The Most Common Roof Problems Homeowners Encounter
Ideally, homeowners should always address any problem with any part of their house right away.
In reality, though, most of us tend to ignore such issues, especially when they're relatively minor. Many homeowners typically wait until the problem becomes worse before addressing it.
However, any form of roof damage must be dealt with immediately, even when they seem minor. The roof is your primary protection from the harshest elements, after all.
It's true that roof repairs done by licensed roofing contractors with the right roofing insurance coverage can be costly and time-consuming. However, catching minor problems before becoming major ones can spare you from the even higher cost and hassle of replacing your roof entirely.
To take care of your roof better, you need to know some of the most common roof problems you will likely have to deal with at some point.
Blocked Rain Gutters
While technically not part of the roof, rain gutters play a crucial role in keeping it in good shape. Rain gutters act as your roof's drainage system as they transport rainwater away from your home, thus preventing water from pooling up top.
However, if you allow fallen leaves, dust, dirt, and silt to build up in the gutters over time, they end up clogged, and water will pool in the roof area and cause some damage.
Roof leaks happen for a variety of reasons. Shingles typically crack and let moisture through, even if the cracks are tiny ones. A corroded roof flashing could also be the culprit.
Even the smallest of roof leaks can cause water damage, and that's why you need to plug them up immediately.
There is always the possibility that something heavy could fall onto your roof and puncture it.
Strong winds can bring debris or cause tree branches to break and hit your roof hard.
People can also cause roof holes. Roofers, for example, might take a wrong step or drop a tool heavy enough to puncture the roof.
Homes or buildings with flat roofs are prone to ponding water because it's not slanted to ensure proper drainage.
Heavy rains, melting snow, a defective roof flashing, or even an HVAC unit with a clogged drain are common causes of ponding water on the roof.
When all that pooled water doesn't evaporate fast enough and stays on the roof for more than 48 hours, it will eventually degrade the roofing material and make your roof age more quickly. If the ponding water is sizable enough, its weight could also lead to structural damage.
We always welcome warmer weather, but the shingles that make up your roof don't.
When the weather starts heating up, shingles will begin expanding as well. Over time, your roof's shingles will eventually bend or split, rendering it less effective at resisting the elements. Leaks could happen anytime, among other things.
Roof shrinkage happens more commonly to roofs covered with ethylene propylene diene monomer or EPDM, an inexpensive synthetic rubber membrane that effectively protects roofing materials.
EPDM roofs, however, do tend to shrink due to various reasons, including improper application, improper manufacturing, or faulty roof design.
Areas where features penetrate the roof, such as chimneys, skylights, vent pipes, or HVAC systems, need to be sealed off with flashing.
Typically made of aluminum or galvanized steel, a roof flashing prevents water from reaching places where they shouldn't be, that is if it was correctly installed. Poorly-installed roof flashing can lead to leaks and other problems.
Missing or Broken Shingles
If you live in a windier-than-usual area, high winds could blow shingles away or cause them to break. Roof shingles also tend to blister, crack, and curl.
When any of the above happens, your roof becomes more leak-prone.
Damaged Roofing Material
The shingles might be fine, but the weather can also damage other materials used during the installation of your roof. Over time, the elements can render sealants ineffective. When your shingles shrink, the nails that secure them might get pulled out.
Birds can cause roof damage in several ways.
If birds choose to build their nests in your rain gutters, you can expect them to be blocked eventually.
The high acid content of bird droppings can also damage roofing material. Woodpeckers can also damage your roof's eaves.
Then there are mice, squirrels, rats, and other rodents with no problems reaching the roof and building nests up there by gnawing at roofing material.
Snow and Ice
Winters can be incredibly hard on your roof. Over time, the snow and ice accumulated on the roof will be so heavy it could cause structural problems. To take some of the strain away, you must find ways to remove some of the snow or ice from your roof.
When snow and ice melt, the resulting water could make its way under the shingles and cause problems when the temperature drops again. The water stored beneath your shingles will surely freeze and expand, which will push up the shingles and create gaps that could let moisture in.
Some homeowners can't help the lure of potential savings when offered roof installation services on the cheap.
In all likelihood, the people offering low-cost roof installation also use low-quality roofing materials. Worse, it's possible that these roofers are not licensed, insured, and bonded to install and repair roofs.
Homeowners who hire what could only be fly-by-night roofing contractors typically end up with a poorly-installed roof, which could cause roofing problems earlier than expected.
When To Hire Professional Roofing Contractors
Some of the roofing issues mentioned above are simple enough for homeowners to do. Anyone can clear blocked rain gutters. The same goes for removing accumulated snow from the roof. All you need is a snow rake, and you can remove snow from as far up the roof as it can reach.
Many roofing problems, however, will require the services of a professional roofing contractor.
Homeowners often face the temptation to deal with roof problems the DIY way, especially when they can easily access the roof and have some roofing knowledge.
Still, it doesn't make the task any less risky. Roofing, after all, always tops lists of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Even the most experienced roofers are frequently in danger of falling off the roof or suffering from heatstroke. Can you imagine how risky roofing would be for someone who doesn't do it regularly?
There's also the fact that someone who is not an experienced roofer is more likely to miss other signs of roof damage that could cause some trouble in the future. The trained and experienced eye of a professional roofing contractor won't.
If you notice severe issues with your roof, it's always best to get professional roofing services. It may come with higher costs, but hiring licensed roofing contractors will be cheaper down the line, as the work they do will ensure that your roof will last for a long time.
Additional Real Estate Resources
John Cunningham has a great homeowners guide to roof maintenance.
Eric Jeanette gives great advice about what to do when buying a home with an old roof.
Frederick Franks shows readers exactly how to find roof leaks that can cause major damage if not found and repaired quickly.
Ryan Fitzgerald tells all the signs you need a new roof. But trust him you don't want to get to this point. Proper maintenance and save thousands in the long term.