A leaking roof isn’t just a minor inconvenience. There’s much more to it than just a bucket on the floor on a rainy day. A leaking roof could be doing all kinds of serious and costly damage that you may not see until it’s too late. By choosing not to fix a roof leak, you could be risking damage to walls and ceilings, electrical fires, weakening of roof structures, moisture and damp problems and more.
Like many things in life, prevention is better than cure. Understanding what causes roof leaks means you will be better able to carry out the preventative maintenance needed to prevent roof leaks or spot them before they become a problem.
So let’s have a look at some of the common causes of roof leaks.
- Roof Age
As your roof ages, it is subjected to a lot of wear and tear from the elements. No matter how high-quality your roof is, eventually it will require some maintenance. Unfortunately, roofs often tend to suffer from out-of-sight-out-of-mind syndrome. That means that since you can’t see it, you may fail to notice the damage being done.
Over time, roof materials like shingles, fixings, gutters, flashings and seals can become worn and start to break down. Damage or wear to any one of these elements can lead to roof leaks and costly moisture damage.
It’s worth calling in a roofing professional for roof inspection once a year. This preventative maintenance can help you avoid major moisture damage and repair bills down the road.
- Flashing Damage
Roof flashing is the thin metal surface used to seal roof joints. Flashing can be used to seal joints between roof planes and vertical surfaces like walls or chimneys. It’s also used around roof features like skylights or vents and under shingles.
Flashing creates a waterproof barrier that seals off the joins between various roofing materials and surfaces. Over time, flashing can crack, move out of place or the caulking can dry and crack. This can happen due to poor installation, inferior materials or simple wear and tear. Whatever the cause, damage to flashing can mean roof joins are no longer water-tight and can be an invitation to leaks and water damage.
- Broken or Missing Shingles
This one’s easy to spot. Since roof shingles make up the outer layer of your roof, spotting broken or missing shingles is relatively easy. This kind of damage can be caused by storm damage like high winds, heavy rain or hail. Shingles can also be damaged by falling branches, walking across the roof or overly aggressive cleaning. Broken or missing shingles can expose flashing and other materials to wear and tear that it wasn’t designed to withstand and can lead to major leaks.
- Clogged Gutters
Blocked gutters can cause water to back up and start pooling on your roof. This water can damage your roof and lead to leaks. An excess of debris in your gutters can also mean they’re holding more weight than they were designed to. This can cause your guttering to pull away from the roof, damaging flashings and fascias and letting water into the underroof area.
- Storm Damage
Whether it’s falling branches, high winds, heavy rains or hail, a storm can seriously put your roof to the test. Storms can clog up gutters and pressure from the heavy rains can force the water into your roof cavity. High winds can damage shingles, lift metal sheeting and flashings and damage roof features like chimneys and antennae. A heavy storm can damage your roof in any number of ways, so after a storm it’s always worth inspecting your roof for damage.
- Excess Moisture
Anything that’s contributing excess moisture to your roof could be a potential cause of damage and leaks. This could include moss and mould on the roof shingles, leaking or clogged gutters, leaking air conditioning units, pooling water and improper drainage, or excess leaf or organic matter. You should regularly check for any signs of excess moisture on the roof to stop a minor issue turning into a major repair job.
- Dodgy Skylights and Chimneys
Improperly sealed chimneys and skylights are common causes or roof leaks. As mentioned earlier, damage to the flashing around these features can lead to water leakage. Cracks and mortar damage to the chimney can also allow water to seep through. An improperly installed or sealed skylight can also be a common cause of leaks.
Whatever the cause of your roof leaks, it’s important to get it professionally repaired as quickly as possible. Even minor moisture problems can cause serious damage that can be expensive to repair and even dangerous to your family. You can also have a look on How to Spot Common Waterproofing Problems.