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6 Dangers of a Leaky Roof

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
Leaky Roof

Roof leaks can result from a broken tree limb shattering shingles during a storm or simply from wear and tear as outdoor elements take their toll on roofing materials. Though plumbing ruptures, sewage backups and other dramatic incidents cause more acute damage in the house, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, roof leaks represent the most common cause of slow, incremental water damage that accumulates over a longer time frame.

This gradual drip-by-drip process can steadily harm structural materials in the house and eventually become an issue in living spaces below. Here are six common risks associated with a leaky roof:

You’ll find out too late. Unless you regularly inspect your attic for signs of leaks—or hang out up there during heavy rain—intermittent roof leakage may recur silently over an extended period before you become aware of it downstairs. By then, significant damage may be a fait accompli.

Wet insulation won’t insulate. Water-soaked insulation loses its heat-resistance qualities. Cellulose loose-fill is usually permanently ruined. Fiberglass batts can be dried out if removed, but this must occur quickly before mold growth spawns inside the fibers.

Mold contamination is a sure thing. Dark and dusty attic, microscopic spores, dribbling roof leaks: It’s mold nirvana. Prepare for widespread contamination as mold growth in a wet attic frequently spreads down into living spaces.

Fire is a possibility. Electrical components present in the attic including wiring, junction boxes and ceiling light fixtures aren’t waterproof in any way. Water + electricity = short circuits that cause fires.  

Homeowner’s insurance won’t compensate you. Unless the leak is caused by a single event occurring recently, long-term unrepaired roof leakage—and any indoor water damage associated with it—is usually classified as negligence and not compensated under the terms of a standard homeowner’s policy.

You’ll fall off the roof. Any issues associated with exterior roof materials should be handled by an experienced roofing professional qualified to climb up there, identify incipient leakage and/or repair any existing leaks safely. If you’re not one, call a roofer to handle it.

How a Roof Inspection Can Save You Money and When You Might Need One

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

roof inspectorsWhen it comes to the condition of your roof, ignorance is not bliss. Left unaddressed, almost any roof issue eventually morphs into a major expense down the road. Roof life expectancy as well as prevention of secondary damage from roof leaks relies on regular inspections by a qualified professional and prompt repair of incipient defects.

How Often?

In general, a roof with asphalt or composite shingles should get a professional inspection every three years. Same goes for wood shingle roofs like cedar. Tile roofs are more resistant and can usually go for five years between check-ups.

Caveat: if severe storms with high winds and/or heavy rain have occurred, or events like a falling limb striking the roof happened, have the roof checked ASAP

Why Not Do It Yourself?

  • It’s dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control reports that over 150,000 severe injuries occur annually from falling off residential roofs.
  • You probably aren’t qualified. Components of a residential roof include roofing material, sheathing, underlayment, flashing, gutters and downspouts and vents and chimneys. There’s a lot more to go wrong than meets the untrained eye—or the homeowner on the ground with binoculars.

How Inspections Save Money

Roof leaks typically trigger a domino effect of indoor water damage. An inspection by a qualified professional identifies roof issues before they inflict major expenses including:

  • Structural damage. With the exception of shingles, all other parts of the house structure are vulnerable to water infiltration due to insidious leaks. This includes the sheathing beneath shingles and extends down into wooden attic structure including trusses and rafters. Rotted wooden components can’t be repaired; expensive replacement is required.
  • Mold contamination. Growth of toxic mold inside an attic affected by roof leakage is virtually a certainty. Health consequences that may affect residents can require costly medical diagnosis. Covert mold growth inside an attic will also spread to other parts of the house, making contamination more widespread and costly to remediate.
  • Insurance woes. If damage caused by ongoing roof leaks results from a homeowner’s negligence—such as not resolving roof issues promptly—homeowners insurance may not compensate for the cost of repairs.


4 Tips For Preventing Attic Water Damage

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

attic water damageAttic water damage has several potential causes. It usually has multiple consequences, as well. A single incident of attic water damage may necessitate any or all of the following: roof repair, replacement of attic beams, removal of ruined insulation, repair of damaged sheetrock in ceilings below, replacement of carpet or other interior items affected by water, and mold remediation to remove toxic contamination inside the attic.

Prevention tips

Attic water damage can originate from above, below, or from sources inside the attic itself. Here are four tips to prevent it:

  1. Inspect the roof. Rain water seeps behind split shingles or through leaky flashing. Dripping inside the attic may occur some distance from the actual roof leak however, as water travels along the sub-roof panels and/or attic beams. Dark streaks on the underside of the sub-roof are one indicator of ongoing leakage.
  2. Prevent ruptured pipes. Water supply lines are often routed through the attic. In unconditioned attics, frigid winter temperatures can rupture pipes. Insulate all exposed attic pipes to prevent freezing. Inspect for evidence of pinhole leaks as well as seepage around joints. Refer any signs of leakage to a qualified plumber.
  3. Control condensation. Water vapor chronically infiltrating from living spaces below accumulates in the attic. Make sure soffit vents and roof vents are unobstructed to optimize passive air circulation. If condensation issues persist, consider adding a powered vent fan at the roof peak. To reduce infiltrating water vapor, seal air leaks in ceilings, around recessed lights and weatherstrip the attic access hatch/door.
  4. Maintain attic appliances. In some homes, the water heater is installed in the attic. Flushing the water heater tank regularly per manufacturer’s instructions reduces chances of attic water damage due to tank corrosion and leakage. Where the central A/C air handler is mounted in the attic, a clogged condensate drain line may trigger an overflow. An overflow safety switch can be installed to automatically shut down the unit before water damage occurs.

Taking time to inspect your attic periodically and do some routine maintenance can prevent a costly repair bill later.

Why You Need To Deal With A Leaky Roof As Soon As Possible…

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

leaky roof damageA leaky roof never gets better by itself. In fact, once water penetrates the roof membrane, things get steadily worse with every rainfall. First, leakage damages roof decking, seams, and fasteners, compromising the structure of the roof. At this point, unless you are regularly inspecting the outside or underside of the roof, you may have no idea that a leak is occurring. Soon, however, the signs will become much harder to miss.

Reasons to keep an eye on your roof for leaks

Here are some reasons why a leaky roof must be addressed ASAP:

  • Once water-saturated wooden structure inside the attic begins to rot, there will be no remedy other than removal and replacement of these constituents, which means substantial and expensive construction work.
  • Mold growth inside a chronically wet attic is not merely probable, it is presumptive. Airborne mold spores will contaminate living spaces below through the HVAC ducts or vents, spreading mold throughout the house.
  • Electrical wiring, junction boxes, recessed ceiling lights, and other powered components in the attic are often ruined by water exposure. They may also short circuit when wet, causing potential fire and shock hazard danger.
  • Water degrades two common types of attic insulation. Water-saturated cellulose insulation will not dry and must be removed and discarded. While fiberglass insulation doesn’t absorb water and will eventually dry (thermal performance of the material will be substantially reduced during this period), moisture may still trigger mold growth inside the insulation. Moldy insulation must be removed and replaced.
  • After insulation, the downward migration of water from a leaky roof has one more place to go: your ceiling. Ceilings affected by roof leakage first exhibit water stains. As drywall that composes the ceiling becomes increasingly saturated, it may sag and eventually collapse.
  • Homeowner’s insurance typically pays for water damage due to a leaky roof only if leakage is recognized and dealt with in a timely manner. If a homeowner ignores stains on the ceiling or other conspicuous indications of water in the attic and delays repair, coverage may be denied.


Ice Dams: How Water Flows Uphill

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

ice damIce dams on your roof result from unsuspected causes and cause unexpected damage. The connection between those mounds of ice along the eaves of the roof and the temperature inside your attic may not be obvious. Likewise, the mechanism of how a line of ice way up there can trigger roof leakage and serious water damage down inside the house is often hard to understand. Here’s how the process behind ice dams works.

  • Snowfall usually covers your roof evenly. However, it may not melt that way. Household heat migrating into the attic rises up to the area beneath the peak of the roof. This concentration of heat warms the underside of the roof near the peak, while the rest of the roof below remains in a frigid, frozen state.
  • Water from snow melting at the warmer upper part of the roof runs down to the lower, frozen area of the roof at the eaves and rapidly re-freezes. This gradually forms a barrier called an ice dam that prevents roof runoff from entering the gutters. As snow-melt and runoff increases, water gradually backs up on the roof.
  • Roofing shingles are designed to resist water in motion running down the roof and into the gutters. They are not designed to resist pools of standing water. Pooling water infiltrates behind the shingles, penetrates the joints between roof sheathing and leaks into the attic.
  • Attic insulation becomes soaked, degrading its insulating effectiveness, and providing an excellent breeding ground for toxic mold. Wooden attic structure is also saturated. Roof leakage finally drips down through the ceiling into living spaces and water damage occurs inside the house.

Prevent ice dams by keeping attic temperatures uniformly cold. Make sure attic vents are open. Keep household heat out of the attic by sealing cracks in the ceiling and gaps around light fixtures and pipes that pass through the ceiling. To minimize heat energy infiltrating the attic, also make sure depth of your attic insulation meets current Department Of Energy standards.

For more on preventing ice dams and resolving water damage that results, contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc.


Safety Issues From a Leaking Roof

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

A leaking roof can be an expensive nuisance. Most leaks aren’t evident by simply visually inspecting the exterior of the roof. Costly interior damage from roof leaks is often already done by the time you realize there’s a problem in the first place. However, a leaking roof can also present safety issues, in addition to the obvious dangers of climbing up there and attempting to repair the leak yourself (not a recommended DIY project).  Here are some of the safety hazards associated with a leaking roof.

leaking roofFire and electrical hazards: Household wiring is routed through the attic; recessed ceiling lights, some HVAC equipment and other electrical devices are also often present. Dripping water and electricity don’t mix. While the danger of electrocution is one hazard, a more likely consequence of a leaking roof might be fire resulting from an electrical short caused by exposure to water. If you note any signs of a leaky roof, such as a stained ceiling or water dripping into living spaces, turn off electricity at the main panel and call a qualified electrician and roofing company.

Mold contamination: The slow drip of roof leaks into a dark, warm attic provides the trigger mechanism for toxic mold growth that requires only a source of moisture to activate. Insulation installed in the attic such as fiberglass batts and blown-in cellulose remain chronically damp from roof leaks, a perfect growing environment for mold. Contamination in the attic soon spreads throughout living spaces below as millions of airborne mold spores are reproduced. Occupants of the home may experience allergic reactions and chronic illness as a result of continuous exposure to active mold spores.

Structural damage: Wooden building materials in the attic such as studs and ceiling joists form a critical part of your home’s structure. Continuous exposure to water from roof leaks causes wood rot and eventual failure of these components. Safety issues such as a potential ceiling collapse or an attic that’s unsafe to enter may be the result.

Contact Rytech, Inc. for more information about safety issues and solutions.

8 Mold Prevention Tips to Keep Your Home Healthy and Safe

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

While mold remediation after the fact is a job for a skilled professional, household mold prevention is largely up to you. Stopping mold growth before it happens is the preferred scenario and by far the most cost-efficient option. Dormant mold spores are everywhere, but they remain inert unless certain cons exist. Effective mold prevention means intervening to eliminate those conditions before active growth occurs.  Here are 8 things you can do yourself.


Suspect a Leaky Roof? Avoid More Than Just Water Damage and Get it Fixed

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

leaky roofA leaky roof often gives no warning and few signs. Water leakage into an attic can proceed silently, unnoticed by homeowners until significant damage is done. Water stains on the ceiling—or worse, collapsing ceiling segments—are literally the last sign of a leaky roof.  By then, layers of attic insulation are water-soaked and permanently ruined and any possessions stored in the attic are damaged. Here’s why a leaky roof must be repaired sooner, not later: (more…)