Dealing With a Leaking Roof in Winter

The holiday season is full of gifts and surprises that will put a smile on anyone’s face. A leaking roof however is not the kind of surprise a homeowner wants to come home to. In this post we will discuss some causes of leaky roofs, prevention, and what you should if you find your roof leaking.

What Causes a Leaking Roof?

These a few causes behind leaky roofs:

Compromised shingles: This may be due to poor installation, workmanship, faulty materials, or due to a storm or strong winds. If shingles have blown off, fallen off or are out of place the integrity of your roof has been compromised.
Poor Installation or materials. One of the most common causes for leaks is poor workmanship. If an unexperienced roofing contractor did not install the materials properly, leaks almost always occur.
Punctured roof or obstructed water flow. After a storm,  have an inspection done as soon as possible if signs of a leak are present. Debris could block water flow causing pooling which can seep into your home and cause damage, including leaks.
Improper room ventilation. Poor ventilation in rooms where high moisture is generated (like bathrooms, kitchens, sunrooms) will cause moisture to build up and cause serious damage over time. Make sure these rooms are ventilated properly to avoid problems.
The roof is just too old: Roofs don’t last forever: Once the materials in your roof age beyond their life expectancy they begin to break down, compromising the integrity of your roof.

Compromised valleys. The roof valley (The “V” created where two sloping roofs meet) could have been punctured. Either the valley metal (open valley) or shingles (closed valley) could have been damaged either accidentally by other personnel or roofers stepping in them or if maintenance is neglected, buildup of debris could cause water buildup and leaks.1

Now that we have talked about some of the causes of leaky roofs, we will talk about some preventative tips homeowners can take.

Preventing Leaking Roofs

Get a regular roof inspection: Have your roof inspected by a professional on a regular basis. While it’s good to monitor your walls and roofs for regular leaks a professional has the ability to spot signs of damage early.
Pay attention to roof flashings: The highest percentage of leaks happen at flashings. Without good, tight flashings around chimneys, vents, skylights, and wall or roof junctions, water can enter a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and electrical systems.
Don’t block ventilation: Without proper ventilation, heat and moisture build up in an attic and combine to cause rafters and sheathing to rot, shingles to buckle, and insulation to lose its effectiveness.
Clean out debris from your gutters: Gutters and downspouts that are full of debris will not only cause water to back up under your roof shingles, but they can be damaged beyond repair or even torn off a house.2

Now that we have discussed some preventive measures, we will now discuss what to do if you find your roof leaking.

What Do I Do if My Roof is Leaking?

If you come home and find your roof leaking don’t despair. These are some steps you can take to help mitigate the damage:

Set down some towels: Large bath or beach towels are ideal. Change them regularly so they don’t get sopping wet.
Set out a bucket: If water is dripping onto one place put out a bucket to collect the water.
Set up fans: Put out as many fans as you can. Fans are a big help because they evaporate water quickly.
Turn down the heat: Turn your heat down as much as possible. Ice dams are caused by heat seeping out of your roof, resulting in melting.

In conclusion a leaking roof can hit you by surprise, but with preventative measures this can be avoided.