Is Your Roof Leaking? (A Step-by-Step Identification Guide)

November 24, 2020

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If you’re a homeowner, no doubt you dread having to ask the question, “Is my roof leaking?” A leaking roof isn’t always as expensive and time-consuming to fix as you might assume, but it can indicate the need for a new roof altogether, which is often far more costly!

Seven Signs of a Leaking Roof Include:

  1.   Mold growth in the home
  2.   Broken or uneven shingles
  3.   Stains and discoloration
  4.   Damp, damaged exterior walls
  5.   Damaged flashing
  6.   Bare spots
  7.   Dripping gutters

Whatever your new roof installation or roof repair costs, it’s vital that you schedule this work quickly. A leaking roof allows heating and cooling to escape, spiking utility costs, while also letting in water, risking rot, mold growth, and pest infestation. Timely roof repairs also keep that damage from getting worse!

To know if your home’s roof is leaking, check out this step-by-step guide for spotting 7 common signs of damage, and call a contractor with additional questions you might have. Remember, too, that being on a roof is unsafe even in the best of conditions, and a severely damaged roof might give way underfoot quite easily! Keep yourself on the ground and have a roofing company perform an inspection if you spot any of these signs of leaks and needed repairs.

How Do You Know If You Have a Leaky Roof?

Signs of a leaky roof might show up both inside and outside the home. Check out some added details of the 7 most common signs of roof leaks and call a roofing company near you if you notice any of these.

1. Mold Growth In the Home

A leaking roof allows outside moisture into the home, including rain, melting snow, and excess humidity. Drywall and other building materials then absorb that moisture, leading to mold growth in areas with little air circulation and light, especially attics or behind walls and above ceilings.

Plumbing leaks are one common reason for mold growth; however, if your home’s plumbing is in good condition, without broken pipes or damaged connectors, it’s time for a roof inspection! An inspection will spot leaks, cracks, gaps, and other openings allowing in water and trapping humidity inside the home, which is no doubt the reason for that mold growth.

2. Broken or Uneven Shingles

Shingles don’t simply provide cover for the home’s roof, but they allow rainwater and melting snow to run downward, toward attached gutters. Broken, buckled, curled, torn, or otherwise uneven shingles don’t direct rain and other moisture off the roof and might even trap that water under or between their surfaces!

Schedule a roof inspection if you notice broken or uneven shingles along a roof surface, even if you haven’t spotted any other signs of a roof leak. A roofing contractor will inspect those shingles as well as insulating felt and roof decking, for signs of leaks and gaps. Needed fixes as well as shingle replacement will then protect your home from potential water damage.

3. Stains and Discoloration

As drywall and other building materials absorb water, they “bleed” the color of their wood and paper construction, leading to brown or yellow stains inside the home. If you see rounded brown stains on a room’s ceiling or along its walls, it’s time to call for a roof inspection!

Stains and discoloration on the roof itself also indicate the need for roof repairs. As water starts to seep into roofing felt, under shingles, or along roof decking, this leads to dark spots on the roof’s surface. You don’t even need to be on the roof to notice these dark areas but can often see them even from across the street! For any such stains and discoloration, schedule a roofing inspection as soon as possible.

4. Damp or Damaged Exterior Walls

Water-stained exterior walls or moss and mold growing along outside walls typically indicate a continuous flow of water down those surfaces. Since the home’s roof should be directing rainwater and melting snow to nearby gutters, damp and damaged walls might indicate shingle damage or missing shingles, both of which increase the risk of a roof leak!

If your home’s walls are covered in mold or moss or are always damp and water-stained, don’t simply schedule pressure washing services or overlook that unsightly mess. Have the roof and gutters checked for damage and schedule an inspection for the home’s interior spaces as well, to spot roof leaks and resultant mold growth.

5. Damaged, Torn, Bent or Missing Flashing

Flashing is a metal piece used to create trenches or drains, typically between two other materials. On a roof, flashing is installed between shingles and roof obstacles such as a chimney stack, vents, skylights, and other such items. Without flashing, water would easily seep into those areas and get trapped, leading to roof damage and eventual cracks and leaks.

During a roof inspection, it’s vital to check flashing and ensure it’s in good condition and secured firmly. If a roof inspector notices damaged or missing flashing, he or she should also check the roof decking and other layers for signs of damage and an increased risk of cracks and resultant leaks.

6. Bare or Bald Spots, Missing Shingles

The occasional missing shingle might not indicate the need for anything other than replacing those few pieces, but large bare or bald spots on the roof increase the risk of roof decking damage and interior water leaks. Rather than simply covering over those spots with new shingles, schedule an inspection to check the risk of cracks and leaks.

7. Dripping Gutters

Gutters perform the vital task of directing rainwater and melting snow to downspouts, which then direct that water away from the home, typically toward the street or a nearby drain. Clogged gutters allow rain to collect, and it then drips over the gutter sides.

When water collects in the gutters rather than draining away, it’s often absorbed into the home’s roofing layers. Shingles, felt, insulation, and decking then suffer water damage that lead to cracks and leaks. While cleaning the gutters can remove those clogs and get water running again as it should, it’s vital you schedule a roof inspection if you notice water dripping from the gutters.

Is My Roof Leaking Or Is It Condensation?

Condensation forms when moisture in the air comes into contact with a cold surface; the moisture then clings to that cold area, creating larger drops that are more visible and noticeable. Condensation is not uncommon around toilet tanks, as the water inside the tanks keeps the porcelain cool so that condensation forms along its outside, and of course it often forms on a cold glass of your favorite beverage!

Because condensation forms from moisture in the air, you might notice it more readily in rooms with excess humidity such as kitchens or bathrooms. Condensation is also more likely to form on cool surfaces, as said, so it’s often found on window panes, vents, and metal surfaces.

If you notice trapped moisture in warmer rooms such as attics and upper story bedrooms, or on warmer surfaces such as walls or ceiling tiles, that might indicate a roof leak. To ensure you know the difference and address needed repairs, schedule a roofing inspection if you notice recurring condensation in your home.

What Would Cause a New Roof to Leak?

A new roof typically stays in good repair for many years; however, poor-quality installation or low-quality materials might lead to cracks, leaks, and other damage far sooner than expected. A roofer rushing through the job might not line up shingles properly or ensure they’re connected securely, allowing water to seep through them and form cracks along the roof decking. Poor-quality materials might also tear or splinter sooner than expected.

Storms with heavy rains or snow, high winds, large branches scraping against or falling onto the roof, hail, and other such objects also damage even the newest, highest-quality roof! No matter your roof’s age, ensure you schedule regular inspections and especially after strong storms and other severe weather conditions move through your area.

How Do You Know If Your Roof Needs Replacing?

A leaking roof doesn’t always need replacing; a roofer might only need to repair or replace a small section of decking, felt, and shingles, for a watertight surface that lasts for years. In other cases, however, your home might need a new roof even if the current roof is only a few years old! How do you know if your roof needs replacing?

While there is no “one size fits all” answer to this question, note a few considerations to discuss with your roofer. One is that strong storms especially can damage virtually an entire surface of a home’s roof, so that it’s just as cost-effective to replace all the shingles and other materials than just a few small sections.

A roof’s age is also a vital factor to consider. If the home’s roof is nearing the end of its lifespan, it’s often best to simply replace it entirely once cracks and leaks form. Your roofing contractor can determine how many years of life are left in that roof, but note that shingle roofs might last 20 to 30 years, tile roofs some 30 years or more, and metal roofs might last some 40 to 50 years.

One last consideration is how long you expect to own your home. If you might put the house on the market in a few years, it’s better to invest in a new roof now, so that it’s in good condition when you’re ready to sell. If you will be staying in your home indefinitely, you might pay for needed repairs now and then choose a new roof in a few years, when it’s absolutely necessary and perhaps more affordable as well!

A Word From Our Roofers

Lewisville Roofing Company is proud to provide this information to our readers and especially proud of the work offered by our Lewisville roofing contractors. If you still have questions, including “Is my roof leaking?”, or if you need roof repairs, don’t hesitate to contact us today!




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