Taking care of your roof is the best way to ensure that your roof will take care of you and your family. Regular home maintenance helps prevent your home from becoming vulnerable to leaks and other moisture-related issues such as mold growth, wood rot, and basement flooding. Common reasons residential roofs leak include clogged gutters, worn seals, and decomposing debris.
Aging Roofing System
One of the most common reasons for a leaking roof is the age of the roofing system. As with any other system of your home’s exterior, your roof will get tired and not do as good a job in protecting your home. Roof shingles become worn, losing their protective granules; soffit and fascia get exposed to too much sun; shingles start to curl (lift away from the roof deck); or the roof membrane starts to deteriorate. These typical signs of wear often let water in where moisture can cause mischief – wood rot, mold, and even structural damage.
If you don’t know when you last cleaned the gutters or it’s really obvious since you can see actual plants peeking over the top, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect problems with the roof. Gutters should be cleaned once in the spring after flowering trees have finished blossoming and then again in the fall after the leaves have dropped. Blocked gutters and downspouts can force the overflow up into the soffit and fascia, in between the back of the gutter and the fascia and down the siding; or over the top of the gutter trough up into the eaves (the first two or three rows of roofing shingles).
Flashing is a thin sheet of metal used to act as a shield in areas where the roof meet the edges of other components of the roofing system such as chimneys, dormer windows, skylights, and other types of roof protrusions. Some roofing companies place flashing along the roof’s edge underneath the first row of shingles to reduce the chance of leaks forming where runoff enters the gutters. When flashing becomes damaged in any one or more of these areas, water can get in and over time create a leak you will have to repair.
Another often-seen type of roof protrusion is vents – turbine, cupola, and box just to name a few. They are usually sealed with the corresponding material sealant. When the sealant becomes worn, cracked, or missing, leaks can occur.
Missing Shingles and Hardware
Damaged shingles are vulnerable to windy days: if they become lose or go missing, there are gaps in your roof’s protection. One of the most telling signs that shingles are starting to come lose is the appearance of raised nails. Even the slightest gap between the nailhead and the shingle can allow moisture to get in.
Leaves, bits of twigs, pine cones, and other kinds of organic matter might block water from properly draining from the roof into the gutters. Pooling water can damage shingles and cause leaks.
Another factor to keep in mind is that debris will decompose if left sitting on a roof. When organic matter sticks to roof shingles and doesn’t blow away, leaves and twigs are typically wet, and wet debris attracts even more moisture. When not dealt with, this moisture buildup can seep in behind shingles and leak into the underlayment or even into the ceilings inside the house.