Roof Leakage: How to Spot a Roof Leak and When to Schedule Roof Repairs

September 12, 2020

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If you’ve ever asked the internet, “Is my roof leaking,” it’s vital that you review those answers carefully! Roof damage typically gets worse over time, leading to even costlier repairs. Ignoring roof leaks also risks interior water damage and resultant mold growth!

Common exterior and interior signs of roof damage include:

  • Water stains on interior ceilings
  • Increased utility costs
  • Cold drafts in wintertime and a humid interior in summer
  • Rusty nails or shingle connectors
  • Discoloration on the roof
  • Connectors or shingle granules in the gutters or on the lawn
  • Uneven roof surfaces; bubbling or lifting shingles

A homeowner should never ignore signs of roof damage or wait until their home’s roof actually collapses before scheduling needed roof repairs. Timely repairs avoid otherwise unnecessary damage and help keep your home insulated and in good condition.

To ensure you schedule roof repairs right when they’re needed, note some answers to the question, “Is my roof leaking,” and signs to look out for when it comes to holes, missing shingles, and other roof damage. You can then schedule a needed inspection with a roofing contractor near you, and know that your home is always in good repair!

Is My Roof Leaking? How to Spot a Roof Leak

Consider some exterior and interior signs of roof damage, and consider scheduling a roof inspection every few years even if you don’t notice any of these issue, or if you’re not sure they’re severe enough to indicate roof damage. The few dollars you might pay for a roof inspection are well worth knowing its overall condition and ensuring repairs are scheduled as needed.

  • Roof leaks allow water to drip to the home’s interior, where it’s often absorbed by ceiling tiles. In turn, you might then notice water stains and other marks along interior ceilings. Note that this water softens drywall and other materials, risking collapse, so don’t put off roof repairs if you notice interior water stains.
  • A home’s roof keeps your heated and cooled air inside the home while also keeping out cold and hot air as well as humidity. Roof leaks and holes let out your heating and air conditioning, which usually means an increase in utility costs as your HVAC system powers on more often! If you notice costlier bills throughout the summer or winter and haven’t faced a rate hike, have the home’s roof inspected!
  • Along with increased utility costs, you might also notice cold drafts in wintertime or excess humidity during summer months. Even if your home’s HVAC system cycles on more often than usual, it might not be able to keep up with the cold air and humidity let in by a damaged roof.
  • Over time, roofing nails and connectors might rust which then allows them to pull away from the roof decking. If you notice rusted nails or rust stains on the roof, it’s time for a roof inspection!
  • As shingles pull away from a damaged roof or curl up over the years, you might also notice those nails and connectors in the home’s gutters or along the lawn! Dislodged nails and connectors mean an increased risk of lost shingles, so don’t simply toss them away but schedule a roof inspection as soon as possible.
  • Water damage typically means water stains along a roof’s surface. If you notice large dark spots or other such uneven coloring, have the roof inspected.
  • Shingles should stay flat and even against a roof’s surface. As they suffer water damage or dry out over the years, they might curl up, buckle, or otherwise seem uneven.

The Dangers of Ignoring Needed Residential Roof Repairs

Knowing exterior and interior signs of roof damage is one thing; scheduling needed repairs is quite another! Far too many homeowners put off needed roof inspections and fixes, perhaps due to the cost but also because they don’t realize the dangers of ignoring those needed repairs.

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First note that needed roof repairs only get worse over time, as said. Damaged or missing shingles allow water to seep onto the roof decking, the plywood base to which shingles are attached. As the roof decking suffers water damage, it then allows water to drip onto the home’s framework and make its way to the home’s interior!

Both decking and structural supports are expensive to replace, and interior water damage can mean having to replace wall studs and other materials. Excess moisture in the home also risks mold growth, which is dangerous to your health, damaging to the home, and expensive to clean and remove!

Damaged shingles pulling away from the roof decking also allow mold, moss, and algae to grow between and under each tile. Those contaminants then spread quickly, loosening even more tiles and damaging the roof decking and other materials. Mold, moss, and algae also look very unsightly, detracting from your home’s appearance overall!

Note, too, that your home’s roof is a vital part of your home’s insulation. Holes and leaks let in outside humidity, as said, which also increases the risk of mold growth along drywall and wood framing. Poor insulation means that your HVAC system also cycles on more often, to keep the interior rooms comfortable, which then results in more wear and tear for your AC and furnace!

Homeowners also sometimes fail to realize that a home’s roof provides structural support, helping to hold up walls and disperse the home’s weight across its span. A damaged roof means a weakened roof; in turn, the home might settle and shift in one direction or another. You might then see cracks along interior walls and ceilings, and these let in heat and cold as well as bothersome insects and other pests!

What Causes Roof Damage and Roof Leaks?

Knowing what causes roof damage and eventual roof leaks ensures you’re doing everything possible to avoid that damage in the first place! It’s also helpful for homeowners to know when their home’s roof is most at risk, so you know when to schedule a roof inspection and prepare for needed fixes.

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While bad weather is a common cause of roof damage and resultant leaks, note that strong storms aren’t the only weather conditions to look out for! Prolonged exposure to harsh sunlight dries out roof shingles while lots of snow and rain make them brittle and more likely to crumble or tear. Strong winds over a long period of time also pull at shingle and tile connectors, so that they eventually come loose.

A roof’s age is also a common reason for it to crumble or suffer tears and leaks. As with any building material around the home, roofing shingles and tiles will eventually dry out and crumble or otherwise break down and decay. Replacing those roofing materials before the end of their expected lifespan helps protect roof decking and other materials from damage, and ensures your home always looks its best as well.

Carelessness and neglect also lead to roof damage and resultant leaks. Replacing shingles as they fall off the roof helps protect its decking and surrounding shingles. Avoid walking on the roof unnecessarily and with heavy boots, to prevent pulling on shingles or stripping their protective surface granules.

Added Tips to Prevent Roof Leakage and Damage

Regular roof inspections are the best way to prevent severe damage; a roof inspection will typically find missing or damaged shingles, damaged flashing and decking, and other areas in need of fixing. A roof inspector or roof repair contractor might also note the roof’s overall condition and expected lifespan, so you know when it’s time to schedule a full-scale roof replacement.

Regular roof washing also helps prevent damage! Power washing removes storm debris, growing mold and algae, and air pollution residues. This protects shingles and tiles from damage caused by these debris while also exposing areas needing repairs.

Trim back tree limbs hanging over the home’s roof, to reduce the risk of them scraping against shingles and tiles or dropping debris during a storm or high winds. Keep gutters clean and clog-free, to avoid shingles absorbing standing water or developing mold and moss along the roof eaves.

A homeowner would also do well to invest in high-quality roofing materials and a reputable roofing installation company! High-quality shingles, durable clay tiles, and metal panels last far longer over time than cheap, low-quality shingles. A skilled roofing installer also ensures a quality job, so you know those shingles, tiles, flashing, and other materials won’t pull away from the decking or otherwise suffer damage prematurely.

Related Questions

How long should roof repairs last?

A roof’s expected lifespan depends on materials chosen and quality of installation. Roof repairs are no different! The lowest-quality shingles should last some seven years, while new metal panels can last some 50 years. Your roofing contractor should provide a warranty or guarantee in writing, to ensure their work lasts as long as expected.

Can a homeowner repair their own leaking roof?

Once you know if your roof is leaking, it’s vital that you leave needed residential roof repairs to a professional. Improper repairs might make roof leakage worse, and it’s easy to damage shingles just by walking on them. A roofing contractor can also find hidden areas of damage and ensure repairs are done right, to protect your home as much as possible over time.

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