Roof leaks. Oh, if there’s one thing homeowners dread almost as much as the many bills home ownership incurs, it has to be these particular menaces. There’s nothing quite as dismaying as a storm blowing in, and just when you think you’re safe from the ravages of nature, warm and dry and cozy in your home, when what should happen but it starts raining inside too. Oh no!
While this poses immediate problems – your home getting wet, ceiling damage, ruination of your carpet or possessions, the real threat is far more devious and far-reaching. See, the thing is, a roof leak isn’t the problem, but a symptom of bigger problems, such as missing shingles, decayed flashing, problems with vents or sky lights, holes in your roof decking, any number of things.
These can seem like major undertakings to repair, and costly ones at that. In all honesty, they can be, and this can lead you to want to just try to patch the leaks where they appear, and just move on until you come into greener financial pastures.
The reality of it is, you’re never going to actually reach those greener pastures you hope for, due to how your standards will always shift by your current context, and the expenses will just escalate exponentially the longer you leave these unattended.
Today, as your stalwart roofing experts, we’d like to take some time to explain where these problems originate in a little more detail, and reveal to you how severely dangerous it is for these problems to be left unattended in a misguided effort to gain financial a financial foothold. We ask that, if you take nothing else we ever tell you straight to heart, that you absolutely do in this case – these problems can cost you your home, all of your possessions, and worst of all, the lives of yourself and those you love. This is serious business.
Causes of Leaks
We glossed over these a moment ago, simply to make a point with which to lead. However, it’s important to understand these causes in more detail, so that they can be addressed and, best of all, prevented through frequent inspections and maintenance.
- Flashing, Vents and Skylights – These are actually one of the leading problems that can lead to leaks. Flashing is basically a strip seal that goes along the edges of roofs, and where other seams appear in the roof such as other levels, vents, chimneys and skylights. This material, if applied right, should endure for a prolonged period of time, but it’s not indestructible. Thermal expansion (caused by fluctuating weather), UV damage, wind, ice and simple age do break flashing down over time, and it will crumble, peel away or warp. This leaves gaps in your roof which shingles aren’t equipped to combat, allowing water to pool on the decking, run down walls and into ceilings, you name it.
- Peeled, Cracked and Missing Shingles – This is the other big problem. Shingles aren’t immortal, with most lasting around two and a half decades (though some with longer or shorter lifespans do exist). They’re designed to individually break and come away, as it allows for a cost-effective approach to maintenance and repair. Unfortunately, these missing or damaged shingles need to be addressed quickly once this happens, as once they’re no longer flush and properly-textured, their ability to prevent the intrusion of water is nonexistent, and it will in turn pool in places.
- Poorly-Installed Vents and Skylights – Flashing itself doesn’t have to go bad for these surface disruptive structures to cause leaks. If they’re not flush to their apertures, then the seals (caulk, rubber strips and flashing) aren’t really going to provide a solid barrier on their own. This allows leaks of air and water alike, and the leak may not appear where the skylight or vent is, as water likes to spread out where gravity will take it.
- Ice Dams and Rain Gutters – On top of your shingles and the pitch of your roof being measures to combat water, your gutters are also crucial in safely taking it somewhere else. If they are blocked or damaged, water will back up. Similarly, ice dams forming in winter will prevent water from escaping via gutters, and pool.
Mold and Mildew
The most immediate problems of water and leakage are mold and mildew. These will eat away at your structure, especially drywall and plaster, and produce foul odors and unsanitary conditions. Some of these molds can actually kill the elderly and infirm, and severely impact the health of average-aged healthy adults.
Black mold is a primary example of truly toxic mold, and it’s also, unfortunately, one of the most common of the molds that tends to cultivate in leaking structures. This is no joke, this stuff can literally kill you.
Your home’s structure will be compromised by this water. It ruins the stability of wood, causing it to warp and sag. The weight of water will further exacerbate this, and your roof decking will begin to cave in over time.
With gravity doing its thing, this will just get worse and worse, even when water is no longer present, until the point when the building will collapse in on itself either in part or entirely. This would, of course, likely kill anyone or anything alive inside at the time.
This may sound counterintuitive, given wet, sodden materials tend not to combust very readily, but believe it or not, thanks to the modern marvel of electricity, a water-damaged house can become a tinderbox in the right conditions. Electrical wiring will spark or short, producing potential for fires, and once rotted materials have had the slightest chance to dry, they’re very flammable, allowing fires to spread rapidly.
With the structural compromises already present, and the fumes from molds there, these fires can be almost instantly fatal, and very hard for the fire department to control!
Benefits of Getting It Fixed
Obviously, having a skilled roofer fix these problems as soon as possible will abate these dangers before they get out of hand. On top of this, insurance companies, realtors and even code compliance demand this, lest the home be condemned, cited or drastically plummet in resale value.
Ultimately, it saves money, it saves time and it saves lives, end of story. To learn more about proper roof care and regular maintenance that can help control these problems before they really get out of hand, fill out our contact form today.