Why Is My Roof Leaking? If you’re noticing water pooling or dripping on your ceiling, the first thing to think about is a leak in your roof. A leaky roof is one of the leading causes of plumbing damage and destruction in homes. It can cause significant property damage and even pose a threat to the health of everyone in your household if not addressed quickly.
Addressing a leaky roof can sometimes be a complex process that requires an experienced contractor to do the work correctly and be familiar with your specific project. When it comes to fixing a leak, knowing what is behind the problem can make all the difference in cost and effectiveness. A quick fix can turn into an expensive bill when the problem isn’t fixed properly, and if you wait too long, the damage could be permanent and expensive to repair. To find the source of any leaks, it’s important to evaluate the entire roofing system and address any issues contributing to a leaky roof.
Causes of Roof Leaks
Roof failures are typically caused by two things: old age and poor installation. Over time, even the best roofing materials can deteriorate and become less effective at keeping water out. When this happens, leaks can occur around windows, doors, skylights, and other areas where the roof meets the walls or floors of your home.
Many leaks start from the wear and tear that shows up around protrusions in your roofs, such as dormers, plumbing vents, and chimneys. Cracks split, and other deterioration can loosen the seal where the roof and these objects come together, allowing water to slip through.
Flashing is a thin layer of metal placed along the joints of your roof to provide a watertight seal against the elements. It’s typically made from stainless steel or aluminum and is attached with stainless steel nails or adhesive to your roof decking. Seam leaks occur when the flashing deteriorates, due to age, exposure to UV light, harsh weather, and poor installation. When flashing begins to peel away, water can get in between the sheets of flashing and the roof junction planes., causing corrosion of sheet metal below. Tar is also often used to seal flashing together, but direct sun rays can melt the tar, exposing small cracks in the metal. This not only looks bad but also increases your chances for leaks during heavy rainstorms., causing mold and structural damage.
Whether used for aesthetics or heat, fireplaces can be a big feature in your home. But if the flashing around your chimney comes loose, rusts through, or mortar starts chipping away, that lovely feature can become a big problem. If your roof leaks in heavy rain, it could mean that harsh weather has chipped away at the connection points between your chimney and roof, making it easy for water to slip through and cause leaks in your ceiling. A crack in the chimney can also let the smoke out, upping your carbon monoxide levels and making it difficult for smoke alarms to function. Besides being unsightly, this issue can be dangerous as well since a homeowner might not realize a leak is happening–leaving them vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Cracked booting or vents
Plumbing and vents that protrude from your roof are encased in plastic or metal boots that seal the seams and prevent water from slipping through. But they don’t last forever. Rubber boots can rot or tear, while metal boots can rust and lose their screws. A leaky vent can trap the moisture that should be leaving your house, causing leaks and water damage, while damaged boots can allow water easy access into your home.
Dormer walls are an important part of your home’s exterior defenses and can be found at the top of a roof, extending outwards like wings. Dormer walls are designed to ventilate a house by providing a clear path for airflow between the roof and the eaves. Dormer windows are often called “saddle” windows since they saddle between two roof planes, limit daylight entering a room, and channel air into the home’s interior. This allows for natural convection within the room, bringing in fresh air from all sides while still allowing some light through.
While it’s great to have dormer walls, they are also a prime location for leaks like plumbing and vents. Caulking can wear down, crack, or fall off along window edges and siding.
Meanwhile, flashing can pull away from your house and crack on its own. With cracks and openings around your dormers, water can get behind the flashing and into your house, where it will slide down and wind up doing damage far away from its point of entry. “Dormer leaks” occur especially in older homes and are often caused by the roof is no longer water-tight. If proper precautions are not taken, water damage can also result from other areas of the roof, such as flashing or shingles.
Not every leak stem from a protrusion. Sometimes roof leaks occur when there’s been damage to your roof or roof maintenance has fallen to the wayside. Wear and tear are expected on a roof over time but ensuring that you maintain your roof can help prevent leaks. Even small issues like missing shingle tabs can become big problems if not noticed soon enough. By inspecting your roof regularly, you’ll be able to catch any potential problems before they become major issues in the future.
Broken or missing shingles
A missing or damaged shingle is the most common cause of a roof leak. This is one of the easier roof leaks to spot and understand. Examining your roof (sometimes even while your feet are still planted on the ground) is often enough to identify the problem area if missing shingles are the source of your leaking roof. In the event of a heavy rainstorm, strong gusts of wind can easily knock them off your roof and cause roof leaks in heavy rain.
Flat roofs tend to collect water as it rains, so it’s important to check them for signs of damage as well. However, if you have a flat roof, damage may be a little tougher to spot from the ground. If you’re comfortable with getting up on a ladder, climb up onto your roof to check for other signs of damage—like blistering—that could indicate a flat roof leak repair or replacement may be necessary. If you’re not an experienced handyman, we highly recommend calling a professional for an assessment.
Ice dam buildup or clogged gutters
After a few days of heavy snowfall, melting snow can build up on the sides of your roof and run into your attic. When ice or leaves clog up your gutters, rain and melted snow can’t flow down and away from your home, forcing it to travel back upon (or in) to your roof. This water can get under flashing and shingles, where it can then find small cracks in your roof and get into your home. Plus, refrozen ice can cause damage to your roof, as it sits in places, it’s not supposed to. Keeping your gutters clear year-round prevents clogs and allows so much water to flow through; you’ll never have to worry about refrozen ice causing damage.
It’s easy to assume that water damage in your attic and along your ceilings originates from a leaking roof, but sometimes, the problem can come from inside your home rather than outside it.
Water damage from inside your home can come from a broken pipe under the ground, split in a solder joint, or even from faulty plumbing. Whatever the source of the issue, you mustn’t ignore it. Acting right away will prevent water damage in your attic and along with your ceilings.
Condensation in your attic
Your home’s attic is the perfect place to store your holiday decorations, blankets, and sports equipment. But if it’s not properly insulated, the differing temperatures inside and outside your home can cause moisture buildup in your attic, leading to condensation. This leads to musty odors and can make furnishings look old before they’re even worn out. The best way to prevent this issue from reoccurring is by ensuring that your home has proper ventilation so any excess moisture in the air can escape.
If your attic space is poorly ventilated, moisture can cling to nails that have come through the rafters during your roof installation. During cold nights, that moisture can turn into frost on the nail (making it seem like the nail shines) and melt away again the next morning. Signs of a shiner include a shiny nail and loose or sagging joists above or below it. Often, they are in corners, along with other potential hiding places such as insulation and roofing material. If neglected, this will lead to issues with your home framing, ceiling damage, as well as possible mold growth in other parts of your house.
Trust RRG Roofing with your roofing needs
A roof leak can be a sign that your roof needs some TLC. Our technicians at RRG Roofing can examine your roof for signs of damage or deterioration and help determine the cause of the leak. We then choose the best sealant for the job—whether it’s a new roof, repairs to an existing one, or touch-up paintwork. And if we find a problem area during your next inspection (don’t worry–we’ll let you know before we start), we can take care of that too!
Call the experts at RRG Roofing at 678-325-6949 or visit us online to get a quote and learn about our 50-year warranty in Dahlonega, GA, or Murphy, NC. We build trust and peace of mind into every RRG roof.