Leaking roofs can become a challenge for many homeowners. It happens in the most inconvenient times and they can lead to significant damage to the interior of your home. The effects of leakage can linger long after the repair has been made in the form of mold growth on the interior surfaces of your home. Sometimes trying to figure out the source of the roof leak can be much more challenging. Mainly for the reason that the source of the leak on the outside of the home rarely matches the leak that appears on the inside of the home. Therefore, leading to frustration for the homeowner who is attempting to repair it. Locating the source of a roof leak is definitely not an exact science. It’s more of a process of elimination since a roof leak can happen for many different reasons and there is not always a direct result of one specific problem associated with your roof.
Identifying Roofing System Leaks
When there are signs of water damage or dripping water coming from the ceiling that is directly below an attic space or directly below the roof surface itself, the true cause is most likely a hole or some type of damage in the shingles or other roofing material that makes up the roofing system. When there is active water dripping, it might come out brown or dirty when it’s coming from your roof. This is happening because the water that is making its way into your home is picking up dirt and impurities on the way. During the winter season, if your ceiling is leaking or seems damaged it could be the presence of ice buildup along the eaves of your house. This means that more than likely, you have ice dams that are causing the water to back up under the shingles and down onto the ceiling. Ice dams mainly appear on the edges of the roof so the leaking would often be near the edge of the room or even on the surface of the walls, since the water may be dripping directly down into the walls.
Causes of Roof Leaks
As stated before, leaking roofs can happen out of nowhere and they can become extremely frustrating. They can happen on a newly installed roof or an aged one. Roofing materials such as shingles get old and worn. The change in temperatures can cause an aging roofing system to turn brittle and eventually crack. During the summer weather, the harsh rays from direct sunlight can melt the tar that holds the composition of the shingles together within a number of years.
Brick chimneys may seem indestructible, however, what binds the bricks together is a working mixture of water, sand, and cement. When exposed to natural weathering it can gradually be destroyed and crumble over time. Therefore, you should check the mud cap on top of the chimney for any deterioration. If you have a chimney, flashing is one of the most common issues on a roof. Flashing is thin strips of metal that are installed at a danger point for leaks around a roof. Chimneys are bent at a 90-degree angle in order to attach to both the roofing material and the brick of a chimney. When it comes to flashing it needs to be properly sealed to protect against water intrusion. It also needs to remain nailed in place because the metal can rust and crack.
Clogged gutters are another cause of leaking roofs. The reason being that gutters are meant to prevent any water from building up in your roof by leading the water into the downspout and out away from your home. Therefore, when your gutters are clogged it becomes a problem. Especially if it’s left untreated for a long time. When the gutter is left filled with water it starts to cause the gutter and metal sides of the roof to rust, making it weaker as each day passes and making the gutter more prone to tearing a hole in the entire roof. The wooden part of your roof starts to develop mold, fungus or eventually it would start to rot because the roof was left soaking in water. When that happens in a matter of time the underlying material and ceiling end up affected and bringing leakage. Water more than likely would seep into the insides of your home.
Attic condensation can cause roof leaks as well, especially during the winter. Attic condensation is uncommon, however, some people may mistake ice dams for attic condensation during the winter. Homeowners might call their local roofing company and have the ice dams removed and yet still have continuous leakage. In that case, the issue would most likely be attic condensation. The problem would stem from water vapor from inside your home, making its way into your attic. When that warm vapor cools, the moisture starts to combine into big, damaging droplets all over the wooden surfaces in your attic. When that happens it eventually causes enough condensation that causes visible leaks and other problems.
Finding Roof Leaks
Leaking roofs are caused by numerous things and trying to find where the leaks are coming from can be an easy situation, but it can also be one of the most difficult things to find. Going up to the roof is one of the first things to do in order to track down the cause of the issue. When looking, be sure to look for any roof penetration. The reason is that items that penetrate the roof are the most common cause of leaks. It’s pretty rare to have any leaks from uninterrupted shingles, even with older roofs. Penetrations can occur from roof vents, chimneys, or anything else that projects through the roof. If you have an attic, the easiest way to find a leak is to go up with a flashlight and look for the evidence. There definitely would be water stains, black marks, or mold. However, if there is an issue with getting into the attic your best bet is to go up the roof and examine the issue. Sometimes there are leaks that are difficult to find, however, you can find it by first having someone help with a garden hose on the roof. Start by soaking the area above where the leak appears in the house. However, if the water doesn’t seem to reveal with that method, start removing shingles in the suspected area. Doing that would provide evidence of the leak and therefore you would be able to track it right to the source. You would be able to see some discolored felt paper or water stain or even rotted wood directly below and around a leaky roof.
If you have an attic and you’re looking for leaks you can use a flashlight and point it toward the underside of the roof. The light would reflect when hitting the water, making it much easier for you to see any water. The flashlight would also help you see any punctures or holes in the roof.
Finding Flat Roof Leaks
Compared to all other leaking roofs, finding the source of a leak on a flat roof can be quite challenging. Water travels in a downward motion which helps provide some clues to where you can locate a sloped roof leak, however, with flat roofing the water can travel in any direction. In order to determine exactly where the leak is located, getting up on the roof to examine it in dry weather is your best bet. You can inspect the flat roofing surface for any signs of a leak such as a low spot surrounded by a dirt-stained ring which is from a pooling of water. This is what is known as a dry puddle. These are very very common on flat roofs. Once you find a dry puddle you will often be able to find the leak, right there in the center.
Another common cause of flat leaking roofs is flashing which is the same for any other roof. Flashing is thin pieces of sheet metal, or sometimes a different material, that is used on steep angular joins on raised or protruding areas of the roof, like chimneys. It is used to help seal, waterproof and prevent any water from entering the premises. Flashing can peel and crack as well as get holes. Therefore, that is something that should be checked in order to avoid any leakage. What can also happen is when we have periods of intense heat over the years, the top material can start to bubble up and develop a crack making it another potential source of a leak. In order to make sure the area that you suspect is the source of the leak, just like other leak tests, take a hose up to the roof and spray the area before returning inside to see if the water drips inside near the spot, or you can have a friend help you with this. If this is something that you feel that you wouldn’t want to do yourself, local flat roofing contractors are your best bet. Many commercial roof repair companies have well trained flat roofing specialists that know exactly how to get the job done very efficiently. Therefore, hiring local flat roofing contractors would be a lot more convenient than you and your friend doing it yourselves.
Roof Leak Repair
Some people would rather repair their own roofs when they have leakage. However, the safest way is to contact local roof repair companies. Roof repair companies have a specialist that would repair any damages. As well as for the fact that they are trained in roofing they would know the cause and be able to give you the right information and prevent any future leaks. However, if a roof repair company is not something you would want to go with, fixing it yourself would be the way to go. Roof leak repair is not an easy job, it requires some steps. That is why we recommend when it comes to a roof leak repair to go with a roofing company.
Remember that there could be more than one source of the leak which could be leading water into one low spot underneath the roofing material. Any other issues of repair that happens to be identified during your examination, whether it’s not resulting in a leak yet should be repaired sooner than later. Just so that any future problems can be avoided and become less of a hassle for you as a homeowner.