Signs that Your Roof is Leaking
It’s a good idea to inspect your roof periodically. If you spot missing or damaged shingles, this is an obvious entrance point for water, which can rot the wood sheathing underneath and can lead to extremely costly repairs. Get the shingles repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
Flashing (the material, usually metal, that covers the joints on your roof where water would otherwise get in) is a common source of leaks. Look for corroded spots, small holes, or signs of rust. There may also be places where the flashing is coming loose and allowing water to stream in.
The first visible sign of leaks on the inside of your home will often be on the ceiling. Any sagging, bubbles, or soft places should be investigated right away. You might notice peeling paint or discolored spots, too.
Like the ceiling, water damage often takes the form of peeling paint or discolored spots. You might see moisture marks, or gray, yellow, or brown stains. Drywall may also come undone in places.
When leaks go undetected for a long time, they are very likely to cause mold in your home. This can cause symptoms like sore throat, itchy skin, and coughing in you or your family members, so it’s a good idea to have a mold inspection performed if one or more people in your household are having these symptoms. After the mold is removed, the leak should be found and addressed.
If you have an attic that you can access, go there and look for signs. If you have a leaky roof, they’ll likely be pretty obvious. You might see water stains, discolorations, or even moldy areas.
The 6 Most Common Places for Roof Leaks
The flashing around the chimney is a prime source of leaks. Flashing covers up a fairly large gap between the chimney and the roof, and it tends to pull away from the brick over time or rust. This is generally pretty easy to spot, so you’ll be able tell quickly if that’s where your leak originates.
The shingles on your roof can get damaged when they’re very old or when there’s been a big storm. When water gets past the shingles, it can seep into the underlayment and sheathing, which can then cause leaks inside the home. Look for signs like loose granules, curling or buckling shingles, or obvious missing spots.
Has it been a while since you’ve cleaned out the gutters? When they’re clogged or damaged, standing water can back up and cause leaks. The water can also freeze in the gutter and cause a multitude of other problems, so it’s very important to clean out your gutters regularly even if you don’t suspect leaks.
When two planes of your roof intersect, the line where they meet is called a valley. Depending on where you live, this could be covered with flashing, rolled roofing, or something else. Water collects in these lows spots, so any problem with the covering will often allow water into the house.
Even if your roof is great shape, ice dams can cause leaking. These ridges of ice that form at the edge of roofs catches melted snow and doesn’t allow it to run off like it should. This backed-up water can cause major leaks.
Anywhere there’s an object that protrudes above your roof, there’s a potential for leaks. Check the flashing around these objects for rust or loose spots.
How to Find a Quality Roofing Contractor
That doesn’t just mean get different numbers. Make sure that you get all of the information about what they plan to do, and how much they plan to replace. A good roofer should be willing to completely remove the current roof and replace it from the ground up if there are any problems. Once you have all of the quotes, you don’t want to just choose the cheapest one. After all, the lower cost could be because they’re cutting corners, such as installing new shingles without removing old rotted decking. Go over all of the details and feel free to ask questions.
While a roofer will do everything they can to prevent mistakes, they do still happen. Your home needs to be protected. That’s why a professional roofer will carry general liability insurance.
To make sure they have it, simply ask for the name of their insurance carrier and their agent. Call the agent and ask for a certificate of insurance to make sure that their policy is in force. If they say that your homeowner’s insurance will cover it or that they don’t need insurance, then that’s a red flag.
A professional roofer makes building roofs their career, so they’re not going to take unnecessary chances. That means they’ll use roofing jacks (supports nailed into the support beams) to create scaffolding on your roof, and will use climbing gear when working on steep roofs. The same attention to detail that they show towards safety will translate into getting a good roof with no accidents.
And the attention to detail won’t stop there. A good roofer keeps a clean work area. While working, they’ll use things like a roofing magnet to pick up nails and avoid accidents. Any roofing debris will be cleaned up as they create it, and it will go to a recycling center or approved landfill. All of these are signs that they have a permanent, professional crew who knows what they’re doing.
Some people will recommend only going with long-established roofing companies, but that’s not the only way to be sure that they’re a professional. After all, everyone had to start somewhere. One of the best ways is to check their proposal and watch their process for creating it.
A professional will never make assumptions without checking things out. They’ll get up on your roof to go over the flashing, decking, ventilation, and more. They might even take pictures of any damage or problem areas so you know you’re on the same page. Everything will be spelled out in great detail along with the costs so you’ll have no doubt that they know what they’re doing.
Top 3 Roofing Myths
Reality: The part of your roof with the shingles is only one part of the whole roofing system that protects your house. One of the biggest purposes of the roofing system is funneling and directing rainwater and snow melt away from the house. The gutters are the final step in that system, catching all of the water from the roof and putting it where it won’t cause structural damage.
When you have your roof replaced, remember that you may have to also get new gutters. Also, that gutter problems can quickly lead to problems with your roof. Even something as simple as clogged gutters can lead to water-logged fascia and rotting sheathing under your roof. It’s a good idea to keep your gutters clean and check them a few times a year to make sure that they’re functioning correctly.
Reality: A well-made roof will be structurally sound on every single layer from the support structure to the shingles. The whole point of getting a new roof is because the old one is weakened and giving you problems. When you install a new roof or shingles without removing the old one, your new roof inherits these problems.
More often than not, this approach is used as a way to save time and money. After all, you won’t have to rent a dumpster and spend time ripping up the old roof. But the truth is that it usually ends up costing more in the long run. Even if the current shingles look fine, there can be a lot of unseen damage underneath them, such as rotting decking. If you don’t remove these, you’ll just end up having to pay more to repair or replace that section in the future. It’s better to do it right the first time.
Reality: Flashing is made of durable metal which can take an incredible beating without damage. So if it looks good, then you don’t need to replace it, right? Not so much. Over the years, flashing can become loose, rust, get cracked, or simply lose the seal on the edges. When that happens, water gets around your roof, and the whole system can be compromised, even if everything else is working well.
And that doesn’t just mean when you’re replacing a roof. Flashing can be damaged at any time, especially during heavy storms or going through extreme temperature changes. Fortunately, it can usually be replaced without too much trouble. As a general rule, your flashing should be inspected for damage at least twice a year.
The Importance of Roofing Ventilation
Roofing Ventilation Starts with the Attic
The real issue with the temperature of a roof starts with ventilation of the attic, which has a nearly direct correlation with the temperature of the roof. A proper roof ventilation system takes air into the attic and blows the overheated air out into the atmosphere. Here’s how it works:
Vents are generally installed in the soffits or eaves of a roof – that area adjacent to the attic. In the summer, fresh air enters through the intake vents. Even though this air may be 90 degrees in the summer, it is considerably cooler than the temperature in the attic, as direct sunlight superheats the roof and some of the heat transfer just below the roof into the attic. On a 90-degree day, without any roofing ventilation, the temperature in the attic can soar to 150 degrees.
• The super-heated air is circulated out of the attic and away from the roof through exhaust vents that are installed near the top of the roof. A proper roofing ventilation system uses a proper amount of intake and exhaust vents for the size of the house as part of an effort to keep the temperature in the attic closer to the outside temperature. There are many different types of exhaust vents, including turbine vents, power vents and static vents. Your roofer will be able to choose the type that best works for your home.
Without proper ventilation, moisture can form in the attic in the form of water vapor that will condense on anything made of metal. The problem is exacerbated in more tropical, Southern climates. Mildew can settle into attic insulation, all greatly reducing the effectiveness of that insulation.
The higher temperature in the attic, inevitably produced when the roofing ventilation isn’t sufficient, creates warmer temperatures inside the house that puts more strain on air-conditioning systems.
The intense heat puts a serious toll on virtually any type of roofing material, creating a significant chance that the roof will fail many years earlier than normal. In particular, the heat affects asphalt and wooden roofs most significantly.
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