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Hidden Signs of a Damaged and Leaky Roof

Your roof is designed to protect you from the elements, but sometimes Mother Nature proves too powerful. From years of harsh sun to storms, damage builds up and will eventually lead to leaks. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Sometimes signs of a leaky roof are obvious, but not always. Here’s how to tell if you have a problem.

Storm damage

Rain storms, hail and wind damage such as tornadoes and hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage on their own (known as acts of God in the insurance trade) or they can aggravate existing rooftop problems.

Rain – A heavy shower can knock branches off of trees that can damage shingles. The major problem, though, is rain that comes in sideways. It can force water under your shingles and inside the flashing surrounding skylights, chimneys and vents. This creates a permanent pathway for moisture to enter your home.

Hail – Hailstones 1-1/4 inch or larger cause most roof problems. They can pit many kinds of metal roofs, crack weak tiles and slate pieces, and scrape the protective granules off of asphalt shingles. Check your air conditioner condenser, gutters and metal mailbox for dents after a hailstorm; chances are your roof also suffered damage. Sometimes this damage is difficult for an untrained eye to spot. Call a licensed roofer to be sure.

Wind damage – Strong wind can rip off loose shingles and separate metal roof fasteners. More commonly, it can cause sharp debris to smack the roof, causing dents, cracks and scraping on all roof types. This is the kind of damage that will weaken the surface over time. Don’t put off an inspection and any needed repairs.

Aging roof problems

Like just about anything else in your home, your roof will age. Some materials like slate, tile and metal hold up longer than wood and shingle. Sun and ponding water will eventually degrade a flat roof.

No matter what covering you have, the quality of the installation (such as the underlayment, fasteners and flashing) is important to longevity. Your rain gutters should also be cleaned of debris at least once a year to divert damaging rainwater off the roof and siding.

Has it been awhile since you last had your roof looked at? Schedule an inspection at least once a year and clean out your gutters regularly. Most roofing companies can do this for under $100 – or even for free.

How to check for leaks

Some leaky roof problems are easy to spot, such as stains or drips on ceilings and walls. Others may be invisible for now but will cause damage over time. One important thing to remember is that water travels: the source of a leak may be far away from the place you spot trouble. Here’s what to look for:

·        On a sunny day, go into your attic and look for pinpoints of light from outside.

·        During a rain shower, shine a flashlight inside the attic and look for water reflection.

·        If you have asphalt shingles, examine your gutters or the ends of downspouts for piles of granules. An excess of black grains means the protective coating is wearing away.

·        If you feel comfortable on a ladder and observe proper safety precautions, check the roof's surface for loose pieces, dents, splitting and other red flags, and then call a professional.

The bottom line: treat problems early before they cause more expensive issues. 

Use a pro and save some dough!


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