No one wants to hear that dreaded “drip drip drip” that means you’ve got a roof leak. Or looking up and suddenly seeing a big dark spot on the ceiling. But when you do, your first thoughts are probably “how did this happen?” and “where exactly is this coming from?” Understanding the answers to these two questions is the key to getting your roof leak fixed quickly and efficiently and also to possibly avoiding them in the first place.
How do roof leaks start?
Typically, a leak will start one of two ways: damage or deterioration. However, there are many different types of both damage and deterioration that may have occurred and that might not be immediately obvious. Here are several that are common for homes in the Hampton Roads area.
This likely is the most obvious source of a roof leak and also one of the most common in the Tidewater region. Thanks to hurricanes, nor’easters, snow storms and torrential rains, there are myriad ways a Hampton Roads roof can be damaged. But storm damage isn’t always as obvious as a giant tree falling through your roof. Sometimes damage can occur that isn’t noticeable right away. Hurricane force winds can blow flashing off a house, which can eventually lead to water damage and leaks. Winter storms can cause limbs heavy with snow or ice to drop onto a roof and cause a hole that you aren’t able to see or hear right away. Torrential rain can cause gutters to overflow and damage roof decking.
Your homeowners insurance may cover this type of damage, but you have to identify it and file your claim in a timely manner. This means that after each major storm, you should visually inspect your property for any damage on both the inside and outside of your roof. If you believe any damage may have occurred, you should call a licensed roofing company to come and physically inspect and provide any estimates needed for insurance purposes.
Clogged gutters are a common cause of roof leaks, but they are also one of the most preventable. When gutters are clogged, water can build up on the roof, getting under the shingles and causing water damage that could eventually lead to a leak. If you notice dark spots on your ceiling near the outer edges of the house, this may be a gutter issue. Cleaning your gutters (or having them cleaned by a professional) 3-4 times a year is the best way to avoid this issue altogether.
Believe it or not, a leak can start inside your home, without the exterior of your roof being damaged at all. That’s because condensation build up in an attic can cause interior leaks. This happens when there is not proper ventilation or proper insulation that would prevent extreme temperature changes – something that is not uncommon here in southeast Virginia. In addition to causing leaks, this condensation build up can also be the source of mold and mildew. Ensuring proper ventilation and insulation is installed in your attic and along your roof line is critical to avoid this type of leak.
Missing or Damaged Flashing
Flashing is just as critical to the integrity of your roof as shingles. Flashing is the metal that covers joints and seams on a roof, and when it is not installed and sealed properly, water can enter and damage the roof decking. If flashing isn’t well attached, it can move or get blown away during a storm. It also ages just like shingles, so corrosion or cracks in the metal could also allow water to enter your home. If some of your flashing is visible from the ground, inspect it after every major storm. However, some flashing may be difficult to see or access and in those cases, a licensed roofing contractor can inspect those areas if you believe there is an issue.
If your roof is nearing the end of its lifespan, it may be deteriorating and causing leaks. Every roof has a lifespan, although that number can vary greatly depending on the material used. For traditional asphalt shingles, 20 years is usually the lifespan. Fiber cement shingles can last closer to 30 and metal roofing can last for 50 or more years. As roofing materials age, they can become brittle and shingles may crack or warp, allowing water to get underneath. They may also fall off more easily – even during a less than severe storm. If you know your roof is nearing the end of its life, it’s better to replace it before a leak causes interior damage, requiring you to repair multiple areas of your home.
What to do when your roof starts leaking
When a leak occurs, it’s time to bring in the professionals. Roof repair can be dangerous for the average DIY’er and if not done properly, can cause more damage or void material warranties. Instead, research your local roofing contractors and find one with a good reputation in your community. The sooner you contact them, the less damage the leak can cause, so don’t put this task off.
At Andrews Roofing, we’ve been helping homeowners in Hampton Roads repair or replace their roofs for decades. We have experience with the specific types of damage and leaks common in this area, and we have the knowledge, skills and experience to make it right, right away. Contact us today.