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Roof Leak Damage

What You Can Do When Your Roof is Leaking

When you notice a leak in the roof, address the issue immediately to prevent severe damage to your home.

Key takeaways

  • Age, the elements, and physical damage can all cause your roof to leak
  • Some problems require a repair and others a replacement
  • The sooner you catch and fix these issues, the less likely you are to need a whole new roof
  • An experienced contractor can assist in your time of need

Having a leaky roof is a disaster for many homeowners because, as water seeps into the house, it can do a great deal of damage. This water can soak into the ceiling, get behind walls, ruin your insulation, and even damage your floors and appliances if you don’t deal with the cause of the problem immediately. 

The good news is there are some precautions you can take to prevent your home’s roof from leaking and some steps to take after you notice a leak to minimize damage, too. 

Here’s what you should know about leaking residential roofs and what you can do to minimize the damage to your home.

Signs your roof is leaking

There are a few signs of a potential roof leak you should keep an eye out for so you can address the issue before it does severe damage. 

Some of the most obvious things to watch for are water spots on your walls and ceiling. These spots tend to turn brown and stain after a while, and you might also see moisture coming through your ceiling. Water spots generally mean the leak is significant because it has to work through the attic and insulation before it gets to that point. 

Water spots can also appear in your attic when the leak is in its early stages. These spots signal a small leak that’s allowing water into the attic but isn’t yet severe enough for the moisture to make it into your living area. Of course, we rarely go into our attics, so identifying these issues early could take a stroke of luck. 

Other signs that you have a roof leak include damage on the outside of your home. You won’t know if that falling tree branch caused a leak until it rains, so it’s a good idea to have a professional contractor inspect any damage before the next rainfall. 

Remember, the sooner you address your leaking roof, the more likely you are to avoid severe damage to the property. 

Leaky roof causes

Roofs leak for a variety of reasons. There isn’t necessarily a single event that led to your roof leaking, problems can develop over years. 

One of the most common underlying causes of these leaks is an old roof. Every year, your shingles deal with exposure to sunlight, snow, rain, and significant temperature changes. These environmental factors cause the shingles to turn brittle and crack. 

When your roof starts approaching the end of its life expectancy, you must begin planning for its replacement because trying to put that off could leave you with water damage inside your house. Poor weather, inadequate installation, or shingle failure can lead to a premature roofing problems

Even new roofs can leak, especially because the shingles are rarely the only thing up there. For example, if you have a brick chimney, you could run into problems with the crown cracking, the brick-and-mortar joints eroding, or the flashing letting water behind it. 

Then there are simple construction elements that can wear out or cause problems around your roof over time. Any roof is a complex system of weatherproofing and temperature regulation. In that system, many failure points can lead to leaks. Here are just a few ways moisture could get through the outer layer and into that system:

  • Flashing around vents and skylights
  • Flashing along the roof’s valleys
  • The rubber “boot” around ventilation fixtures
  • Rubber seals around skylight glass
  • Flashing along the peaks and valleys of complex roof designs (these can also collect ice, which leads to damage)
  • Clogged gutters that prevent water from draining off your roof efficiently 
  • Untrimmed roofing nails that freeze and melt, dripping condensation into the roof system over time
  • Missing shingles that let water into the roof instead of sloughing it off as intended

Most of these parts are made to prevent leaks, but over time and with exposure to the elements, they can decay or crack, letting water into the system. 

Spotting these moisture weak spots is not easy without thorough, regular roof inspections. The best way to prevent moisture damage is to have licensed professionals search for leaks twice a year.

Repairing the problem

When you find roof damage or any time, it’s time to bring in a professional to repair the system. Homeowners may be able to temporarily stop leaks with tarps or flashing paste, but the underlying causes, such as rotting fixtures or decaying shingles, will need to be addressed by professionals. 

That might seem like an extreme step, but each of the issues mentioned above can lead to problems that simple repairs won’t fix. The costs of regular roof inspections and repairs are far less than the cost of a whole new roof. A penny of prevention will save many dollars of cure down the road. 

When you notice missing shingles, having a contractor install new ones is often the way to go. However, you should know that there are sometimes issues matching colors because sunlight will cause your existing shingles to fade. There are also subtle differences between the many shingle colors, but your contractor will try to match them as best as possible.

If you’re dealing with a hole in your roof, an experienced contractor will be able to design and install the best solution for the damage. Resist any temptation to fix it yourself: There are many layers of protection in your roof, and an amateur job of repairing them could create leaks that lead to long-term issues. 

Damaged chimneys or worn-out flashing will require repair or replacement, too. For flashing, your contractor might try resealing it unless the metal is brittle or rusting after years of exposure to the elements. 

Preventing future issues

In addition to having a contractor repair your leaking roof, there are some preventative measures you can take to minimize the risk to your home. 

For starters, have a contractor inspect your flashing and reseal it if necessary. In some cases, you might need to replace the flashing around your chimney, in your roof’s valleys, and near your vents. Luckily, your contractor can handle this job without having to go ahead with an entire roof replacement. 

If you’ve ever seen the ruins of an old house before, you know that the fireplace and chimney are often the last things standing. These fixtures seem indestructible, but the truth is that minor damage to the joints or crown can let water into your home. The brick is incredibly resilient, but the mortar can run into problems.

The good news is that you can patch your chimney and waterproof the brick-and-mortar joints to keep water out. This job is relatively quick and inexpensive, but it can save you thousands of dollars in damage if you catch it early. 

It’s also possible to prevent shiners from becoming a significant issue in your home. For a short-term fix, you can cut the protruding nails using side-splitting pliers. Doing this prevents moisture from frost from dripping into your attic and doing serious damage. 

However, you should also know that poor attic insulation and ventilation also contribute to shiners’ formation. Updating these features in your home will cost you upfront, but it will also create a more energy-efficient home and protect your roof from some long-term damage.

How Blue Nail Roofing can help

No matter the roofing problem you’re experiencing, having the support of an experienced contractor who can identify the cause of the issue and repair it is essential. In New Jersey, that means choosing a professional team who is aware of the unique challenges our weather causes for residential roofs. 

We leverage our detailed craftsmanship to solve roofing and siding issues with transparency and education. After a free consultation with us, our clients are fully prepared to make the best decision to protect their home for the next 30+ years. We have achieved rare certifications to guarantee the highest level of workmanship and offer the best warranties in the industry. We strive to make the entire process easy, from the first call to the final inspection.

Blue Nail Roofing is a local New Jersey company that specializes in roof repairs and installations in the Morris County area. Our team can fix damage to your roof or replace your shingles when the time comes. We can also upgrade your ventilation to prevent moisture build-up. Contact us to learn more or to set up a complimentary consultation.

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