Every homeowner knows just how important a roof really is. Aside from the foundation, which it indirectly depends upon, it’s probably about the most important part of your house. It’s the first and last line of defense against the elements, water damage, pests and of course, it’s vital to keeping your climate control contained properly (thus preventing your electric bill going through the roof).
Your roof directly impacts your resale value, your curb appeal, and your insurance, and a shoddy enough roof can result in your home being condemned, which is something nobody wants. Thus, a leak is bad news, and a symptom of one of a host of bigger problems.
Shingles are designed to break, which may sound counterintuitive, but is actually important to making the roof more affordable to repair, and damage being less severe throughout the entirety of the roof.
Cracked or broken shingles will break the layering. This layering is a staggered overlap of shingles (similar to snake or fish scales), which allows water to run off and not seep into your home. Water will find its way in when you have broken shingles, and from there, leaks can ensue. Repairs should be affected right away.
Flashing is metal that lines the surface beneath your shingles, and along edges or joints in your roof, providing additional seal in places where water could easily get in and cause havoc. Over time, flashing and the seal used along with it can warp, crack, dry out or come away, creating gaps where water can leak in and build up.
This is just a natural decay that occurs, and can easily be kept to a minimum by regular maintenance and inspection to catch it before it gets too out of hand. DIY flashing repair is more than possible, but a professional should really handle it.
Cracked Vent Booting
This is a very similar problem to cracked flashing, and in fact, flashing is often used to create a seal around vents, skylights and other protrusions which interrupt the surface of your roof. If they weren’t properly installed, or the natural breakdown that just happens to flashing over time has occurred, this will let water into your roof and into your ventilation system both.
This is easily fixed by a professional, though DIY for vent booting isn’t terribly difficult nor expensive to undertake. Still best to have a professional handle it if you can.
Valleys are exactly what they sound like – the areas where slopes and walls come together in a concave or V-shape. These require a lot of attention to sealing and shoring up, because water and debris like to collect in valleys.
If your seals aren’t properly done, or have begun to degrade (like flashing, it will over time), you will begin to develop leaks, which will grow worse as nearby shingles begin to degrade and go missing as the damage spreads.
This is a job for professional roofers, whom can make these repairs if the damage hasn’t become so severe as to need remediation.
Ice dams are caused by water freezing and thawing in the winter, basically resulting in the formation of walls of ice, which melt less easily than other ice and snow. This will cause water to pool up, and begin to eat away at shingles and develop severe leaks.
This problem is easily remedied by getting on a ladder, and taking a snow shovel sideways and just scooping away buildup. Don’t get on the roof. Depending on the material, salt or other anti-ice compounds can also help reduce this buildup, as can ice guards.
Clogged gutters result in water not being disposed of properly, and backing up into valleys, around flashing, around vent boots and so on. You should clean your gutters every couple months, or more often if you’re willing.
On a side note, if the gutters are clogged with granules, it means your shingles are decaying, which is a bigger overall problem to address.
Like skylights and vent boots, chimneys require a flush seal with flashing and care put into it. Chimneys can crack, which can compromise these seals, and result in further leakage. The acidity of soot and smoke can also contaminate your shingles, worsening the damage and causing additional discoloration as well.
This is a job for roofers and mason workers who really know how to affect these repairs properly.
Skylights, like chimneys and vent boots, cause a disruption in your roof surface, and if they’re improperly installed, or seals and flashing have sufficiently decayed, this can let water in. Be sure to have these inspected frequently, and if damage has occurred, have them replaced/reinstalled/repaired as soon as possible.
Skylights are nice, but in the world of roofing, these things are one of the greatest menaces you can name.
This one’s an easier problem to fix, unless it’s the culmination of a lot of bad seals and the like, but condensation can form in your attic, and that water can find its way through insulation and through your ceiling in pretty short order.
This can happen from badly-sealed vents, leaky windows, or just a buildup of humidity in your attic. Dehumidifiers, checking your windows and ventilation, and making sure temperatures are properly controlled can reduce this problem. If it persists, then one of the other issues we’ve touched on can be causing this, and you will want a professional to investigate.
Quite simply, if you walk on your roof too often, which many are guilty of for Christmas decoration, messing with satellite dishes and so on, fragile materials like shingles, flashing and the like can be damaged and cracked.
This is a compound thing, and a root cause of a lot of the other damage we’ve touched on, but if you spend a lot of time on your roof, even in an effort to keep an eye on things, you may actually be hastening problems rather than heading damage off.
To learn more about the perils of leaky roofs and water damage, fill out our contact form today!