Skip to Content

6 Common Roof Leaks & How To Repair Them

6 common roof leaks and how to repair them

It’s time to talk about roof leaks. This is the most common home maintenance issue, so you’ll want to know how to handle it right!

Even if your roof was installed just last year, there are still plenty of things that can go wrong.

Fortunately for you, we have six common leak problems and their solutions in this blog post. So read on and learn more!

6 Common Roof Leaks

A roof is one of the most important components of a house. When it comes to roof leaks, it’s important to catch them early before they become serious problems. The following are some common types of leaks and how you can repair them.

1 . Missing shingles or “flat” roofs

Missing shingles are the most common type of roof leak. To repair it, start by checking your shingles for other damage around the area of the missing shingle.

A tear or hole in the adjacent shingles may also allow water to enter your home which can cause more serious problems than just a simple roof leak.

Replace any broken shingles as soon as you find them.

2. Blistering or bubbling shingles

Another common type of roof leak is blistering and bubbling shingles. These are generally caused by water pooling on your roof.

You may be able to spot this if you look up from the ground and notice dark stains on your ceiling below the roof line. Bubbling and blistering shingles should be replaced.

3. Leaking seams

If your seam is leaking, it’s a sign that you need to reseal the entire roof. You can do this by applying a flexible rubberized asphalt type of sealant over the top and sides of the seam.

The key is to use enough caulking material. To properly reseal your roof, you’ll need to buy enough caulk for each seam.

For every 4-5 shingles along the length of a roof, you should use about 1 tube of caulking material.

4. Leaking chimney

If you suspect your chimney is leaking, look for wet areas or dark stains on your ceiling. You can test for a leak by pouring a couple of cups of water around the base of your chimney.

If you find wetness, check to make sure all the flashing is properly installed and working.

The flashing is essentially a metal shield that covers your chimney and keeps water out from behind it.

5. Dormer leaks

Roof leaks in dormers are pretty common. The best way to fix this is by caulking the area between your roof’s shingles and your dormer’s flashing.

If that doesn’t work, you may have to remove the old flashing completely and replace it with new seamless metal flashing.

dormer

6. Bad roof-to-wall flashing

A roof leak at the base of your chimney where it meets the wall is typically caused by a bad roof-to-wall flashing.

This can be easily repaired by removing and replacing your old roof-to-wall flashing with new seamless metal flashing.

Here are some common causes for a leaky roof

A lack of ventilation – Warm air rises and accumulates near the ceiling. This can cause a warm draft due to lack of ventilation.

If your insulation is not doing its job, you’ll feel the cold air escaping through those cracks and crevices.

Poor installation – It’s tough to tell if poor workmanship caused this issue, but it happens more often than we’d like to admit.

An inexperienced roofer may install the wrong amount of shingles, or too few or too many. They could also install the tiles in a way that leads to gaps and water leakage.

Natural disasters – Sure, hurricanes are awesome when you’re watching them from inside your home (we’ve all been there).

But we can’t stand by and let Mother Nature destroy our roofs! Wind gusts can cause tiles to fly off. If you’re in the path of a hurricane, it’s best not to risk that chance!

How to Check for Roof Leaks

Here are some tips to check for leaks:

  • Check for damp spots or discoloration of the ceiling below at night when it is dark.
  • Look from inside by looking through a window that normally has no view of the sky outside or have someone stand in the room looking for water leaks coming through any part of the roof especially in and around valleys and skylights.
  • If you see water stains or ceiling discoloration below during the day or at night, there is a good chance that you have roof leaks.
  • Use special “black light” to check for dampness in the insulation at night while anyone else present looks for wet spots on the ceiling below.
    • This can be done by carrying a black light and looking for wet spots on the insulation.
  • Attach a garden hose to an outside spigot and let it drip – one drop every 2 seconds – onto the roof at night.
    • Make sure that no one is standing below during this test, or you will give them quite a shower bath!
    • Observe the roof at dawn and see where the water has come through.
  • If you discover a leak while not at home, go outside and check for dampness in and around the area of the suspected leak.
    • Look for discoloration on the exterior walls and ceilings below that might indicate that there is a roof leak or plumbing vent stack/drain piping that has dropped and is directing water into your walls or ceiling in that area.
  • If you cannot find the source of a leak, there are professional roofing contractors who can locate leaks inside and outside your home by using special equipment to detect moisture and ultrasonic roof leak detectors which send sound waves through the roof to discover leaks before major damage is done.

Reason why roof leaks occur

Whenever you have a roof, there is going to be a possibility of it leaking.

Roof leak repair should be something that should be taken care of as soon as possible and this is because the longer the leak continues, the more damage it can cause.

When we talk about roof leaks we are not typically talking about small little holes or problems where you can easily patch it up yourself.

Most of the time, you are going to need a professional roofer’s help when you have serious leaks because these leaks may be big and they will require more than just one person to fix them.

The reason why roofs leak is that over time there is damage on the roof itself or there are problems with the roofing materials themselves.

Roof leaks can occur when there is a crack in the shingles, missing or cracked shingle granules, blown off or damaged shingles, missing chimney flashing and other problems.

What are common causes of roof leaks?

  • Weight on the roof – The way to know if your roof is damaged because of something heavy, such as a tree limb or a piece of ice that fell from the sky, you may need to get on top of your roof and do some investigating.
    • You can also check for broken or missing shingles around these areas.
  • Wind – Roof vents being blocked by debris. One cause of wind roof leaks is when your roof vents are blocked to prevent air from escaping.
    • When this happens, it can cause a lot of problems because there will be poor circulation inside the home and this will make it easier for ice dams to form.
    • If you do have blocked roof vents, you need to take care of them as soon as possible so that you don’t have any problems.
  • Moisture in your attic – When there is a lot of moisture inside the attic, this can cause problems with the roof because it will weaken it and may even lead to mold growth.
    • If you see that there is a musty smell inside your home, it could be caused by an excessive amount of moisture which will eventually lead to roof leaks.
  • Tree damage – When there is tree damage on your roof, this can cause problems because the roots of the tree will start to grow and they can actually damage the shingles of the roof so that it is easier for water to get inside and cause a leak.
    • To prevent further problems you need to remove any trees that may be causing damage to your roof.
Lemon tree growing on the roof. Andalusia Spain
  • Mistakes when installing a new roof – When you install a new roof on your house, there are some mistakes that you need to avoid making.
    • One of the biggest mistakes is not applying ice and water shields in low spots or at penetrations through the roof.
    • You also need to pay attention and make sure that your roof ridge and hips are flashed properly.

Roof leaks are classified into five categories

  • Pooling water – This is when there is a pool of water on the roof that doesn’t drain.
    • There could be a few reasons why this occurs: clogged or damaged drainage, blocked gutter downspout, inadequate slope to the roof or ice damming at the eaves.
  • Wind-blown rain – A combination of wind and rain can cause water to blow underneath the shingles and build up over time.
    • Homes located in coastal regions can also experience this type of leak.
  • Penetration –  This is when there is an opening in the roof, such as skylights or exhaust pipes, that allow water to pass through.
  • Turned-up edges –  An asphalt shingle roof has a standard 5-inch overhang.
    • When the shingles are cut too short, water is able to run down behind the cut and then begin working its way under the shingle from above.
  • Ice damming – If snow melts off of the roof at a fast rate, this can cause water to back up under the shingles and cause penetration.
Ice dams and snow on roof and gutters

What to do about these leaks

  • Pooled water – If there is no debris like leaves or twigs, this type of leak can be handled with a garden hose. Otherwise, use a wet/dry vacuum on the roof surface to remove water.
  • Wind-blown rain – Check the gutters and downspouts to ensure they are draining properly. Inspect the roof for any loose shingles or missing nails.
    • If you cannot see if there is a hole in your roof, use binoculars from inside of your home.
  • Penetration – A tube of caulk would seal up most penetrations, but if it’s too big of a job, you can always hire a roofer to do the work for you.
  • Turned-up edges – If your home is still under warranty, contact your shingle manufacturer immediately.
    • If it isn’t, install flashing tape around skylights, exhaust vents or other penetrations to prevent leakage.
  • Ice damming – Ice dams are caused by ice building up along the roof’s overhang. There are two solutions to this problem.
    • The first is to break or remove ice that is near your home or on your gutters.
    • This approach causes damage to the roof, so you might want to consider the second option of hiring a contractor to install heat cables.

FAQs

Why do I need to immediately repair any roof leaks?

You should always immediately repair any roof leaks that you find, before they can do any more damage and become a bigger problem down the line.

When you ignore your roof’s leak, it can cause water to get under your roof decking.

If this happens, the wood will quickly rot and leave your home vulnerable to more problems in the future.

What are the signs that I have damage or leaks due to ice dams?

Your roof will start out normally, but as it gets colder and the heat from inside rises up and hits the underside of your shingles (the undersides face upwards when properly installed), the shingles will begin to loosen.

This is because the heat melts the granules that are holding them down, but then as it begins to freeze again at night, this water freezes and expands again which loosens again your shingles.

Ice dams are formed between flat sections of roofs, these areas are where snow gets packed into after snowfall.

Then the water has nowhere to go after it melts off the roof, so it backs up and goes behind your shingles making ice dams.

When this happens, you may see a few icicles hanging from your eaves or some localized areas of roof leaks.

What types of damage can I expect if I have an ice dam?

One of the most common problems people face when they have frequent ice dams is rot, because water can seep behind your shingles and cause damage to your roof decking.

If you have a lot of ice buildup around the edges of your roof after it snows, this could also force your gutters loose as well as making your shingles curl up and detach from your roof.

If the ice dams are around your skylights, this can cause them to leak as well as making it difficult if not impossible for you to open them up.

What type of damage can happen if I don’t repair my roof leaks?

If you go too long without repairing roof leaks, you will notice that your ceiling starts to sag and even sometimes cracks.

If the water seeps behind your shingles for too long, not only can it damage your wood decking but also cause mold and mildew to start growing which can create a terrible smell that’s hard to get rid of.

Not only that but if you have an attic leak it can cause insulation to become wet and decrease its effectiveness.

Final Thoughts on How to Fix a Roof Leak

There are 5 basic categories of roof leaks: pooling water, ice dams, turned-up edges, penetration and lastly wind damage.

It’s impossible to tell which one is causing the leak without actually inspecting your roof. Make sure you take a minute to look at all potential sources of leakage before you begin.

The good news is that many of the leaks are easy to repair yourself, as long as you have a few basic tools and a little patience.

The first step is locating & patching the leak. Once the roof is patched, it’s time to think about preventing future problems

If your roof suffers from multiple issues, don’t panic. A good roofing contractor can fix anything.

It is still best to avoid major damage in the future by understanding how these types of problems occur and what you need to do when they arise.

Before you begin, it’s important that you are familiar with safety precautions  and how to work on your roof safely. Roof repair is a dangerous business!

When you are ready, follow these guidelines  and soon your roof will be looking as good as new.

roofing contractor