Six Major Causes of Roof Leaks
and How to Deal With Them
Roof leaks are a serious matter. And while most people think they know how to identify them, you can't always tell right away that you have a leak.
Here are six major causes of leaks, and how to deal with them:
1. Vents and exhausts-related roof leaks
Vents and exhausts-related roof leaks are the most common causes of a leaky roof. This means that you need to check if there are any loose vent boots or loosened seals. Make sure that there is no vent flashing that needs to be replaced.
If you notice rusting on your vents, it's time to do maintenance work on them. Many homeowners might attempt this DIY project themselves but it's definitely not recommended unless you're an expert in this field.
2. Roof attachment-related roof leaks
As with any other building material, roofing materials are not always durable and can sometimes degrade over time. The average lifespan of a roof is anywhere from 20 to 40 years; the length of time will vary depending on the type of roof and its exposure to environmental elements.
Roofing materials are also susceptible to damage during installation and throughout their lifetime. If your contractor accidentally steps on one, that could lead to a leak later down the road. Roofers often have to remove tiles or shingles to work on different parts of your home's infrastructure—roofing material is easily damaged when being removed or replaced by an inexperienced contractor.
On top of all that, weather can cause damage as well by creating cracks or holes in your roof's surface, allowing water to enter your home.
3. Dormer-related roof leaks
You might be surprised to learn that dormers, which are typically thought of as a well-designed architectural feature, can also be a source of roof leaks. They’re often used to increase the amount of natural light and space in an attic or upper level of your home.
How can something so pretty cause such trouble? It’s actually because they protrude from the slope of the roof. Flashing is installed at their base to seal the gap where the dormer meets the roof, but if it isn’t maintained properly (or if it wasn’t installed correctly in the first place) water can seep through that area and into your attic or upper level.
If you have a leaky dormer, we recommend calling in an expert to help you identify where exactly your leak is originating from and what should be done about it—you may need to replace some shingles or flashing.
4. Chimney-related roof leaks
Chimneys are a common source of roof leaks. The flashing around the base of your chimney is prone to damage because it’s made of metal, and metal can rust and/or corrode with time. There are also mortar joints that surround the flashing (the material used to fill in gaps between bricks or stones) which can develop cracks over time. If this happens, water will seep into those cracks and trickle down the flue (the internal channel through which smoke flows), potentially causing mould growth or even damage to your fireplace.
Prevent chimney-related roof leaks by performing regular maintenance on your roof so you can catch problems before they get too big. The earlier you spot a problem, the easier it is to fix and the less likely you’ll have to deal with additional issues caused by ignoring it for too long.
5. Gutter-related roof leaks
Clogged gutters can overflow, spill over into the eaves and lofts of your home, and eventually weaken the sheathing of your roof deck.
If your gutter system is not installed properly, it won't be able to do its job as designed. Leaks will also occur when gutters are too small for the water run-off or not pitched properly or installed with enough downspouts (or with downspouts that are too short). In short, pay attention to your gutter system and clean them out regularly to avoid repairs to the decking of your roof. If there is already a breakdown, then you should call experts and do a gutter replacement, so that your roof lives longer!
6. Flashing-related roof leaks
Flashing-related roof leaks typically happen during the spring and summer seasons, when snow melts or persistent rains occur.
When improperly installed flashing allows water to penetrate through the roof’s weak spots and cause leaks within your home or business establishment. Common examples are loose flashings that lift due to wind uplift pressure; gaps between chimney bricks or pipes that were not properly sealed with caulks; deteriorated chimney flashing; holes in the flashing due to corrosion; or missing shingles on top of the flashing that cause improper drainage of water from the roof surface down to its gutters.
Never ignore a leaking roof - fix it on time!