It’s winter here in Georgia, and that means lots of rain and leaky roofs. Unfortunately, roof leaks are notoriously difficult to track down. A leak may start in a completely different part of your roof and travel along pipes, beams, and other internal components of your house before it finally drips down onto your ceiling. So if you have a leak, it’s critical that you find a qualified roofer who knows how to hunt it down to its source. We’ve seen too many homeowners who hire a cheap roofer and think their roof is fixed, only to find the leak coming right back with the next heavy rain. So if you find yourself running for a bucket every time the skies open up, take a look at our list of TrustDALE certified roofers in your area. Give them a call, and you’ll be glad you did!
Why Your Roof Leaks
Obviously, if your roof is leaking, water is getting into your house somehow. But figuring out exactly how the water is getting in can be a challenge. If you’re struggling to figure out why your roof is leaking, try looking at these four reasons your roof might be leaking.
#1. Your Shingles Are Damaged
Your shingles are the first place to look for damage that could lead to a leak. Depending on your roofing material and the age of the roof, shingles may be damaged in different ways.
The most common residential roofing material is asphalt shingle. Today there are two main types of asphalt shingle in use. Three-tab asphalt shingle is the flat, regular asphalt shingle that has covered most suburban homes since the 1950s. Today, however, many new asphalt shingle roofs are made with laminated or architectural shingle. Architectural is thicker and has more varied shapes, giving it higher durability and a more natural appearance than the three-tab variety.
If your roof is three-tab shingle and is reaching 20 years old or more, chances are your shingles are showing their age. Years of weather can cause shingles to dry, crack, and curl. The protective granules on the shingles can slough off, exposing the shingles to damaging UV rays. If you’re noticing leaks on a 20-year-old roof, have it inspected as soon as right away. It’s possible you may be able to get by with some repairs, but it may be time for a full replacement.
Architectural shingle, on the other hand, can last 30 to 50 years. A roof inspection will tell you whether you’re better off repairing or replacing an architectural shingle roof.
If you have a tile roof, look for cracks. Cracks are the most common damage to tile roofs, and a cracked shingle can usually be replaced easily. However, it is crucial that you check the underlayment beneath a cracked and leaking tile. If water has gotten past the tile and into the underlayment, you may need to replace a damaged section of underlayment.
#2. Your Flashing is Damaged
Flashing is the sheet metal that protects your roof at its most vulnerable points. Typically, flashing is installed in the valleys where two roof slopes meet. It is also installed around roof penetrations, like chimneys, vents, and skylights. If your house has a dormer, flashing is also installed where your roof meets the wall of the dormer.
Flashing is a critical component of your roof’s water barrier. The sheet metal is stronger and less permeable than your shingles and protects areas with high water flow. It also helps prevent water seeping in at the seams where shingles meet. But metal is susceptible to damage. If the sheet metal is dented by hail, falling debris, or even careless roofers’ boots, it can develop rust. Eventually, rusty dents become small holes, and small holes become leaks.
Another vulnerable part of your flashing is the edge where it meets the roof. The edge of the flashing is usually sealed with rubber sealant. Years of sun and changing temperatures can cause it to dry and crack. Those cracks can allow water through, which eventually becomes a leak.
#3. Your Roofing Nails are Coming Loose
Most shingle is attached to your roof with a combination of nails and adhesive. Usually, the nails are a great way to keep your shingles firmly attached to the decking beneath. But over time some nails can start to back out. As a nail backs out, it can leave a tiny space for water to get in. If the nail comes out completely, it can leave an even larger hole. If water is getting under your shingles because of loose nails, it can start to eat away at the underlayment beneath the shingles.
As with most leaks, you don’t notice the leak when the water first gets past the shingles. Instead, the leak has a long way to go and a long path of destruction before it hits your living room. First, the water will hit the underlayment. This is a layer of tar-impregnated felt or a similar synthetic material. It forms an extra weather barrier, but water can eventually damage it enough to create a hole. From there, the water will hit your roof decking. The decking is almost always plywood and is susceptible to water damage. Water may also flow along the deck until it finds an easier way into your house. Once water has penetrated the decking and made it into your attic, a leak is sure to follow. The water will drip into your attic or follow beams and pipes to the lowest possible point, where it will pool and drip. You’ll only notice the leak once the water has pooled and dripped enough to start coming through your ceiling.
#4. Your Chimney is Cracked
A fireplace is a great addition to any home. It can keep you warm in the winter and provides a great focal point for whichever room it is in. But, like the rest of your house, chimneys age and can be damaged over time. One common cause of chimney damage is shifting due to the house settling. Older homes can settle quite a bit. You may notice that parts of your floor are not even or walls are separating slightly. A little settling over the years is usually unavoidable. But a chimney made of brick doesn’t have a lot of give. If your house shifts, the chimney can become cracked, giving water a way into your house. The water may not actually come in through your fireplace, though. It is possible that the water will get in and then flow to another point in the house.
Brick chimneys are also built with mortar, which can weaken as it ages. Some mortar can develop small pits where the mortar is eaten away by years of weather. If a pit becomes large and deep enough, it can be another point for water to enter the home.
What to Do When Your Roof Leaks
If your roof is leaking, don’t wait to get it taken care of. A leaking roof if just the tip of the iceberg. By the time water gets to the interior of your home, there is a lot of damage behind it. The longer you wait, the worse the damage will be and the more expensive it will be to repair. The first thing you should do it bring in a trusted roofer to do a full inspection. You can find a TrustDALE certified roofer in your area here.
A roofer will take stock of your roof and determine the source of the leak. Once the roofer finds the source of the leak, they can provide you with options for repair. If the damage isn’t very widespread, a simple fix may be possible. If the damage is worse, you may need a full replacement. But without a reliable inspection, there is no way to know the extent of the damage. Once you know the damage, a reliable TrustDALE certified roofer can help you decide the best path forward. And when you use TrustDALE certified roofers, you can rest assured that you have the best service and highly competitive pricing.