Why is My Roof Leaking? 6 Most Common Reasons

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Roof leaks pose several problems for homeowners. They seem to never happen at a convenient time and they can cause some serious damage to your home’s interior. Their effects might persist in the form of mold or rot in your home. Determining the cause of a roof leak can be difficult at times. The source of a roof leak on the outside of the home may not match the position of the leak on the inside. This can cause you, the homeowner, much frustration if you are attempting to source the leak and repair it yourself. 

Figuring out the source of a roof leak is not an exact science. A roof leak might have numerous contributing elements and isn’t necessarily the direct result of one specific problem with your roof. Because of this, it can turn into a process of elimination. Below you can find 6 possible sources of your home’s roof leaks. Whether it is missing or cracked shingles or just poor installation, there is an answer to all of your leaking problems. 

leak crack in interior roofing

1. Missing Shingles 

A missing shingle on your roof might indicate that your roof has suffered wind damage. Shingles are partially laid on top of and underneath one another for further protection and damaging winds can cause shingles to lift and even detach from your roof. The felt beneath a shingle is visible when one is missing. While well maintained felt can repel water, there is still a danger of leakage if a missing shingle goes unnoticed and is not fixed in a timely manner. 

If your felt flaps up or tears through the staples in your roof or if weather gets below the felt, such as wind-driven rain, the water can penetrate your roofing system and result in a leak. In comparison to shingles, standard felt, especially if it is damaged, is not a long-lasting substance and can unfortunately lead to roof damage and water leakage. This is why Advanced Roofing & Construction, LLC recommends having synthetic felt underlayment installed when replacing your roof. Synthetic underlayment is a tarp-like barrier that is almost impossible to tear and does a much better job at repelling water than typical felt paper. 

As mentioned, shingles can be blown off the roof deck by strong winds. Leaks and other interior damage might result from missing shingles. Other wind damage may be difficult to see, particularly if the adhesive bond that provides a water-shedding surface has been damaged.

Contact Advanced at 256-603-9171 if you’d like to have your roof fully inspected for storm damage

When choosing shingles for a new roof, it is important to evaluate the wind coverage offered by each manufacturer. Flat asphalt shingles such as 3-Tab shingles offer a much lower wind rating, typically about 60 mph, as opposed to heavier dimensional asphalt shingles which can offer up to a 130 mph wind rating. The wind rating on a shingle means it can withstand winds below and up to the set rating if installed properly. This is a vital factor to consider if you live in an area susceptible to high winds throughout the year.

2. Cracked Shingles 

One of the most common sources of shingle cracking is hail impacts from a passing storm. When hit by hail, shingles can respond in a variety of ways. Hail damage to asphalt shingles, for example, can look like small indentations that appear when hail impacts your roof and knocks off roof granules, leaving the fiberglass underneath exposed to the elements. To correctly determine whether or not a roof has been damaged by hail, one must examine the various aspects of the damage. 

Hail Damage to Asphalt Shingles 

  • There is no specific pattern to the damage 
  • Indentations are typically rounded in shape 
  • Granules are lost, exposing the fiberglass base of the shingle 

Hail damage to Metal Roofs 

  • There is, again, no perceptible pattern to the damage 
  • Dents can be caused from hail hitting the metal 
  • Painted metal can lose it coating 
  • Dents on low slopes can hold water eventually causing rust 

3. Improper Installation 

Improper installation is the third most prevalent cause of roof leaks. When a roofing system is not installed properly, it may not hold up against the elements in the way it is intended to. It is important that nails are inserted correctly during the installation process so that they hold tight and snug and aren’t overdriven, whether air-nailed or hand-nailed. 

If a nail isn’t pushed in far enough or is hammered in the wrong direction, the head of the nail can work its way back up through the shingle. When it rains, water can penetrate below the head of that nail and end up inside your home. 

Improper installation may also occur when nails are placed in the wrong spots such as being driven too high when shingles are being installed. This can cause shingles to slide off prematurely because they weren’t secured in place properly to begin with. Other issues could arise if nails are driven where shingles are butting up to one another and nailing too low can expose the nail if it is not placed to allow the overlapping shingle to cover it up. Nails are not the only cause of improper installation. A roof can be installed improperly if certain materials are not placed in the correct locations on the roof. For example, it is important for the ice and water barrier to be placed in the roof’s valleys where a roof gets the most water traffic during storms. Starter strips should be placed around the perimeter of the roof to protect from water getting underneath the roof’s edges. A roofing contractor should also be familiar with local building codes and they should be sure to follow them when replacing your roof in order to install your roof correctly.

4. Flashing Issues 

At the seams, where shingles or panels are useless, the flashing serves as the primary protection for your roof. No matter how perfect each roof plane is, there will always be gaps around the edges. The roof flashing hides these seams, forming a continuous, waterproof covering over your property. 

Determining the location of a leak to see whether it’s caused by faulty flashing is one of the greatest ways to see if it’s caused by faulty flashing. Water flowing down one place of the ceiling might originate from a different portion of the roof up to a few meters distant, which is why you should inspect the spot right above the roof leak. 

Flashing repair is usually not a simple repair. Oftentimes flashing leaks have caused rot to your roof decking and require it to be replaced. Flashing repairs usually require you to also remove some siding so that the new flashing can be installed correctly. 

Ventilation 

A roof’s ventilation system needs to be customized for each home, taking into consideration the airflow intake areas and exit points and the size of the attic, etc. Improper ventilation can cause premature aging of shingles and can also cause nails to back out of the wood, resulting in nail pops. While not common, leaks can come from ridge vents, which run along the top of your roof. The ridge vent is a component of your home’s attic ventilation system that permits hot air to flow out freely. Often, the issue isn’t with the vent itself, but with the nails that were used to attach it. 3” nails are the proper technique to install a ridge vent. Many tend to use nails that aren’t long enough—sometimes less than half the length that is advised. Too short of a nail doesn’t secure the ridge vent to the decking correctly and even the tiniest bit of bad weather may take the nails (and the ridge vent) completely off. Not only does this have an impact on the attic ventilation system, but it also means that water is now getting into the wood components of your roof.

5. Improper Maintenance

Roof’s need to be well maintained to avoid a plethora of problems––many including the ones listed above. If your roof isn’t properly maintained, it may lead to a slew of issues, including structural damage and hazardous mold development. Repairing leaks as soon as possible is critical to keeping your roof in good shape.

Contact Advanced Roofing & Construction to see if there is a maintenance plan that suits your roof’s needs. 

The Risks of Waiting to Repair Your Roof 

It is essential to respond quickly when a roof leak occurs. Roof leaks do not go away or improve on their own. Even if the leak isn’t too severe right now, now is the best time to fix it. We regularly hear from homeowners who have noticed a stain or bubble on their ceiling for a long time but dismissed it as inconsequential. Avoiding or ignoring a leak in your roof will not solve the problem. Many times, by the time you notice damage in your home, it is too late. The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends that your roof be examined twice a year. Here are some things to look for to prevent a fixable problem from becoming an expensive and time-consuming repair: 

On the interior, search for the following: 

  • Spots of darkness or yellowing 
  • Spots where the light from the outside shines through 
  • Sagging or bubbling 

Keep a look out for the following on the outside: 

  • Shingles that are missing, twisted, decaying, peeling, falling, blistering, or buckling Gutters and downspouts that are clogged or drain slowly 
  • Loose material or wear around chimneys or roof vents 

Roof leaks are typically indicators of a much larger problem. If neglected, the danger and possibility of structural deterioration increase. Regular roof inspections are the best way to protect against a leaky roof. Keep an eye out for leaks and consult with a trusted roofing contractor like Advanced on a regular basis about the condition of your roof. 

If you notice a roof leak, call us at 256-603-9171 to schedule your free roofing estimate. We can track down the source of the leak, find the solution to your roof problem and get your roof back into working order! 

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