9 Common Causes of Roofing Leaks

This year, protect the most fundamental part of your home.

Beyond being a messy inconvenience, a leaky roof can lead to further issues that need to be addressed immediately. When a roof leak is not addressed in a timely manner, it can result in mold growth and deck and underlayment deterioration. These can add up to costly roof repairs, or eventually, a fully compromised roof in need of a total replacement.

Depending on the source of the leak, your roof may require anywhere from a quick fix to a major remodel. If your roof is leaking, no matter how minor the drip seems, it is indicative of a roofing issue that needs to be addressed. While your may seem “okay for now,” leaks can be caused by a variety of reasons, and it is always best to have a roofing contractor come out and diagnose the issue sooner rather than later. We’ve comprised a list of the most common causes for roofing leaks.

1. Broken Shingles or Tiles

What to look for: This is one of the more easily identifiable causes, as shingles (or tiles) are located on the outer layer of your roof. You may also be able to spot some in your yard after inclement weather. Shingles that seem to still be in place, but have lifted or curled, can still be the culprit. Shingles commonly go missing after storms and high wind speeds. On newer roofs, it could be related to the improper fastening of shingles. On older roofing, repeated weather events have broken the seal. Nevertheless, missing shingles means that area of your roof is no longer being protected as it should.

How to fix it: Navigating a compromised roof is dangerous for the untrained professional. More so, leaks do not often present in the same place where the roof is actually compromised. Repairing your missing shingles or tiles should be carried out by a licensed roofing company such as Roof Commander. Correcting broken shingles or tiles the right way the first time will help alleviate issues in the future.

2. Clogged Gutters

What to look for: Clogged gutters are another one of the most common issues, while also being pretty visible. Depending on the severity of the clog, you may be able to spot leaves, twigs and other debris protruding from your gutters. You may also notice the absence of water flowing through your downspout during a rainstorm. The water not being able to flow through the gutter is what can cause issues for your roof. If water starts backing up, it can seep into the eaves, and eventually lead to rot. Rotting wood can jeopardize your roof’s entire structure and lead to it failing.

How to fix it: Clogged gutters are a common cause of roof leaks, and require a ladder and the willingness to get your hands dirty in order to remove the clog. We recommend placing a large tarp under the gutters as you clear them for easy clean-up. Once you’ve ensured your gutters are free from debris, having gutter screens installed is an excellent way to maintain healthy gutters in the future.

3. Improperly Installed Skylights

What to look for: While skylights can provide your home with wonderful natural light, if not installed correctly, they can be the source of a potential leak. If you have to grab drip buckets and drag them under your home’s skylight every time there’s a storm, you’ve found the culprit. Likewise, if water stains are appearing on your ceiling near your skylight, it’s likely to be the source.

How to fix it: If you feel comfortable enough to navigate your roof, examine the exterior of your skylight. If not, you can check for possible cracks in the window from underneath the skylight (inside your home). If the problem requires reinstallation or a flashing fix, contact a professional.

4. Poorly Sealed Valleys

What to look for: This cause a little more difficult to locate- especially without roofing experience. In short, the valley of your roof is where two planes of the roof join. When a roof is initially installed, it is sealed to prevent leaking. However, the sealing can erode over time, causing leaks as rain trickles down the roof. It’s important to remember that water does “travel” and can present in your home in a place different from the actual cause of the leak.

How to fix it: This issue is beyond your scope as a homeowner. The complexity of this issue requires a professional roofer to install a new leak barrier. More so, if the problem is fairly widespread, and the roof has significant age to it, it may be time to consider selecting a roofing company for a roof replacement.

5. Holes

What to look for: Have you recently had a TV antenna or other rooftop installation removed? Did your area recently have a severe weather event that caused a branch to puncture your roof or break a tile? There is a high probability you’ve been left with a hole in your roof. This will, in turn, leave your roof vulnerable to leaks.

How to fix it: The severity of the hole will be a huge factor in how the issue should be addressed. Scheduling an estimate with a professional roofing contractor to inspect the roof. While the issue at hand may be a hole, it could have caused issues not easily spotted by the untrained eye. A roof repair technician, will know if the best course of action would be to simply seal the hole or address something more serious.

6. Cracked Chimney

What to look for: In a way, a chimney creates its own type of valley. It creates joints that need to be sealed to prevent water from leaking in. If your chimney is showing signs of deterioration along the mortared joints, or the flashing where the chimney and roof connect, there is certainly the potential for leaks to occur.

How to fix it: You will need a professional to repair your cracked chimney. A chimney’s anatomy is complicated, and you want an industry professional with the training and materials to remedy the chimney’s vulnerable areas.

7. Condensation Build-up in Your Attic

What to look for: Examine your attic for signs of mold and mildew. These will typically be small, out of place spots ranging in color from brown, green, orange or white. Black mold is highly toxic and spreads quickly, generally creating a circular pattern. Mold grows solely on materials it can feed off of like mold and newspapers. You will probably also smell a musty odor.

How to fix it: You will want a professional to come in and handle any situations involving black mold, as it is extremely toxic. After the mold is treated, consider installing an attic ventilation fan to help increase air circulation and warn off excess moisture.

8. Cracks in Flashing

What to Look for: Flashing are thin pieces of metal located under the shingles to create a waterproof barrier. Flashing can crack if they become exposed when shingles break, or flashing can slide out of place due to missing nails. More so, depending on how long ago your roof was installed, the cause of damaged flashing could simply be age.

How to fix it: As flashing is found under your shingles or tile, attempting a DIY repair could lead to more significant damage to your roof as a whole. More so, removing major parts of your roof system, could void its warranty. While homeowners have been known to attempt to repair flashing themselves, it is really not suggested.

9. Damaged Vent Booting

What to look for: A vent boot covers the plastic vent pipe that protrudes from your roof, meant to ward off water and excess moisture from entering your interior. Cracks in vent booting feature a series of dark spots and a corresponding musty odor.

How to fix it: Similar to flashing, repairing a damaged boot often requires removing other parts of your roof system such as connecting shingles. It also requires nailing and sealing that can easily be done improperly. Attempting such a pair is really not advised. 

What to Remember

Due to the complexity of certain roofing issues, a high level of expertise is required to address concerns you may have regarding your roof. Roofing material can be fragile and you may walk over a compromised area. More so, trying to repair the roof yourself can jeopardize your roof’s warranty. A professional is trained in roof anatomy, knows how to properly navigate around vulnerable areas, and understands the importance of maintaining a valid warranty.

If for some reason you choose to fix the roof leak yourself, keep in mind that working on a rooftop can be difficult and dangerous. A simple fix may take a few hours, but will only last a short time if not done correctly. Additionally, while you may save some money initially, your “quick fix” will often become far more costly in the future.

If you do not have the experience, proper tools, and knowledge to safely and accurately complete the job, you should reach out to a licensed professional. Licensed professionals are well-versed in properly diagnosing all types of roof issues, and have the equipment and experience to safely repair a leaky roof. Your roof is a fundamental part of your home, and you want to protect both your investment and your family.

Roof Commander is happy to help. If you have any questions about your shingle or tile roof, do not hesitate to contact us at 352-459-7599. Roof Commander is the premier full-service, roofing company serving areas such as Orlando, Tavares, Winter Garden, Windermere, Lake Mary, Deltona and areas throughout Central Florida.