12 Common Roof Problems

roof damage

Is Your Roof Protected?

Ever wonder if your home is safe? Surprisingly, your roof has much more to do with your house’s protection than you might think.

Even though your roof is out of sight and out of mind, it is important to remember that it protects your most precious belongings: your family. In addition to your family’s health, roof maintenance is extremely important because the roof is the most costly part of a house to get replaced. In fact, lack of maintenance can cause your roof to wear out 30% faster than its life expectancy, needing it to be replaced several years sooner. Shockingly, home inspectors have even reported that over 90% of houses inspected have roof deficiencies. We urge you to use this list of the 12 most common roof problems to see if your roof is protected from normal wear-and-tear, perils of nature, or third-party damage.

1. Previous repairs that were not performed correctly

A temporary fix used as a permanent fix is the most common improper repair. For example, roof mastic, roof cement, or tar is usually used to permanently repair roofing material; however, they will crack within a year. Another common example is when caulking is used to seal broken roofing material, instead of replacing the broken roofing material. Contractors will also mismatch roofing materials when repairing a roof (say, repairing a Dimensional Composition roof with 3-Tab Composition roofing materials).  All of these examples are issues because they do not meet any manufacturer’s specifications to make your roof last to its life expectancy. In this case, the previous contractor aligned all of the cut-outs, significantly increasing the likelihood of wear and tear that will probably cause deterioration and water damage.

2. Deteriorated flashings

Flashings are normally made out of galvanized or copper metal and are designed to carry water away from the roofing materials mostly near penetrations and valleys. This is done in the installation process by putting the top edge of the flashing underneath the underlayment that is directly above it and then passing the bottom edge of the flashing on top of the roofing material that is directly below it. However, if the flashing then deteriorates, then the seams, nails, and joints underneath it are exposed to nature’s elements, causing an area of great leaking.

3. Cracked, missing, or deteriorated sealant around roof penetrations and flashings

Sealant generally is a silicon-based caulking that keeps water from getting in. It is used when flashings are not tight enough, when there is a joint between flashings, or when flashings are fastened with nails. If the sealant is cracked or deteriorated, then the penetration or flashing is especially susceptible to water getting in and causing a leak. Making sure that your roofer has used the highest quality sealant is imperative; ensuring that this sealant remains strong every year is a must. Hence it’s essential to have a professional roof inspector conduct an annual roof inspection

4. Third party damage

Third-party damage can be caused by a variety of things. Typically, occurrences are from painters standing on the roof while trying to paint a wall on the second floor, kids climbing on the roof to play, basketballs bouncing off the roof, antenna installations, air conditioner installations, solar panels installations, satellite dish installations, or tenting houses. Because there are so many opportunities for third-party damage to happen, it occurs quite frequently. The problem with third party damage is that it can cause many of these other common roof problems, leading to a high likelihood of leakage. It’s always a great idea to have your roof thoroughly examined and inspected before and after a third-party installation.

5. Exposed or misplaced nails

Nails that are exposed or even misplaced have a high likelihood of letting water in, causing leaks. For each different kind of roofing material, the manufacturers have specifications about nail placement in order to decrease the potential of causing a leak. However, if nails are improperly placed or if the sealant that is covering the nail cracks, then your roof is highly susceptible to leaking. If you see a particular area on your roof where there is an abundance of nails, this could mean that the roofer or repairer improperly installed that section. Hence it’s essential to have a professional roof inspector conduct an annual roof inspection.

6. Overexposure of roofing material

Overexposure is problematic because it exposes the areas of nail placement, specifically each individual nail. It also provides less protection because of the fewer layers of roofing material covering any given area. If there is a high wind storm, water could easily be pushed underneath the roofing material because of the fewer layers. Water will then travel underneath the roofing material until it finds a nail or joint to leak through. Treating over-exposure requires specific skills and expertise that only a licensed roof inspector possesses.

7. Debris that blocks water-flow

Debris, especially in the valley of the roof, builds up water like a dam. When this happens, water travels sideways and goes underneath the roofing material, creating a high likelihood of leaking. When was the last time you checked for debris on your roof? Even if you discovered the debris, were you able to walk to that spot without breaking other tiles and remove it? For most homeowners, spotting and removing debris is neither easy nor quick. Hence, a professional roof inspector is required to visually inspect the roof annually.

8. Cracked or broken ridge caps

Ridge caps are designed to keep water from getting underneath roofing material at the ridge. However, if the ridge cap is cracked or broken, then water will get in and travel down the roofing material until it stops at nails or joints. Once this happens, a leak is sure to be on its way. Most homeowners would very easily miss a cracked ridge cap. Hence it’s essential to have a professional roof inspector conduct an annual roof inspection.

9. Improper caps on vents

Different vents require certain types of caps. For example, there are many caps designed to let smoke out while not allowing water to come in and travel down the vent. However, if you have the wrong cap on, then water could drip through the loose joint of the cap and vent. Whenever water comes inside the vent and flows down to the furnace, for example, it could cause significant damage to the furnace. This also applies to water heaters, dryers, etc.

10. Improper skylight installation or cracked glass

The most common improper installations of skylights are improper flashings or none at all. Flashings need regular maintenance checks since they are particularly vulnerable to breakdown from harsh weather conditions. If you refer back to #2, you can understand why this is a problem. If skylights have cracked glass, then at the next rainfall, it is almost guaranteed to leak.

11. Cracked, broken, or slipped roofing material

If any roofing material is cracked, broken, or slipped, then it exposes the felt underlayment that’s beneath the roofing material. Roofing material cracks due to wear and tear from years of harsh weather conditions, heavy rains, very hot sun, damaging winds, broken tree branches, pine tree cones, flying debris, and improper use of the roof. Continue to read #12 to find out why this is an important red flag.

12. Exposed or deteriorated felt underlayment

For every day that the felt underlayment is exposed due to cracked, broken, or slipped roofing material, ultraviolet rays reach it, causing the oils of the felt underlayment to dry out. When that happens, the felt cracks, and when it cracks, water easily finds its way in through the roof. The felt underlayment is the only waterproof material on your roof that blocks the water from coming in. However, when it is cracked, there is nothing stopping water from getting in, and lots of it.

If you suspect your roof has any one of these red flags, then your roof is not protected from leaks. There are easy, quick, and cheap remedies for each and every one of these red flags. With so much climate change and harsh weather conditions, it’s essential to have a professional roof inspector conduct an annual roof inspection.

Be sure to call Cert-A-Roof immediately so that you can have peace of mind and protection!

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