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5 Most Common Causes of Roof Leaks


roof leaks kansas city

As a homeowner, maintaining your home is a year-round job. Staying vigilant when it comes to the condition of your home will help you to notice and address issues as soon as they come up. Needless to say, catching small problems before they turn into bigger ones can enhance your investment into your home while saving you plenty of time, money, and stress in the process.

One of the most important components of the home’s construction is the roof. The roof protects the interior of the home from outside threats, such as storms and other intense weather conditions. When the roof is compromised, finding the cause of the leaks is essential to preventing bigger problems—including major damage and expensive repairs.

Understanding the main causes of roof leaks is the key to maintaining it properly. While you can always rely on professional roofing contractors like the team at Smart Exteriors to diagnose your roof issues for you, it can be helpful to understand how to detect leaks and understand what is causing them on your own. Not to mention, it could save you money in the long run.

Detecting Roof Leaks

It’s not enough to understand the most common causes of a roof leak. You also need to know how to detect a leak before it becomes a much greater problem. That’s why we put together a handy reference guide to assist you the next time you suspect that your roof is leaking.

Ideally, you’d immediately notice the leak as it occurs. This means actively paying attention to your roof construction and tracking any leaks as they happen during rainfall or in intense weather conditions like a snowstorm. The reason for this is because the cause will be more apparent while the roof is leaking. While the water stains left behind can indicate a leak; these won’t necessarily help you to reveal the cause of it.

In some cases, it might be impossible to check for a leak during a rain or snow event. When this is the case, it’s recommended to perform a water test once the weather is drier. A water test consists of the use of a garden hose and two people: one to spray the roof with water, and another to report the leaks noticed inside the house.

The Usual Suspects

It’s true that roof leaks may have numerous causes, but some are much more common than others. In fact, if the cause is not one of the five listed below, then it’s most likely another issue entirely such as a leaking pipe, faulty windows, or other similar concerns.

Age of the Roof

Your roof’s lifespan depends on the quality of your roofing materials, the professionalism of the installation, and your level of home maintenance and care. At some point, the age of the roof will result in leaks here and there. This is largely thanks to the wear and tear the roof faces year over year due to inclement weather, sun exposure, and natural degradation of the roofing material. A well-maintained roof will last longer, but if the roof is over 25 years old, then it may be time to start considering extensive repair or replacement depending on the damage currently present.

Missing or Damaged Shingles

This is a common cause for roof leaks that are fortunately easily remedied. Strong winds or heavy rain can loosen the shingles on your roof. When this occurs, the rain can slip underneath and into the home. After each rainfall or storm, it’s always a good idea to check for missing or broken shingles immediately, as prompt action makes for minimal repairs. Keep in mind that over time, the repairs or replacement may need to be more in-depth.

Clogged Gutters

This roof leak cause is often the most overlooked due to the tendency for most homeowners to neglect gutter maintenance. The sole purpose of the gutter system is to help direct the water down from the roof and away from the house. When the gutters are clogged, the water can’t flow properly, which results in pooling water. Pooled water wears away at the shingles and slips underneath.

One of the easiest ways to negate this concern is to invest in a gutter guard. While many gutter guard products exist, experts agree that the only real option is high-quality stainless steel mesh products. Stainless steel mesh is the only material proven to actually prevent clogs over time, by holding up in harsh weather and keeping out the tiniest debris from entering your gutter system.

Winter Weather

When the weather gets colder, snow, ice, and freezing rain are a homeowner’s biggest worries. Snow doesn’t run off like water does, which means all of that weight continues to sit on the roof. When it melts and then refreezes, you run the risk of ice dams. Ice dams are the largest reason for roof damage during the winter. Should this be a concern for you, it’s recommended to invest in a roof heating system that can efficiently melt the snow before it has a chance to refreeze.

Damaged Flashing

Flashing is the thin piece of metal that is installed under the shingles and joints. Its purpose is to prevent water from entering the home. In most cases, this is sealed together with tar. However, when the tar is compromised due to events such as weather, the flashing may become compromised as well. Regular maintenance can help prevent this from becoming a bigger problem in the future.

Leaking Valleys

Roof valleys occur when two roof planes meet. Practically all roofs have these, which means there are natural weak points in the roof to stay on top of. The sloped nature of these valleys makes it easy for water to sit and weaken the shingles. You can minimize the chances of this occurring by ensuring the sealing is done properly and inspection after any inclement weather.

What to Do When a Leak is Discovered

In the event you have a discovered a roof leak, the solution is either repair or replace—depending on the severity of the leak along with the overall quality of your roof. If it’s an isolated spot that involves a shingle or two, then you can expect to need minor repairs done. However, in some cases the damage can be too big to tackle by yourself. That’s why it’s always recommended to work with a trained professional that can advise you through the repair and replacement process.

If you’re ready to explore your roofing options, give us a call to speak with one of our agents at Smart Exteriors about our Kansas City roof installation services or fill out our online form to schedule a free estimate.