Consequences of a Leaking Roof

Water damage can have a serious impact on your home, its structure, and the health of you and your family. One of the main sources of leaks, aside from obvious plumbing issues, is the roof. To complicate matters, roof leaks can take time to become noticeable enough to track down. When a roof does spring a leak, it’s important to fix the problem as soon as possible to avoid it from becoming a costly repair. Consequences of a leaking roof include compromised structural integrity, spikes in utility bills, and mold.

The Structure of Your Home

The structure of your home is mostly constructed of wood, including the roof. When ceiling beams, rafters, window and door trims, and wall framing are damaged by leaks from somewhere in the roofing system, the structural integrity of the roof and of the house itself can be compromised if the water damage is extensive enough. Damp wood is prone to wood rot, and if not repaired in a timely fashion, weakens the wood, reducing how effectively it protects your home’s exterior.

Possible Fire Hazard

When there is electrical wiring in the attic or ceiling, water leaking from the roof is a possible fire hazard. Until the threat from shorted wires can be neutralized, turn off the power to the affected area. It is advisable to have a licensed electrician examine the electrical system before the power is turned back on.

Damage to the Attic and Ceilings

If your home does have an attic, a stained attic ceiling or walls is the most obvious indication that the roof is leaking. A leaking roof might also damage items stored there or leak on to beams or wood flooring and cause wood rot.

When there is no attic, the leak can collect on the underside of the roof and grow big enough to stain the interior ceilings of a house. Damage to ceilings around fans and light fixtures such as chandeliers might pose a fire hazard if the water from the leak damages electrical wires and shorts the circuit. If it doesn’t cause a fire there is still the possibility that the fan or light fixture will not work properly.

Spiking Utility Bills

 A leaking roof can be the cause of spiking utility bills. If there is water getting into the attic or seeping into the insulation of interior walls, water-soaked insulation does not perform well. Heating and cooling the outside of your home is not energy efficient or eco-friendly. When cold air is allowed to enter your home or warm air escapes, a spike in your utility bills is a sign that the temperature of a home’s interior is not being properly regulated.

Mold and Mildew Issues

When roof leaks are detected later rather than sooner, damp areas can go for a while without drying out. One of the most common consequences of a leaking roof is mold and mildew growth. Mold on a home’s exterior can get inside the house, growing on interior walls or spreading throughout a home via the HVAC system

Black mold is the most common type resulting from chronic leaks. While black mold is non-toxic, it can still attack wood framing, attic flooring, walls, tiled ceilings, and carpets. Mold is difficult to get rid and can be particularly costly to remove from furniture, fabrics, and certain types of floor coverings.

Tips to Prevent Roof Leaks

It’s easy to forget about the roof – it just there protecting your home. But it needs your help to stay healthy. Here are some tips to help you prevent your roof from leaking.

Professional inspections: Not all roofing problems are easily detectable. An inspection by a certified roofing contractor should be conducted once every two years – he or she will be able to tell you if there is anything wrong and advise you what needs to be repaired soon and what can wait.

Homeowner inspections: Every six months, conduct an inspection of your own. Look for missing asphalt shingles, damp patches, damaged roofing shingles, and loose or damaged flashings. Also check other roof protrusions such as chimneys, vents, and skylights for flashing/seal damage.

After an active storm: Heavy rain storms and active wind storms are common events in the Lower Mainland. After an active storm inspect the roof for any damage, especially missing roofing shingles – it’s the most common place water gets into a roofing system. When there is a lot of debris like twigs, broken branches, and leaves on the ground, check the condition of the trees on your property to ensure they don’t require attention.

Regular home maintenance: Schedule times for regular home maintenance. Whether you’re having an inspection or roof cleaning done by a roofing contractor or you plan to do the repairs yourself, put it on the calendar or on a to-do list on your phone. Roof maintenance is harder to forget if you have a visual reminder. Your gutters will thank you too – a clean roof means less debris in a gutter system.