“Why is my roof leaking?”
It always starts there, but the worse question inevitably comes next: “Where is the leak even coming from?”
A leaking roof is a common fear every homeowner has, and roof damage is no joke. Maybe it’s the mystery of where the damage starts, the potential further damage it is causing, or just not knowing how it happened in the first place. Regardless of why your roof is leaking, it is crucial to find out where the roof leak is coming from so you can act fast and prevent further damage to your home.
If you suspect your roof is leaking, you need to do three things:
- Calm down; it’ll be okay!
- Note any signs of your roof leak.
- Schedule a roof inspection!
Ok, you might want to get out the bucket if the leak is severe enough. But first, it’s important to note that there could be one of a dozen reasons why your roof may be leaking. Lucky for you, we’ll go through what those might be, what they look like, and the steps to take to remedy the leak.
Okay, So Why Is My Roof Leaking?
We’ve seen our fair share of roof leaks over the years, and we could narrow down the reasons why into at least ten common reasons. Unfortunately, some roof leaks aren’t as easy to spot as others, but knowing what the signs are can help catch it early and avoid extensive (and expensive) water damage to your home.
1 – Missing or Damaged Shingles
One of the most common reasons for a roof leak is missing or damaged shingles. This can be caused by high winds, severe weather conditions, and even improper installation. Shingles can crack, dent, or lift from the wind, which can loosen their seal.
If you’re missing just one shingle, it’s not too difficult to replace it yourself. But if you have more extensive damage, you’ll need to call in the pros to perform a total roof replacement.
2 – Holes in Your Roof
A hole in your roof could have been caused by severe weather, rodents or insects, or a tree branch that fell on top of it. Even the smallest hole caused by a rusted or loose nail can cause extensive damage if left for too long without being repaired.
If you’re handy around the house, you may be able to fix holes yourself using caulk and sealant to ensure a tight seal once again.
3 – Your Roof is Old
The roof’s age and wear and tear can cause diminished protection to your home over time. Old materials just don’t hold up against the elements like they did when first installed. An old roof might show these signs:
- curled shingles
- rusted nails or flashing
If you know the age of your roof when you buy your home, it can help you keep track of when it reaches its intended lifespan. Regular roof maintenance can also help prolong the life of your roof and put off repairs or replacements a little longer.
4 – Clogged or Damaged Gutters
Keeping your gutters clear of debris is a vital step in your roofing maintenance. If your gutters or downspouts are clogged, that water has nowhere to go but back into your roof through the drip edge or under your shingles.
Keep an eye on your downspouts after a rainstorm, and if you don’t see any water or debris, it could be clogged. If it’s safe to do so, get up on a ladder to clear out the clog.
5 – Ice Dams
Ice dams can be one of the biggest culprits of a roof leak during the spring thaw. Ice dams can also be caused by improper roof insulation and ventilation. When your roof leaks hot air in the winter, it melts the snow on top, which causes it to re-freeze on the bottom, forming ice dams.
If you have recurrent issues with ice dams every winter, you may be looking at even more significant roof issues. But in the meantime, hiring a contractor to remove your ice dams safely and then check for further damage to the roof is the first step.
6 – Frost or Moisture Trapped in the Attic
Another common reason for a roof leak is moisture or frost accumulation in the attic. Causes of moisture or frost in the attic include:
- improper ventilation
- condensation on cold surfaces
- plumbing leaks in your home
If you think this may be the case in your home, you can check by looking for water spots on the ceilings and walls of your upper floor. You can also check the attic for frost and moisture accumulation by looking at your insulation. If it’s soggy or flattened, you may have a leak in your roof.
If you find moist spots on your ceiling, look to see if they’re wet before performing any further investigations, as this will help determine how serious the issue is.
7 – Burst Pipe
Water spots on your ceiling might not always be a sign of a leaky roof. Many plumbing pipes run through your attic or upper floors of the house.
If those pipes have a leak or burst during the winter, you could be facing some pretty severe water damage. It could also be a sign you need to re-insulate your attic if it’s cold enough to burst your pipes.
8 – Damaged Flashing
Flashing is one of the first things to go on your roof. Flashing is installed around chimneys, skylights, pipe boots, and other roofing elements. It creates a watertight seal around the edges, under your shingles, to prevent water from getting into those edges. Over time, flashing can see a lot of abuse from wind, hail, and rain and can come loose or crack.
The second this happens is the second your roof becomes susceptible to leaks when it rains. Repairing or replacing your flashing may need to happen more than once, but it is vital to keep your attic and home dry and free of water damage.
9 – Damaged Vents or Pipe Boots
Similarly, vents and pipe boots can become damaged over time from the weather (hail) and age. If your roof is leaking near any of these areas, it could be a sign that the vent or pipe boot needs to be replaced altogether.
Vents are an essential part of your roof ventilation system and need to be in good condition to allow hot air to escape, so if these are damaged, they should be replaced as soon as possible. It’s a relatively cheap and fast process that can save you a ton of pain and strife down the road.
10 – Roof Slope Issues
And lastly, if your roof is sloped too steep or too low, it can affect how adequately it sheds water. A very steep-sloped roof might shed rain too quickly, and if you don’t have a proper gutter system, it might not keep up.
On the other hand, a low-sloped roof may shed rain and snow too slowly, which can cause pooled water, ice, or snow that can lead to leaks. A proper inspection can help pinpoint if this is the cause of your roof leak, and a professional contractor can help you remedy the situation.
What to Do if Your Roof Is Leaking
If your roof is leaking, no matter the reason, you have to check it out! Don’t leave it for any period of time as it could result in further—more severe—damage to your roof. So, get out your ladder and get on the roof. Inspecting your roof is important because it will give you a better assessment as to the level of repairs needed. Of course, not everyone is comfortable on a roof or performing the necessary repairs.
If that’s you, no worries! Give your local roofers a call.
If you’re located in Minnesota, you can count on Northface Construction. Our expert team has seen roof leaks caused by any of the above reasons (and more). So we know how to pinpoint the leak, where to check for water damage, and how to repair or replace your roof as quickly as possible.
You won’t be left with a leaky roof for long: simply request your FREE quote at the first sign.