Roof Problems and What to Do About Them
Your roof covers the largest asset you own, so it pays to know the signs of trouble. Fortunately, many of the danger signals are easy to see-you can sometimes even spot them from the ground. (Tip: Binoculars help!) A small leak can go undetected for years, causing huge damage before you notice anything. It’s a good idea to inspect your roof regularly. Many contractors offer free inspections. But even if you have to pay, it’s better than finding leaks after the damage is done. Here are a few of the most common and easy to recognize signs of roof problems.
How to Find Roof Leaks
When you’re trying to track down a leak, start by looking at the roof uphill from the stains. (Plus: here’s how to clean roof stains.) The first thing to look for is any roof penetrations. Items that penetrate the roof are by far the most common source of leaks. In fact, it’s rare for leaks to develop in open areas of uninterrupted shingles, even on older roofs. Penetrations can include plumbing and roof vents, chimneys, dormers or anything else that projects through the roof. They can be several feet above the leak or to the right or left of it.
If you have attic access, the easiest way to track down a leak is to go up there with a flashlight and look for the evidence. There will be water stains, black marks or mold. But if access is a problem or you have a vaulted ceiling, you’ll have to go up onto the roof and examine the suspect(s).
Solution for a Small Leak
Some roof leaks are tough to locate. Sometimes the water shows up at a ceiling spot distant from the leak. If your ceiling has a plastic vapor barrier between the drywall and the attic insulation, push the insulation aside and look for flow stains on the plastic. Often water runs to openings in the vapor barrier, such as at ceiling light fixtures.
If you can’t see any telltale flow marks, and since the stain is fairly small, look at the underside of the roof for ‘shiners.’ A shiner is a nail that missed the framing member, in this case when the carpenter nailed the roof sheathing to the rafters. Moisture that escapes into the cold attic from the rooms below often condenses on cold nails. Sometimes you can spot this if you climb up into your attic on a cold night. The nails will look white because they’re frosted. When the attic heats up a bit during the day, the frost melts and drips, then the nails frost up at night again and so on. The solution is to simply clip the nail with a side-cutting pliers.
How to Fix Roof Vents
Check for cracked housings on plastic roof vents and broken seams on metal ones. You might be tempted to throw caulk at the problem, but that solution won’t last long. There’s really no fix other than replacing the damaged vents. Also look for pulled or missing nails at the base’s bottom edge. Replace them with rubber-washered screws. In most cases, you can remove nails under the shingles on both sides of the vent to pull it free. There will be nails across the top of the vent too. Usually you can also work those loose without removing shingles. Screw the bottom in place with rubber-washered screws. Squeeze out a bead of caulk beneath the shingles on both sides of the vent to hold the shingles down and to add a water barrier. That’s much easier than renailing the shingles.
Metal flashing prevents leaks where shingles meet other surfaces, like walls and chimneys. Proper flashing work takes time and know-how, so sloppy roofers sometimes slather on roof cement instead. It seals out water long enough for them to cash your check, but it soon hardens, cracks and leaks. In the end, all it does is make a proper repair more difficult. So if you see heavy ‘tar’ patchwork on your roof, fix it right—before it leaks and leads to interior damage.
Your Flashing Has Cracked
What Does It Look Like: Flashing are thin pieces of metal that are installed under shingles and on the joints of your roof in order to create a water-resistant barrier, which can be concealed or exposed. If exposed, they will look like long runs of sheet metal and, if concealed, they will have a rubberized coating overtop. Broken flashing will feature large cracks
Why It Happens: Roofers often use tar to seal the flashing together and that can corrode over time. In the event that your flashing is left exposed, elements like wind and rain could be the reason behind its crack.
How To Fix It: (Via The Family Handyman): Once you locate the source of the leak, pry up the nails used to secure the old flashing. Lift any shingles out of the way and remove the cracked segment. Gently put a new run of flashing in its place, fasten the new flashing in the same pattern as your old piece using roofing nails. Then, apply a coat of roofing sealant to the nail heads.
You Have Broken Shingles
What Does It Look Like: Look up! This one is easy to spot. Since shingles are the exterior layer of a roof, you should be able to identify missing shingles by seeing different-colored patches on your roof. Alternatively, you may find the shingles themselves littering your yard after a heavy storm.
Why It Happens: Again, weather. High winds and heavy rains.
How To Fix It: Slide a pry bar underneath the row of nails that connects the damage shingle to the one below it. Lift up until the nail pops and then press down on the shingle while you remove the nail. Repeat for the remaining nails. Pull out the damaged shingle, replace it with a new one, and secure it with four new nails.
Types of Weather Related Roof Damage for Commercial Buildings
As the seasonal weather begins to heat up and cause more storms and severe weather, commercial roofs will start to show signs of damage and wear. More times than not, we find commercial building owners are surprised to find out they have had many underlying issues caused by weather and storm damage that could have been prevented. Here are a few of the types of commercial roof damage that can be caused by weather, and ways you can keep an eye out.
Look for Moldy Smells or Musty Odors that won’t go away.
This can be a huge indicator that you have a leak and water has settled in a hidden area of your building. It may even be impossible for you to inspect the area between walls. Any moldy or musty smells that show up after a storm and don’t go away easily are a cause for concern. We suggest giving us a call right away so we can fix the damage before it spreads and gets worse.
Moldy smells are just one symptom of a hidden leak, and if untreated, the problem can cause huge issues, including structural damage. The sooner this type of roof damage is fixed, the less impact it will have on your wallet.
Standing water on your flat roof should that is visible after 2 days is a red flag.
If the rain water is left standing after 2 days, it will begin to cause damage to your commercial flat roof and eventually lead to leaks and more internal damage. Even if you do not notice any leaking or unusual smells, if the water stands on your roof, it will deteriorate your roof at a much faster rate and lower your roof’s life expectancy.
Commercial roof flashing located around the edge of your roof seals out all runoff and temporary standing water.
If your flashing or edge of your roof is damaged, peeled back, or loose, then rain water will find it’s way under your roof and into your building. If you have debris or tree branches fall along side your building, it is a good idea to check the flashing and edges of your roof after a storm to ensure there are no damaged areas.
Once water has gotten under your roof and into your building, it can still be difficult to detect.
We suggest looking for moist walls, water stains along the ceiling, and unusual wet floor areas that cannot be attibuted to plumbing. It is difficult to trace exactly where the stains have come from without a professional consultation. If left unattended though, internal water damage will cause massive issues for your commercial building down the road.
Roof and Carpentry Repairs
Roof and Carpentry Repairs in Orange County with Tom Byer Roofing ServiceIf you want to make your roof last as long as possible, it is vital that you never put off a roof repair. Small issues with roofing become big issues in a hurry. No matter how major or minor the repair you need is, we are here to help. Some common problems we help repair include the following:
- Clogged Gutters: You might not think of these as a roofing problem, but clogged gutters can cause damage to your roofing due to stagnant water and even the strain from the weight of the clogged gutters.
- Deteriorating Shingles: Your home’s shingles are essentially its first line of defense against the forces of nature. Any problem with the shingles can lead to problems with the rest of the roof, including the carpentry.
- Wood Rot: Any rot within the wooden structures of your roof is major cause for concern. Rot can compromise the integrity of wooden structures, risking the collapse of your roof. Additionally, rot in the roof can spread into the rest of your home if left untreated.
- Mold and Mildew: These two spread fast, and unless you catch them early, they can require the replacement of the entire roof frame. As soon as you notice mold or mildew,
Warning Signs of a Hole in the Roof
Check your attic for one or more of the following warning signs of a hole in the roof:
- While water dripping from the attic ceiling is an obvious indication of a hole in the roof, it’s often not so easy to pinpoint the hole’s location. It could be several feet away from the drip.
- Damp areas on your ceiling or walls. In your attic or upstairs, surfaces may actually be moist to the touch, or simply appear discolored. Unusual wall or ceiling bulges and peeling paint are also clues that you might have leakage from a hole in your roof.
- Visible daylight. Inspect your attic on a sunny day. If you can spy one or more patches of daylight through the ceiling, unless your home is equipped with skylights, you’ve got a hole in your roof.
- Missing or cracked shingles. If you can safely perform a roof inspection, check your shingles. Missing or cracked roofing shingles may mean a hole in the roof.
Repair a Hole in Your Roof
You may be able to make a minor DIY roof repair IF (and only if):
- the hole in your roof is small and accessible
- your roof is basically sound and within its expected lifetime (20 years for an asphalt shingle roof)
- you have solid knowledge of home improvement and roof safety – plus a proper roofing ladder, good non-skid shoes, and a buddy to assist you.