Why is My Roof Leaking? 10 Common Causes of Roof Leaks
A roof leak is extremely aggravating. It can cause water damage to your ceilings and walls, mold in your home’s insulation, or rotting rafters and roof sheathing. Something that starts as a small problem (a roof leak) can lead to big damage (and even bigger headaches!).
It’s pretty frustrating trying to figure out what’s wrong, particularly because the spots where you notice signs of leakage usually don’t correspond to where the leak actually is.
So, what are the most common areas you can check if you notice a leak in your roof?
A plumbing vent pipe is a common culprit for leaks. Often the rubber boot on the vent will be worn or torn,
the metal/plastic base will have a crack or broken seam, or a few nails will be loose or missing. If any of these issues are present, water will be able to enter your roof along the pipe.
Like plumbing vents, any vent or exhaust flue in your roof is a place where leaks are more likely to develop. Again, check the rubber boot, the base, and the nails. Look for cracked housing and broken seams in the vent.
Flashing refers to the thinmetal sheet that covers transitions point in your roof. These areas of the roof are most vulnerable, which is why we use flashing in the first place! Of course, if the flashing becomes corroded or damaged, that’s when it stops doing its job and you start seeing leaks.
Look at the flashing in all transition points (where roof meets a wall, dormer, or another roof plane).
Old holes left over from a satellite dish or antenna mounted on your roof can be a sneaky cause of leaks.
Walls (and Dormers)
Okay, so these leaks aren’t actually coming from the roof – but they probably look like they are! While you’re checking the roof for the site of the leak, don’t forget to investigate around windows, corner boards, and siding for cracks, damage, and holes.
Oh, we love skylights when they let in what they’re supposed to – sunlight! But when they let in the moisture and rain, they’re not so great. Unfortunately, leaky skylights are pretty common. If you have any, it’s definitely something you want to keep an eye on.
Chimneys are another point of weakness when it comes to your roof. Water can pool around it and find lots of ways into your home, and small imperfections can lead to trickles.
Also, the flashing (discussed above) around your chimney is a common point of failure, often causing chimney-related leaks.
We live in Ontario – so you’d better believe ice dams are a problem in our cold winter climate!
An ice dam is when your warm attic melts the snow on your roof in the winter. The melted snow flows down to the eaves and freezes there, eventually backing up under the shingles and flashings. When warm weather comes along, that frozen water melts, dripping into your home.
Soffit and Fascia
“Soffits” are the metal or wood panels along the underside of the roof between the siding and the roofline. “Fascia” are the metal or wood boards along the roofline or behind the gutter.
These two areas can rot or degrade over time, causing soft, damaged spots or holes. When the damage starts to spread, you may start to see leaks in your home. (Even if you don’t see leaks, you should always ensure your soffit and fascia are well-maintained!)
Shingles don’t last forever. They usually aren’t the first place you should look for a leak, but once they are old and worn enough, they can become a problem. Corroded, cracked, broken, and missing shingles cause leaks and may need to be repaired.
If your roof is old enough, you may need to replace it entirely.
You don’t need to wait until your roof actually has a leak! Proper roof upkeep will stop problems in their tracks, before the damage begins to spread. But if you do spot a leak, these are the usual suspects to check when you’re looking for the source.
Serving customers in Burlington, Hamilton, Oakville, Niagara, and St. Catharines.
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