The primary job of your roof is to keep the outside out and the inside in. And for most homeowners, the most important job of your roof is to keep the rain out. When you see the tell-tale signs of water leaks coming into your home, you start to feel dread and panic knowing that the cause could be a major roof project to fix. If you have a roof leak, act quickly and contact a roofing expert. They can often provide a free estimate, which includes the source of the leak and cost to repair it. While waiting, try and figure out where the water is coming from.
Trace the problem to its source
Somehow water has made its way into your ceiling, most likely from roof or pipe leaks. If the damage is in your basement, it could be a faulty drain or pipe from the upstairs plumbing. Occasionally water damage is not connected to a leak (like condensation). Be careful to double check all alternatives before deciding there isn’t a leak.
Inspect your attic for signs of mold or dampness. Water leaks can be hard to trace because it can run far from the original entry point before it begins to drip and show itself in the form of damage. However, it’s important to deal with the cause of the problem. If you don’t address the actual leak, repairing and repainting the stains will only cover up the effects of the leak until the next downpour.
False Alarms of Roof Leaks
When you spot water damage on your ceiling, hear the drip-drip-drip of water in your drywall, or find strange pools of water in rooms where there shouldn’t be any, most people’s first thought is: leaking roof. However, your home is a complicated structure, so unless you can immediately spot the problem, it’s worth looking at:
- Improper Ventilation of Attic Spaces – Without proper ventilation of your attic, moisture in your home rises to the attic space. This moisture then turns to liquid and can drip back into your home.
- Leaking AC or HVAC System – Especially during summer, it’s worth checking your cooling systems for leakage.
- Leaking Pipes – While many homeowners don’t realize it, ceilings and floors also contain water piping. This situation is further complicated by water traveling horizontally before leaking to down below.
All of these problems are not connected to the roof. However, in the case of improper ventilation, most roofing companies can help install attic ventilation.
Most Likely Sources of Roof Leaks
Here are some of the most common sources of roof water leaks that can happen in your home. Some are caused by weather, wear and tear, improper installation of the roof or shoddy roof repairs.
Age of the roof
Over time, roofing materials can deteriorate due to exposure to the elements, causing cracks, gaps, and other forms of damage that allow water to seep through.
There are many parts to a roofing system. Improper installation of the shingles, valley flashing, utility collars, chimney flashing, and skylight flashing can cause major leaks. Poor workmanship may have left gaps or seams that can let water in. In addition, inadequate flashing can allow water to seep in around chimneys, skylights, or other protrusions on the roof.
Damaged shingles or flashing
Cracking and missing shingles allow water free reign into your home. Over time shingles can deteriorate and warp, causing the same problems.
Bad weather or through normal wear and tear can damage flashing. Some flashing is secured with seals or caulking, which can deteriorate over time.
Wind driven rain
High winds can drive rain water almost horizontally into your home, including through outside ventilation.
Water that ponds on your roof spells trouble: constant contact with water will cause shingles to deteriorate and underneath structure to rot.
Gutters that are clogged with debris can prevent water from flowing freely, causing it to back up and overflow onto the roof. Other debris that accumulates on the roof such as leaves, sticks and branches can trap moisture on the roof, having a similar effect to standing water.
Venting boot failure
Roof vents are used to expel excess moisture from the inside of the house. Roof vents are sealed by placing flashing around the opening and slipping a tight, rubber boot over the area where the pipe peeks out of the roof. Over time, the flashing and rubber boot can deteriorate and cause a leak.
Identify and repair the source of the leak
If you suspect the leak is caused by the roof and not something else, it is important to identify the source of the leak and repair it as soon as possible. Here are some likely locations to check:
- Boots (these are rubber pieces sealing electric service areas, plumbing vent pipes, air vents, and exhaust fan flashing)
- Ridge cap (the very top of your roof)
- Gaskets (around pipes)
- Flashing (around chimney)
- Gutters and downspouts
- Shingles (look for obvious tears, erosion or other signs of damage)
- Dormer valleys
These are places which often allow water to seep in. Once you find the source of the leak, repair or replace the area of trouble. Be careful to complete the process thoroughly as a poor job will just invite additional leaks (and headaches!). Consider professional assistance if you are not comfortable performing repairs or inspections on your own. Hire a professional roofing contractor to identify and repair any leaks.
Easy ways to repair interior damage
Depending on the severity of the damage, you may want to hire an experienced professional. However, there are some repairs that are more DIY. Here are some generic instructions to repair small interior stains and paint bubbling.
First, scrap off the bubbling paint then smooth the surface by using a piece of soft sandpaper. Paint on a coat of oil-based primer and let dry for a few hours. Next, apply a thin layer of Spackle with a metal knife, let it dry (make sure it dries completely). Sand the area thoroughly. Spackle again. Once it is smooth, apply primer, and then finally, repaint. If during this process you find there is a large mushy area or holes in the drywall, this may be out of your expertise.
Maintenance costs less
Roof water leaks can cause significant damage to your home or business if left unchecked. Identifying the cause of the leak and fixing it as soon as possible can help prevent further damage and extend the life of your roof.
Consider a roof maintenance plan. Regularly cleaning your gutters and downspouts can prevent clogs and keep water flowing freely away from the roof. Regular inspections can help identify potential problems before they become major issues. In addition, routine maintenance such as cleaning gutters and replacing damaged shingles can help extend the life of your roof. Roof repair and replacement is expensive. Regular maintenance is something you can budget and plan for.
If you are having trouble with a leaky roof or you can’t identify the source of the problem, contact us at All Weather Tite, expert roofers servicing Southwest Florida, with the expertise to locate and repair roof leaks, as well as partial or full roof replacement. Our highly trained professionals will be happy to discuss any issues or set up a free consultation.