Top 9 Common Causes of Roof Leaks

Your roof keeps you and your family safe during harsh weather and the trials of every day life. It works hard to make sure that you’re kept dry and comfortable. As nice as it’d be for this protection to last forever, eventually your roof will wear down and need repairing or even a replacement. Even if you take the best care of your roof and regularly maintain it with a professional roofing company, problems can still arise. One of the most annoying types of problems that homeowners deal with is a roof leak. Leaks are persistent and can cause immeasurable damage to your home when left untreated, so it’s important to address them as soon as possible. To help you better understand your roof and how to go about fixing it, here are the top 9 common causes of roof leaks.

1. Shingle Damage

Common Causes of Leaking Roof

Shingles are your roof’s first line of defense. They take a lot of damage from harsh winds, rains, freezing temperatures, and UV damage. Over time, shingles can and will be subject to damage. When you catch these problems early on, they’re an easy fix. You can have a professional roofing company come in, make yearly inspections, and take care of damages as they accumulate, or some people prefer to fix damaged shingles on their own. Regardless, you will need to get them fixed, as shingle damage is one of the most common causes of roof leaks. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to spot a damaged or missing shingle. If the shingle is gone altogether, there will be an opening in your roof. If it’s damaged, it will appear to be discolored or partially missing.

When shingles are damaged or removed due to high winds or harsh weather, they no longer form an impenetrable barrier between the outdoors and your home. This means that water will seep in and cause damage to your home. Leaks from shingle damage might not be noticed at first, but the consistent accumulation of water can lead to substantial structural stability issues, mold, mildew, and ventilation problems.

2. Clogged Gutters

Clogged gutters are another one of the most common causes of roof leaks and are 100% preventable. When leaves and debris pile up on your roof, they’ll slide down and get caught in your gutters along with the rain. Over time, when you don’t regularly clean your gutters, this will lead to leaks. In certain instances of clogged gutters, you’ll be able to see the debris piling up from the ground. Other times, you might not even realize they’re clogged until a leak occurs. To combat this problem, simply take the time to regularly clean your gutters and downspout. This will reduce the likelihood that you’ll experience roof leaks and other damages to your home from your gutters.

3. Skylight Problems

Skylight problems are noticeable. You’ll be able to tell when you’re having skylight problems straight away, as the rain will drip into your home from the skylight above. More often than not, these problems are an indication that whoever installed your skylight didn’t do it correctly. While the installation itself might have gone smoothly, skylight problems occur when the roof, or the skylight itself, wasn’t measured properly during the process. This will commonly lead to roof leaks, as the fit needs to be airtight to ensure that there are no places for water to seep in.

If skylight problems start occurring years after installation, the insulation that was installed along the edges of your skylight is probably starting to decay. Either way, getting a professional to come and fix your skylight problems is highly recommended. Taking on this project as a DIY one can be dangerous and could lead to more serious problems.

4. Damaged Flashing

Every roof has flashing—it is comprised of thing metal strips underneath the shingles that help seal your roof. Flashing creates a barrier that, when working properly, is water-resistant. It helps to ensure that your roof stays protected and your home stays dry. Over time, this can crack and lead to roof leaks. Since tar or caulk is commonly used to seal flashing together, it needs to be maintained and re-sealed every now and again to avoid corrosive damages. When flashing is exposed to the elements, it becomes much more fragile and susceptible to damages. To fix any roof leaks that are caused by damaged flashing, call your professional roofing contractor. This is another job that’s best left to the professionals, as they may have to do extensive work to repair all of the damages to your flashing.

Flashing is installed where two different sections of roof meet, near the base of a chimney, and around any skylights that are installed on your roof.

5. Chimney Cracks

Another common cause of roof leaks is a cracked chimney. When there’s even a tiny crack, a small stream of water can trickle into your home consistently and cause damages. This is often due to the sensitivity of mortar to water. Over time, it will erode, especially when exposed to harsh weather. Since your chimney juts out a bit from your roof, it generally deteriorates faster than any brick and mortar you have on your home. To check for cracks, inspect your chimney’s mortar joints and any mortar around the chimney itself. If you notice any cracks or missing areas, simply replacing the mortar should take care of the leaks. However, tuckpointing can be a tedious and difficult task, so talk to your roofing professional to make sure that you’re doing the right thing.

6. Soffit or Fascia Damage

Rain Falling Off Leaking Roof

Your soffits and fascias are parts of your roof that are often seen as decorative pieces. However, they actually contribute to the overall functioning of your roof and ventilation of your attic. Soffits and fascia can help reduce leaks when they’re working, but when they’re damaged they can lead to roof leaks. Make visual inspections to your soffits and fascia to ensure that no damages are present.

7. Improper Seals

Unless you have a flat roof, your residential roof will have a number of areas where two different planes meet. This occurs at the top of a slope and is sealed together using caulk or sealant. If this wasn’t sealed properly during your roof installation, it will leak. Rainwater will enter and run into your attic through the tops of your roof. The improper seals might also be due to intense freeze-thaw cycles where ice and rain cause expedited deterioration. For whatever reason, if you’re experiencing roof leaks from improper seals, you’ll need to work with a professional to get them fixed. This type of job requires experience to ensure that it’s done correctly. If done incorrectly, you could create more damage and experience structural issues down the road.

8. Excess Moisture

Over time, when the weather fluctuates, moisture will build up in your attic. This can be because of the stark differences between the temperatures and atmosphere condition inside your house and outside or problems with ventilation. When they contradict each other in the hot summer or an especially cold winter, condensation forms. Over time, if this isn’t addressed, the condensation will lead to mold, mildew, and leaks that originate from your attic. You may notice a foul odor coming from your attic or you might actually be able to see the leak—either way, it’s important to address quickly to avoid damages.

9. The Age of Your Roof

Finally, a major cause of roof leaks is simply due to the age of your roof. Over time, your roof will wear down. All of the proper care, maintenance, and repairs in the world won’t stop this. Roofs aren’t made to last forever, so if you continually have problems with yours, it might be time to consider getting a roof replacement. Talk to your professional roofing company to learn more about your options in terms of roof replacement.

When to Call the Professionals

Whenever you feel like you might be experiencing some sort of roof leak, take the time to thoroughly inspect your roof and attic then call a professional like Advocate Roofing for a second opinion. The professionals at Advocate are trained to spot even the smallest sign of a roof leak so we can get the problem fixed before it gets out of hand. All of our roofing professionals have the experience and expertise you want when getting a detailed roof inspection and any subsequent repairs. If we find any damages, we’ll be sure to provide an affordable estimate on the spot so that you don’t suffer through the annoyances, and costs, of a prolonged roof leak.

Advocate’s experienced Milwaukee roofing contractors are here to make sure your roofing jobs are done efficiently with no hidden costs. We pride ourselves on working with integrity and longevity in mind. To contact an experienced roofing contractor from Advocate Roofing, give us a call today at (414) 386-3900. You can also reach out to our customer service hotline, 888-777-ROOF (7663).