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what causes a roof to leak

At one point or another, you’ve likely had an issue with your roof. Whether it’s a leaky roof or a roof full of moss, you’ll have had problems. The traditional solution for a leaky roof when you’re young is a bucket collecting all the water, but as you grow up, you begin to understand this might not be the smartest course of action. 

Instead, you might want to seek out real solutions for two of the most common issues with your roof. In many cases, the best way to fix your roof is to call in roofers, who will have the experience and skill to fix whatever your problem is. If, for whatever reason, you want to have a crack at it first, though, there might be a few tips and tricks to share. 

The classic roof problem: immortalized in cartoons and student living alike. But what causes a roof leak, and how can you fix it? To find out what these are, read on. 


What Causes A Roof Leak?

Several things can cause a roof leak. Some of the top causes include: 

  • Old Age, leading to fragile materials and materials that don't flex or seal like they once did.
  • Blunt Force Damage, often caused by hail, broken limbs, or airborne objects during a storm
  • Snow and Ice Damage, can lead to cracks being formed under tiles and in joints and seams that lets water in


Specifically, leaks can come about when flashing cracks, shingles break, or tiles and slates fall off. What causes these problems (extreme weather, falling branches) could be any number of things. 

Looking at the roof itself, a leak is most likely to occur around these fragile parts - i.e., near flashing points, under shingles that have taken on damage, or near skylights. Other than materials, there are also parts of the roof that are the most susceptible to leaks - most notably, near a chimney (if you have one), the gutters, those parts closest to pipes and vents, and in low spots of the roof. 

If the leak in your roof isn’t as obvious as the cartoon drip-drip of water into a pail, the signs of a leak to look out for are:

  • Discolored ceilings
  • Damp walls

Snow and Ice Damage Is A Top Cause Of Roof Damage

 The winter is a difficult time for many areas of house maintenance, but it can really wreak havoc on your roof. Especially for those who live in areas that have harsh winters, this roof issue can be a genuine problem. 


What causes snow and ice damage?

Snow and ice damage happens following a particularly cold stretch - particularly those that leave snow or ice behind. The snow and ice itself isn’t the actual problem. The real problem happens when this snow and ice melts. If this water manages to seep underneath your shingles or tiles, you may get into the problem of leaky roofs, as we discussed earlier. Much worse, however, is if the cold weather causes this water under your shingles and tiles to freeze. 

It’s a real possibility - if it’s been cold enough to snow or ice, it’s likely going to be cold enough again to refreeze the water. This is a big problem because any ice under shingles can push the flashing and shingles out of their places, creating gaps in your roof. These gaps are a nightmare - even more water (later turning to ice) can fall through these gaps and wreak havoc. 


How can you fix snow and ice damage?

When you face a mass issue like this, you need to call professional roofers. The job is often too big for a regular person to manage. 


How can you prevent snow and ice damage? 

You can, however, take steps yourself to avoid this ice and snow damage occurring. Doing an inspection of your roof each season - and calling in any maintenance you spot that needs doing - can help identify and rid your roof of any problems before extreme weather conditions begin. 

If you are seriously worried about this happening - or if it has happened to you multiple times before - you might want to think about replacing your roof with EDPM or other single-ply membrane roofs, as they are less likely to suffer from snow and ice damage. 


How Can You Fix A Leaky Roof?

Leaky roofs are often a sign of greater issues structurally in the roof itself, so this problem is best solved with professional roofers

If you are determined to do it on your own, leaky roofs can be solved with precision. The method will depend on the type of roof you have. 

A shingle roof will require you to lift damaged shingles by hand, remove nails with a hammer, then slide the pre-cut new shingle into place. You then need to fasten the new shingle to the roof and finish by applying a roofing adhesive to the head of each nail you’ve put in. 

A tile roof works similarly. If the broken tile is beyond repair, remove it and slide a new one into place. You should secure tiles with a tile clip or roofing nail. If the broken tile can be repaired, take it out and apply roofing sealant to the area under the tile. Then put the cracked one back into place, and apply more roofing sealant on top of it, taking care to fill in the crack. 


How Do You Prevent Roof Leaks?

The best way to avoid having to repair a leaky roof is to ensure your roof never gets into that state. Obviously, it’s difficult to prepare in the case of extreme weather, but there are a few ways you can prevent your roof from leaking. 

Firstly, hiring a professional to fit your roof should stave off any serious issues. Plus, using professionals to fix problems you can’t fix yourself should lead to high-quality work and avoidance of real problems. 

You can help the health of your roof by keeping your gutters clean. This allows water to drain away easily. You can also do regular checks of your roof to make sure there is no debris that could break tiles or dislodge shingles. Inside, ensuring your attic is well-insulated and ventilated should help you avoid leaks that spread deep into the house, causing structural damage. 


Talk To A Professional To Avoid Damage To Your Roof

Roofers are specifically trained to help you out with these kinds of problems. It might feel tempting to sort them out yourself, but you’ll get a better quality service that will benefit you for longer when turning to those in the know. Your best course of action is to do what you can to prevent roof damage, rather than focusing on fixing a problem after it has appeared.

While you might think you can simply grab a ladder and fix the problem yourself, this can be very dangerous if you don't have the proper tools, training, and experience.