Water damage from roof leaks

All year round, your roof takes a beating. It’s designed to do so and why so many home improvement contractors consider it to be the most vital comfort system in your home. After all, you wouldn’t be very comfortable with water pouring on your head while you sat on your couch. But all roofs, regardless of roofing material, eventually lose their ability to provide the level of protection your home needs. Generally speaking, asphalt shingle roofs have around a 20 year lifespan but some material types can last for twice that long. But like any home system, wear and tear (not to mention homeowner neglect) can decrease that lifespan. So let’s discuss some of the things we encourage homeowners (and business owners) to do to make sure they get the most out of their new roof and don’t end up with really expensive water damage.


How to prevent roof leaks & water damage


mold-growth-roof-deckHere is a quick checklist of maintenance items any professional roofer would recommend you follow to make sure that water doesn’t end up seeping through your roof, into your attic and then into your home. In many cases, roof problems that lead to water damage aren’t spotted until a much bigger problem has occurred: black mold in their attic. If the leak is small enough to allow water in over time but not big enough to create visible signs of water damage (spots on your ceiling or even water dripping down), the moisture problem can escalate over time and you could end up with very costly mold damage in your attic space.



Check everything that pops through your roof


There are a number of things that need to go through your roof. Because of that, holes are created to allow these systems to pop through (plumbing vents, chimneys, sunlights, etc.). Flashing is used to make the seals around these holes waterproof. Unfortunately, they’re usually the first areas of your roof to fall into a state of disrepair. Check the flashing around these holes to make sure you don’t have a problem brewing!

Here is how it should look:



And here is how you know you are at risk of roof leaks from shoddy flashing:



Check for hanging tree branches


Tree branches can cause quite a bit of damage to your roof. Especially if your roof is composite shingles, the constant friction between the roof and leaves/branches can cause significant erosion. Survey your property and if you have any overhanging branches, cut them down immediately…it’ll also help you with the next item on the checklist!


Keep those gutters clean


For most homeowners, their gutters just aren’t a high priority (at least not compared to renovating their garage, or the myriad of other honey-dos on their list). It’s unfortunate because of the big role they play in keeping your home functioning well. Each fall (and spring), clean out your gutters! And when it rains, grab an umbrella and go watch your gutters to see how they perform!


How is your insulation?


Ice_dam_slate_roofThis isn’t a roof problem, per se, but it has a massive impact on your roof. If you have poor insulation (and a roofing deck that doesn’t provide for proper ventilation), the heat from inside your house will escape through your ceilings and eventually end up heating your roof deck. Why does that matter? Well, if you live in the south and never have to deal with snow, then it only matters because you’re losing energy and costing yourself more money to heat your house in the winter. But if you live in the north, you’ll end up getting what are known as ice dams. When this happens, your roof is truly under siege. Over time, the water pooling on your roof can degrade your shingles and end up penetrating them. Once that happens, water will enter your attic and then possibly your home. Uh oh!

Is your roof at risk of failure?

We talk often about the importance of your roof and it’s not just because our jobs are in the roofing industry. We see firsthand what happens when a roof fails, and it’s not pretty. Like any vital system that makes your home your home (read: dry, comfortable and somewhere you love being), a sure-proof way to make your home a living nightmare is to ignore those systems until they fail. And with your roof, when it fails it can cause a lot of havoc to your family, not to mention become a financial nightmare.


Common roof problems


Roofs aren’t terribly complex systems. They consist of a plywood surface (roof deck), a weatherproof membrane, and the roofing material you have chosen (tile, asphalt shingles, etc.). That said, here are some common problems we see with home roofs:


Leaks and moisture problems


This is probably the most common issue we see with roofs. Unfortunately it can also cause the most damage. Most of the leaks occur from improperly installed flashing around vents, chimneys and other things.


Roof shrinkage


As we mentioned above, below your actual roofing material is a membrane called an ethylene propylene diene monomer, or EPDM for short. Yes, that’s quite a mouthful…but basically it’s extremely weather resistant and also protects against punctures in the roof. But it’s also prone to shrinking, which can lead to problems with the roof shingles themselves.


Roof blistering


roof-blistersRoof blisters usually happen when a roof gets too hot. Every roof needs to be well ventilated. This not only ensures the roof doesn’t get too hot in the summer but also that it remains cold in the winter and doesn’t result in ice dams (but that’s a blog post for a later date!). In any event, roof blisters can shorten the life span of your roof. That’s especially true if the the shingles themselves are disturbed, either by someone walking on them or debris falling on your roof. Should this happen, the shingles will lose their ability to provide protection and eventually cause roof leaks!


What to do


Any roofing manufacturer will tell you to have your roof inspected at least once per year. These inspections can be invaluable because they’re particularly expensive and they can spot trouble while it’s still minor (read: fairly inexpensive to fix). At RoofingConference, we strongly suggest you follow these recommended steps and stave off any potential problems by having a trained eye inspect your roof regularly!

What’s happening in the roofing industry?

Our goal at RoofingConference.com is to be an incredible resource for consumers, roofers, manufacturers and suppliers of roofing materials. As such, one of the main components of our blog is announcing recent news and articles we believe will be helpful for various readers.


Introducing TheMostNaturalResource.com, a web site devoted to educating people about sustainable forestry and its impact on the building industry. The Oregon Forest Resources Institute and Washington Forest Protection Association have teamed up to provide the web site. As the site explains, wood is the only building material that is naturally produced by the sun. Research indicates that substituting wood for more energy intensive would reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 30%. Obviously their goal is to increase the use of wood in our construction industry but to do so in a sustainable way that ensures healthy forests and a well-regulated foresting industry.

The Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association recently released a report discussing the impacts of roof traffic and moisture on roofing insulation materials.



In a heartwarming storay, METALCON (the metal constructions international event for metal construction materials) is teaming up with America’s Fund, a non-profit devoted to helping US veterans. This year, METALCON is raising money for military vets that are in need of assistance.


Sno-Gem has introduced a patent pending new snow-retention system that can be used for new build construction as well as retrofits on existing roofs. To learn more about the system, please visit their web site.


In what can only be described as a pretty significant event within the metal roofing industry, The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute recently confirmed a study commissioned by the Metal Construction Association verifying the service life of some metals roofs to be 60 years. To put that number in perspective, that’s a longer service life than some of the buildings these roofs are designed to protect!