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Of all the homeowner mishaps, potentially the most detrimental the your homes overall structural integrity and its value is a leaky roof. Water is a pesky little element and when it gets in through your roof it has the potential to spread across your home creating all sorts of issues from mold to damaged walls, floors, and ceilings.
Luckily, with a little information, you too can trace the source of your leaking roof back to a few common causes.
Here is our checklist of the ten most common causes for roof leaks that you can run through to quell an existing leak and prevent any future issues.
The age of your roof plays a pivotal role in whether or not it is susceptible to leaking. Unfortunately, with this cause, there is little you can do to prevent future leaking long term aside from replacing the roof itself.
Roofs are exposed to all sorts of weather conditions, not excluding direct sunlight which can melt tar and seals in shingles. All of this exposure can cause other roofing materials to become weakened, letting water in.
While venting is important for the health of your attic and ceiling structures, they are also a favorite avenue of rain water and melting snow or ice.
Vents are designed to discourage water from getting in. The venting itself will likely be angled to pass water across the face of the opening. That said, there is opportunity for water to enter through seams where the venting apparatus meets the roof line.
Make sure all of your vents are sealed properly and that gaskets around vent pipes are sound. It is also wise to check for missing nails that may have worked they way out over the years as well as cracks in the venting apparatus itself. This is especially true for plastic vents.
A shallow roof slope can also be the cause of leaking. Wind can lift shingles on a roof that is pitched too dramatically.
Your roof’s slope is calculated based on a ratio of vertical rise to horizontal distance. Building code regulates that a roof slope should be 2:12 rise to distance in inches for asphalt shingles.
Double checking that these numbers are up to code is a good way of ruling out any issues that took place during the construction of your house or roof. It does not necessarily mean that you will need to rebuild, either. There are ways to protect roofs with sharp pitches by doubling the shingle layers.
When roofs are left to collect all the stuff that falls during wind and rain storms, natural impediments to water are built up on your roof. Leaf or branch piles along the roof can act as flow stoppers causing water to sit and eventually leak through.
Get up on your roof and make sure it is clear. This goes for gutters as well. Five minutes and hand held blower go a long way.
Metal roof flashing is placed between the roof itself and the walls of any second story pitches on your home. This goes for dormers, chimneys, and skylights as well.
Flashing has the potential to slide out of place or break off completely, leaving large gaps where water can run down into the chimney, aimed right at dividing walls in your home.
You can quick fix flashing issues with new caulking, but eventually new flashing will likely be in the cards.
The ridge cap is exactly what it sounds like: a cap, of sorts, over the highest angle where two slopes in the roof meet. During roofing construction, or even a gutter cleaning where you are walking along the roof with heavy material, this point can be damaged if a ridge cap is not in place.
The holes and cracks you create will be a likely route for rain water and melting snow or ice.
As mentioned above, gutters that are overly clogged with leaves and debris can hinder water from running along the route you you designed for it. When gutters back up, so does the water. That water then sits on the roof and can seep through.
Holes are not just a result of damage inflicted by storms or construction. Removing a TV antenna, for instance, can leave a hole where a cable was once sealed in. When pulling electrical components from a house through the roof, be sure to go back and seal up any conduits that run through the house.
This can happen on two story homes where upper gutters drain below to lower roof sections. In these scenarios, lower roofs can become overly wet and begin to leak long after the rain as stopped.
To avoid this issue, extend the downspout to the lower gutter and then to the ground and aim the drainage away from the house completely.
When the wind comes through, maybe over a roof that is pitched to steeply, shingles can be ripped from the house. If not replaced quickly, or at least before the next rain, you will have an exposed area on your roof where water can enter.
If you have any reason to believe your shingles may have come loose, grab a ladder and inspect the damage. Replacing a few shingles at a time is an easy and fairly permanent fix.