The 10 Common Causes of Roof Leaks

Apr 12, 2017

The 10 Common Causes of Roof Leaks

Roof leaks can be detrimental to a home’s structural integrity due to the many complications that it leads to if left untreated. Even something seemingly simple as identifying a leak’s location can be a problem when a lot of individual shingle or tile pieces are in the way. To counter this, we’ve collected the 10 most common causes of roof leaks.

1. Roof Age

While some roof coverings offer different degrees of longevity and resistance to the elements, there’s no way around it, any material will lose its durability over time no matter the quality put into making it. Thermal buckling, moisture ‘swelling’, mold formation, termite damage, and years of idly placed dead loads will all shorten the material’s life.

2. Roof Vents

Water can very easily seep through concrete if a leak is present. So, it’s important to stop it while you can, and ensuring your roof vents are thoroughly sealed is one of those ways. Also, check to see if the gaskets tapered to the vent pipes are leaving room for air, if they are, taper them and seal them properly to leave no room for air or water penetration.

3. Roof Pitch

If the pitch of your roof is too low, that means your individual shingles can be flapped up and down due to battering hail and rain storms. Still more, they can be lifted by high winds, allowing rain to pass through and settle. That’s not to say that low-pitched roofs are bad but it has to do with your area’s climate and your choice of weatherproofing materials. Having a completely flat roof for instance – a popular choice with modern residential building design and architecture – can be covered entirely with a thermoset or thermoplastic membrane that acts as a permanent barrier between the weather and the roof’s actual surface.

4. Storm & Yard Debris

Leaving the roof uncleaned from fallen dry leaves, tree twigs, toys, or storm flung objects can block the water’s path and start to seep in through the cracks like a sponge. Clean your roof once or twice a year on sunny days even when debris doesn’t collect. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

5. Detached Flashing

Flashing is attached to a roof’s key locations using caulk, which will dry and peel after years and years of being exposed to the elements. If your house has a dormer, skylight, or chimney, the flashing will tend to detach from them after years of use. Check to see if mold is forming on the flashing’s seal because that speeds up its breaking down over time. 

6. Ridge Cap

Where ridge caps’ sole purpose is to top off the seams between one section or slope of shingle to the next, they can nonetheless pull the water back in through the cracks. Ever notice how water seems to go in a counterintuitive direction, even opposite to gravity? This happens when static electricity pulls the droplet or stream in using a net positive charge.

7. Gutter Backup

If the run-off is not flowing as it should between the gutters transitions, either those joints are improperly connected, gutter needs a reinstallation with an extra tilt, or there’s debris blocking it from passing through.

8. Missing or Broken Shingles

Shingles don’t hold up well in low-pitched roof situations and high winds. After being tested for some time, they will either crack, peel, or fly off, leaving a big open space for water to gather and sink inside the structure. If you’re not paying attention, you should know that your contractor always adds an extra 10 percent of shingle when installing your roof in case a mistake is done mid-project. For all intents and purposes, you should have some stored in the garage or storage shed ready to be used for such occasions.

9. Ice Dams

In any case, removing ice collected in the winter seasons is crucial for your roof’s stability. Roofs have varying capacities of handling environmental or live loads like snow accumulation, so make sure your roofing contractor took that into consideration.

By a combination of a cold climate and the ice not having enough time to melt completely, the ice which does melt can end up pooling within an icy enclosure that needs you or a roof cleaner to get up there and remove all of it.

10. Insufficient Attic Ventilation

Water is a funny substance because it can take many forms and demand different strategies to fend off from your roof. An improperly ventilated attic and a fluctuating outdoor climate can lead to air moisture developing water capillaries within the ceiling. And is likely to grow bigger with time under the same circumstances year after year because there’s no air preventing it from settling in one spot for too long. Simply installing a fan in your attic should solve this problem.

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