Common Roof Problems
There are a variety of roof types available — regardless of which type of roof you prefer, each one comes with its own set of issues. Debates over the best type of roof continue, but the reality is there is no such thing as a perfect roof. The owner of the roof has quite a bit of power, and can significantly influence the performance of a roof by taking the time to learn about red flags that may indicate roof damage. If your roof is performing well, it’s easy to forget about it. However, forgetting about your roof can lead to the most significant roof problems. After a roof is installed, the wear and tear begins immediately. All roofs deteriorate over time due to the weather — regardless of what climate you live in.
If you educate yourself on the common roof problems we’ve included below, you will know what to look for. Taking the time to get to know your roof and notice unusual changes in its look can save you a lot of money. Many common roof problems start small, but can grow to cause severe roof damage. We’ve included some of the most common roof problems, followed by a list of natural occurrences that you may not suspect lead to roof damage. While this isn’t a complete list, it includes many of the most common roof problems you should be aware of.
A “leaky roof” is probably the most common roof issue that you hear about, so we’ll start with it. Leaks can occur for a variety of reasons — poor installation, clogged gutters, weather, etc. Unfortunately, often by the time you notice a leaky roof, the water has already seeped through several layers of the roof structure and can be a sign of a significant repair. Moisture is another severe roof problem. While it may not seem to be as bad as a leaky roof, moisture can build up, and cause the growth of mildew and even rot your roof structure over time. Neither of these roof issues are to be taken lightly.
When you have a leaky roof, chances are it may not be the entire roof failing, but rather an indication of the flashing deteriorating. What’s are flashings? Flashings are used to seal up around the edges of the roof, as well as any areas the roof is broken up, for example, around a chimney or skylight. Over time, the flashings may begin to deteriorate and a leak could be a sign that you need to reinforce or replace flashings. It is also possible for flashing to come loose, so that’s worth investigating as well. While this may seem better than a leaky roof due to a complete roof membrane failure, if it’s not noticed and fixed, it will leave moisture and water into your roof and other areas and can cause significant damage. Another reason to make sure you keep an eye on your roof and any moisture you notice in your attic.
When is the last time you had your roof inspected? If you can’t remember, or it’s been several years, you may be contributing to your roof damage. The overwhelming majority of roof problems start small, and become more of an issue over time. If you’re diligent about keeping an eye on changes in your roof, and making sure you have it inspected every once and a while, chances are you can maximize the life of your roof by catching roof issues early.
Roof installations are complex and require a level of expertise and precision to ensure that everything is sealed and assembled correctly. Unfortunately, it’s hard to spot issues related to poor installation with the eye alone, and can cause significant roof damage. For example, to ensure proper adhesion, many things need to taken into consideration and numerous steps that need to be taken. If the roofer’s didn’t do the roof adhesion correctly, water can easily seep into areas it shouldn’t, causing leaks and other damage.
If there are any punctures added to accommodate new equipment on a new roof, it is dangerous for the entire roof systems. Obviously, you want to keep the number of holes in your roof to a minimum, as they leave your roof system vulnerable to seeping water and other debris. This is one of the most common metal roof problems. Metal roofs expand and contract a lot with changing temperatures. Combined with this movement, extra holes (or attempts to patch and seal holes) in a metal roof system can cause significant damage.
Having repairs or additions made to your roof is a step in the right direction to making it better than it was before. Unfortunately, using supplies that aren’t meant for repairing your roof can do more damage than good. That’s not even taking into consideration the foot traffic and weight of construction supplies, which can both add to roof damage as well. This is common in repairing metal roof problems, which require very specific supplies. Plastic cement may seem like a great solution, but the reality is the use of plastic cement to repair a metal roof could do more damage than fixing. This is a great reason to make sure you thoroughly research anyone and everyone you give access to your roof. You want to make sure they know exactly what’s needed, to avoid causing your more headaches in the future.
Why are we referring to gutters when we’re supposed to be addressing common roof problems? Gutters exist for the wellness of your roof. When working properly, gutters collect water and drain it away from your roof and onto the ground. If debris is clogging your gutters, or if they have broken brackets or seams, they aren’t able to do their job effectively, which means water can back up and get underneath your roof, causing rot and leaks.
A healthy roof needs healthy ventilation. This ventilation should occur naturally through vents at the top and bottom of the roof. Since heat rises, the warmer air moves up the roof and out the vents at the top, while cooler air is drawn in through the vents at the bottom. While this is a natural process, it still needs checked regularly. If something gets in the way of this natural movement of air, you can end up with heat and moisture in your attic, which causes damage to a variety of structural areas and your energy costs.
Your roof has something called a roof membrane underneath the shingles. Over time, that shrinks. When the roof membrane shrinks causing serious roof membrane problems. These membrane roof problems can cause cracks, blisters and splits in shingles. What causes it to shrink? Many things can contribute to the shrinking of a roof membrane. There are a variety of roof membranes available to purchase, each with different qualities that may contribute to shrinkage. The installation of the roof membrane can also affect its shrinkage, as can the design of the roof. Shrinkage is something that is known to occur in roofs and should be taken into consideration by the person installing the roof. Even with the roof installers taking precautions, shrinkage is still a common roof problem.
Blistering is one of a few common roof shingle problems. The overwhelming majority of the time, blistering occurs in roof shingles due to overheating caused by poor ventilation of the roof system. Because shingles are installed in layers, blisters usually will not turn into roof leaks. However they can make your roof ugly if they are frequent and cover a large area. There is a common misconception that blisters indicate poor manufacturing. In the past, when manufactures made shingles manually, they were vulnerable to human error, which meant that an uneven distribution of the ingredients could lead to blisters. Now, the adding and mixing of ingredients to create shingles has been automated, which doesn’t eliminate faulty shingles, but does make them much rarer.
Not all roof shingle problems are visible to you, but curling is one that we’re pretty sure you can spot. If you notice that some of your shingles are literally curling up at the bottom, your roof membrane is likely getting exposure to some elements that the shingles should protect it from. There are several reasons why shingles curl. If you notice that you have widespread curling, it could be a result of improper installation or a sign of a ventilation issues. If there are just a few curling shingles over your roof, it could be the nails are too high, lack of back coating or the under-saturation of the asphalt felt on your shingles. Regardless of what the cause may be, one thing remains the same — curled shingles are leaving part of your roof exposed that shouldn’t be, which is dangerous even in small areas.
A we’ve alluded to, your roof should be pretty flat. If you notice that there are areas where shingles seem to come together to form a peak, that’s called buckling. Buckling causes shingles to lift up, leaving roof for water and other debris to come between the roof membrane and the shingles. How much damage can a few buckled shingles do? The answer is a lot. Trapped water and debris can lead to further roof damage in the form of punctured roof membranes and leaks.
Of course, you’d notice if your roof was missing a shingle, right? When’s the last time you looked? Sometimes weather events can rip off shingles, leaving nearby shingles susceptible to the same. One missing shingle can cause damage, but when a few begin disappearing, the problem could get much bigger, much quicker. The bottom line is that missing shingles leave your roof membrane exposed and susceptible to a variety of roof membrane problems and damage, usually from water. When one shingle goes missing, it’s often easier for nearby shingles to be easily ripped or blown away. Make sure you check for missing shingles, and get them replaced as soon as possible.
Natural Causes of Roof Damage
There’s a common misconception about natural causes of roof damage — that you don’t really need to worry unless you have extreme weather conditions. The reality is, roofs are taking the brunt of all weather conditions, and even when weather isn’t extreme, it has an effect on your roof. We’ve pulled together a list of a few of the natural causes of roof issues, so you are familiar with what they are, and what damage they cause your roof.
When you think of natural occurrences that cause roof damage, chances are your mind goes immediately to storms, or other natural disasters. The reality is that one of the biggest culprits of roof damage comes on those clear, calm sunny days — ultraviolet rays. Every day, whether there are clouds or sun, ultraviolet rays are hitting your roof. Some roofs are designed to take these rays better than others. This is one of the most common roof shingle problems, as ultraviolet rays literally change the chemical composition of asphalt shingles and break them down over time, making them dry and brittle, often taking away their waterproof qualities.
Lingering moisture doesn’t mix with any type of roof structure. Even if you don’t have puddles of water and your gutters are clear, the water running down your roof is wearing off the finish over time. Notice roof areas where water is collecting? Ponding water anywhere on your roof or backed up in your gutters can leak through the roof membrane and into your home, causing all kinds of damage to the roof structure, but also the structure of your home. Moisture underneath your roofing materials can cause just as much of a headache. Additional moisture can cause mildew to grow and many things in your roof and home to slowly rot.
Sitting water is one of many flat roof problems to be aware of. While water can cause damage to all different types of roofs, flat roofs are especially at risk if they do not have appropriate ventilation and drainage. While metal roofs seem to have a better reputation for rain damage, one of the metal roof problems that come with rain and moisture is rust.
Snow and Ice
While icicles hanging from the edges of your home may look like a beautiful winter wonderland, it could also be a sign of ice dams, which can lead to major damage. An ice dam forms when you have snow on your roof that melts, runs down the roof, and then refreezes and backs up in your gutters and on the edge of the roof. Sure, this may result in icicles, but the buildup can cause water to pool (or dam) on top of the ice. Bring on the next snow and you may have a few layers of ice, water and snow sitting on the edges of your roof. That water can seep down through the roof membrane and into your house, causing damage all the way through.
Hurricane-strength winds aren’t necessary to damage your roof. A significant wind on a clear day or in a thunderstorm could be enough to do some damage. If you notice shingles, or pieces of shingles, in your yard, obviously you have a problem. Missing shingles leave the roof membrane exposed — that’s one less layer of protection, so you want to get it checked out as soon as possible. However, wind damage doesn’t always leave shingles in your yard. You may still have roof wind damage and not know it. Wind can get under your roof around the edges, or underneath loose parts of your roof, releasing some of those tight connections, and clearing the way for water and debris to make its way under your roof.
Extreme Heat or Cold
When a roof gets warm, it expands, and contracts as it cools. While there is some balance of heat and cold and expanding and contracting, in all roofs, some climates have more of an extreme shift in temperature. Going from a very hot temperature down to a significantly colder temperature has a big impact on your roof — known as thermal shock. After repeatedly expanding and contracting, over time the structure of the roof can become weak. In addition to the roof itself becoming weak, the movement has an effect on where the roof attaches to gutters and flashings, weakening those areas as well. What’s so bad about a weak roof? It can lead to leaks and a variety of other problems that a strong roof isn’t prone to.
It’s easy to say that a tree branch falling on your roof causes damage, but unfortunately, trees planted nearby can also be a problem. If branches are blowing up against parts of your roof, they’re slowly, but surely, rubbing away the finish. The leaves from nearby trees are more likely to clog your gutters, which can cause significant damage over time. In addition to wearing away your roof and clogging your gutters, nearby trees are always at risk for falling onto your roof in extreme weather. So while you may not have had to deal with a falling branch or tree yet, it’s best to have the tree trimmed, or removed to prevent future risks.
Trees are also often home to birds, squirrels and other critters. While birds and squirrels may seem harmless, having a tree nearby encourages them to be on your roof and gutters. As the birds dig for insects and the squirrels jump from the tree to your roof and gutters, they can cause small holes and damage to your gutters that turn into bigger roof issues over time.
Moss and Algae
While you may think the moss and algae growing on your roof are a harmless addition that adds a unique look and a pop of color, they can actually cause significant damage. Both of these collect and hold water like sponges. The last thing you want is water having a home on your roof. Over time, as the moss and algae spread, so does the water. Eventually, it’s sure to make its way under shingles, and from there to the roof’s membrane. After that, it’s only a matter of time before you notice a leak — and we’re right back where we started.
It’s easy to forget about the roof over your head — especially if it’s doing its job — out of sight, out of mind. Unfortunately, this contributes to one of the most common roof problems — neglect. Dedicate some time every year to conducting your own visual inspection. Skip the ladder and get out a pair of binoculars. If you have an attic, spend some time examining your ceiling and walls to make sure there isn’t any discoloration that may indicate moisture. If you see anything that doesn’t look quite right, call a roof inspector and have them come out and take a look.
Visual inspections are important, but remember, not all of these roof issues are visible to you — trapped moisture can cause significant damage, but it’s not necessarily something an untrained eye would be able to see. That’s why we also recommend having your roof inspected every few years. Better safe than sorry — the majority of roof issues start small and grow to cause expensive damage. By taking the time to conduct your own visual inspection and getting a professional to inspect the roof every few years, you’re sure to minimize the number of your roof issues.
Here at Liberty Restoration Group, we pride ourselves in fulfilling all of your roofing needs. We recognize that many roofing problems are easy to miss and hard to fix. So whether you’re building a new home, assessing storm damage or just want an inspection to give you peace of mind, we have you covered. Contact us today, and find out why Liberty Restoration Group is one of Ohio’s most trusted roofing contractors.