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Understanding Roof Leaks: Causes, Signs, and Effective Solutions


A roof leak might seem like a minor issue–until it isn’t. 


As the home’s first point of contact with the outside world, issues with the roof have a way of extending to the rest of the house. In addition, small problems in the roof are susceptible to compounding exponentially as the insidious effects of air and moisture damage set in.


Therefore, it is vital to guarantee that your roof is in top condition at all times to protect the structural integrity of your home. In this article, we will explore some of the most common causes and symptoms of a leaking roof and discuss a few ways to help improve the condition. 

Causes of a Roof Leak



Although the roof might look like nothing more than a protective cover, it actually has a number of intricate components that must work in harmony. If any of these elements are damaged, faulty, or installed incorrectly, it can open the door for a roof leak. With this in mind, a few of the myriad factors that can cause a leaking roof include:


  • – Old age: Like anything in life, time can play havoc on your roof. It can cause the materials in your roof to deteriorate, making them more susceptible to leaks. This is especially common in areas with extreme weather conditions, such as high winds or heavy snow. Any time your roof gets past 25 years, it is important to be extra vigilant in looking for leaks.
  • – Condensation in the attic: Condensation can occur when warm, moist air from inside your home meets the cold air in your attic. It is an especially relevant threat in cold climates during the winter. This can lead to the formation of water droplets, which can eventually degrade the roof substrate.
  • – Acute damage from a major event: A major storm, such as a hurricane or tornado, can cause significant damage to your roof, leading to leaks. This is especially common if your roof is not properly maintained or if it is already in a weakened condition.
  • – Clogged gutters: Gutters are designed to carry rainwater away from your roof. If they are clogged with leaves or debris, they can overflow and cause water to back up onto your roof, leading to a leak.


If your home checks any of these boxes, you are at heightened risk of a roof leak and need to be ready to take action if any symptoms present themselves.  


Signs of a Leaking Roof



Speaking of symptoms, there are a number of ways that a leaking roof may reveal itself. Some of the most common include:


  • – Water stains on the walls and ceilings: This is one of the most obvious signs of a roof leak. The water can seep through the roof and into the walls, causing them to become stained. If you see any water stains, it’s important to investigate further to find the source of the leak.
  • – Distorted or damaged shingles: If your shingles are distorted or damaged, it can be a sign that there’s a leak underneath. The water can cause the shingles to buckle and curl, and it can also cause them to rot. If you see any damaged shingles, it’s important to replace them as soon as possible.
  • – Light coming through the roof: If you see light coming through your roof, it’s a sure sign that there’s a leak. The water can cause the roof to sag, which can create gaps between the shingles. These gaps allow light to come through, and they can also make your roof more susceptible to more extensive leaks.


If you see any of these signs, it’s important to locate the source of the leak and take appropriate action.


Effective Solutions for Repairing a Roof Leak



There are several ways to remedy a leaking roof. Some are as simple as a DIY sealant application, while others may require the assistance of a professional contractor for a more full-scale renovation. 


Apply a Sealant


Sealants are a versatile and straightforward solution for repairing minor roof leaks. They can be applied to various roof substrates, including metal, concrete, and asphalt shingles. Sealants work by filling in gaps and cracks, preventing water from seeping into the roof.


Water sealants, in particular, are designed to withstand exposure to moisture and extreme temperatures. They form a watertight seal that can last for several years. To apply a water sealant, simply clean the affected area and apply the sealant using a caulking gun or brush. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application.


Sealants can also be used around flashing to shore up small leaks. Flashing is a thin piece of metal or plastic that is installed around roof penetrations, such as chimneys and vents. Sealants can help to seal any gaps between the flashing and the roof, preventing water from seeping in.


While sealants can be an effective means of repairing small, localized leaks, they may not be the best option for more extensive damage. If you have a large leak or if the damage is widespread, it is best to consult with a professional roofer for advice on the best course of action.


Replace Damaged Shingles


If your roof is leaking, it may be necessary to replace damaged shingles or sections of the roof. Replacing damaged shingles can help stop the leak and restore the look and function of your roof. In addition, replacing old shingles can make your roof more energy-efficient and extend its life span.


When replacing shingles, it’s important to upgrade to hail resistant shingles or other types of class-4 impact-resistant materials. This will help prevent future damage from hail, wind, and other elements. Additionally, installing new shingles can improve the look of your home and increase its value.


To install new shingles, you’ll need to remove the old shingles, clean the roof, and apply a new layer of roofing felt. Then, you can install the new shingles using roofing nails or other fasteners. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation, and always use safety equipment when working on your roof.


Perform a Complete Roof Renovation


In some cases, a severely damaged roof may require a complete renovation. This is the best way to guarantee the safety, aesthetics, and energy efficiency of the roof. When performing a complete roof renovation, it is important to use high-quality materials, such as roof cover board and other types of insulation, to make the roof as air- and moisture-tight as possible.


Roof cover board is a lightweight, durable material that is often used as a base for roofing shingles. It is made from a variety of materials, including fiberglass, asphalt, and metal. Roof cover board helps to protect the roof from leaks and provides additional insulation.


Other types of insulation, such as fiberglass batts and spray foam, can also be used to improve the energy efficiency of a roof. Insulation helps to keep the interior of a home cool in the summer and warm in the winter, which can lead to lower energy bills.


Contact a Professional to Stay Ahead of Roof Leaks


A quality roof is critical for guaranteeing the safety, comfort, aesthetics, and energy efficiency of your home. As such, it is vital to stay ahead of any leaks. If you aren’t sure about the condition of your roof or what steps to take to rehabilitate it, contact the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association today for a LeakFREE® Roof Inspection!


Roger Marx is a freelance writer that loves sharing his knowledge and expertise on the latest trending building and design products. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota where he enjoys spending time with his wife and working on backyard projects in his spare time. Roger’s work as a freelance writer can be found on Building Product Advisor, a construction industry resource site.

Kari Meyer

Operations for NRCIA

Author: Kari Meyer

Operations for NRCIA