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Uncover the Most Common Cause of Roof Leaks – Roofing – San Diego, CA

Source of Roof Leaks

Even the highest quality roofs can deteriorate over time.  After a roof has reached or exceeded its expected lifetime, there can be some degradation of the roof materials – though the roof shingles themselves are rarely the source of your roof leak.   We have come out for many emergency leak repairs and have found, more often than not, that the roof leak is not coming from the roof itself but from other sources on the roof.

Here are some of the most common sources of residential roof leaks.

Leaks at Joints:  Joints between the roof and the chimney, or around other penetrations made in your roof to accommodate skylights, vents, exhaust flues for appliances, attic vents or other protrusions are very common areas for deterioration.  Worn or cracked rubber around boots, or metal flashings around these joints are among the most common sources of roof leaks. The joints between two sloped sections of a roof are also highly susceptible to deterioration and leaking.

Leaks Along Flashing: Flashing is the thin metal sheet or fitting that covers a seam or transition on the roof.  These are used wherever something sticks up through the roofline, such as, the chimney, vent stacks, etc. Flashing is also present at dormers, where two different roof planes meet, and where a roof meets a wall.  Over time, these can become corroded or weak and rain can begin to seep under the shingles. If caught early enough, a small gap can be resealed. Left untended, it could become a major leak requiring repair all the way down to the rafters.

Leaking Skylights: Not only can the joints and flashings at the skylight become a source for leaks, the seals on the skylight itself may degrade and begin to leak.

Water Accumulation at Your Chimney: A chimney is not only a huge hole in your roof, it also collects water on its surface which can trickle down to find even the smallest breach. Also, if your chimney is near the peak of the roof, your chimney should have a triangle metal tent on the high side where the chimney meets the roof to prevent pooling at the base of the chimney.

Soffit & Fascia Damage:  The “soffit” is the wood or metal panel on the underside of the roof’s overhang. The “fascia” is the board that runs behind the gutter, or along the roofline, which boxes in the overhang. Both of these are at risk of water damage over time.

If the roof drip edge, which directs water into the gutters, is missing or damaged, water will typically rot the fascia board before eventually traveling to the soffit, where it will continue on its destructive path.

Holes in the fascia usually start as soft spots caused  
by water damage. Without repair, the rot and mold will grow. Often small animals, such as squirrels, birds and rats will make these holes their new homes to make a bad problem worse.

If you do your own gutter cleaning, take advantage of your time up on the ladder to inspect the fascia boards and soffit for signs of damage. Simply take a screwdriver to probe damp spots to see if the wood seems soft. Any soft or rotted wood should be replaced. Don’t ignore the problem. It will just get worse.

Debris Accumulation on Your Roof and Gutters:   Leaves and other debris that have accumulated on your roof and in your gutters will slow water flow down the roof, cause water to flow sideways on a roof and will hold moisture which will cause mold, mildew and moss. Anything that holds moisture on your roof will reduce the lifespan of your roof.  It is important to remove leaves and other debris on your roof  before it accumulates.  Regular maintenance can increase the life of your roof by as much as 30%!

Broken, cupped, cracked or missing shingles:  Ok, your leak could be due to the shingles but it is rarely the shingle itself that is the problem – though given enough time, even the highest quality shingles will wear out.  More often than not, water seeps through the roof and into your home if your roof shingles have been cracked or broken due to something that has fallen on your roof or from someone who has walked on the roof. High winds or storms can also blow off shingles.  Nails driven through shingles and left unsealed (with roofing cement) also tend to leak – because nails make holes.

If the shingles are past their warranty period, they may start to deteriorate. This usually occurs on the southern facing side of the roof first, because they get the most exposure to the sun.  With tile and slate roofs, broken and missing shingles and failed repairs will hurt your roof and your bank account.  If your roof is metal, look out for corrosion. This can happen where dissimilar metals are in contact, such as with an aluminum vent cap on a steel roof.

Don’t ignore your roof until you have a leak:  If your roof is leaking, you may have significant damage and costs for repairs go up.  Contact a professional roofing company before you have a problem to physically inspect your roof and give you a written estimate for any repair or replacement necessary.

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Tags: Roof Leaks