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Seven Ways a Roof Leak Can Damage Your Home

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

By the time you realize you have a roof leak, the damage may already be done. While an unfinished attic is often not considered a vulnerable part of the house, the fact is, roof leakage into an attic typically proceeds silently and unnoticed. By the time the problem finally becomes obvious in the living spaces below, severe long-term water damage to an attic and its contents may be substantial and the costs of remediation considerable.  

Checking out the roof and attic should be a part of regular home inspections.  Here are some of the consequences that may ensue from unresolved roof leaks:

  • Damaged sub-roof. The wood sheathing that forms the sub-roof in many homes is water-resistant but not waterproof.  Long-term roof leakage affecting the sub-roof may result in swelling, warping and rotting of the wooden sheets.
  • Interior structural deterioration. Wooden joists and rafters inside the attic are usually not waterproofed and are vulnerable to rot from continuous exposure to roof leaks.   
  • Toxic mold growth. Roof leaks provide the crucial missing ingredient—moisture—to spawn widespread mold growth inside the attic. Because microscopic airborne spores can easily migrate through tiny cracks and crevices, attic mold contamination frequently spreads down into living spaces.
  • Degraded attic insulation. The insulating properties of both fiberglass and cellulose loose-fill insulation are severely impaired by moisture. While fiberglass insulation may dry out over an extended period, soaked cellulose loose-fill is usually permanently ruined and must be removed and replaced.
  • Electrical issues. Wiring, junction boxes and the backside of ceiling light fixtures are exposed to water entering the attic through roof leaks. This moisture source not only deteriorates electrical components, but it can also result in short circuits and fire hazard. 
  • Ceiling damage. Water from roof leakage keeps moving downward, eventually soaking the ceiling in living spaces. This may first appear as ceiling stains that progresses to sagging as drywall ceiling panels absorb water like a sponge. In worst case scenarios, ceiling collapse may occur. 
  • No insurance compensation. Homeowner’s insurance policies typically classify long-term ongoing roof leakage as “negligence” and thus may not provide coverage for certain damage including items mentioned above.

Inspecting Your Home’s Roof After the Storm

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), about 10% of the over 100,000 storms that occur in the U.S. annually can be classified as severe storms that may cause property damage. The damage may result from high winds, hail, lightning strikes, flooding, or all of the above.

Since your roof bears most of the brunt, after the sun comes out again, it’s a good idea to know how it weathered the storm—before the next one strikes and damage is potentially multiplied. A basic visual roof inspection can usually provide enough information to know if a professional consultation is needed.

Note: If you’re not comfortable climbing up on the roof and/or lack the necessary equipment to do it safely, a reputable roofing contractor will usually provide an inspection at no charge.

Shingles

  • Look for entirely missing shingles, as well as any that are cracked, curled or ripped up from the surface of the roof.
  • Examine asphalt shingles for discolorations caused by hail. These usually show up as dark circular spots where asphalt granules have been dislodged by the impact of hailstones. These shingles will degrade more rapidly in sunlight and should be replaced.
  • Raised nail heads that secure shingles usually indicate that the shingle has been lifted up by high winds and may detach completely in the future.

Flashing

Metal flashing around vents, chimneys and other components that penetrate the roof diverts waters away and prevents leaks. Look for flashing that may have been bent or dislodged by wind or hail.

Debris

If remnants such as a large tree limb broken by high winds are found on the roof, impact damage to the roofing or sub-roof may be suspected.

Gutters

If gutters are sagging, this usually means they have clogged due to debris, and the weight of contained water from heavy rain is straining attachments, which may cause the gutters to give way.

In The Attic

Examine the underside of the plywood subroof for sagging due to structural weakness, as well as dark streaks that typically indicate roof leakage. Look for any signs of sunlight shining through the roof.

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.

 

What is a roof tarp and when is it needed?

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

roof tarpWhen you need emergency roof repair right now—but it’s not possible until later—a roof tarp is vital. A compromised roof structure, whether it happens due to heavy rain, high winds, hail or falling trees, exposes your house and its contents to the elements. Water damage, deterioration caused by ultraviolet sunlight, mold contamination and vermin and insect intrusion are part of the risk once a roof is opened up.

What’s A “Blue Roof”?

“Blue roof” is the slang term used by many public emergency agencies because the standard plastic tarp typically installed to cover roof damage after a hurricane or tornado is invariably bright blue. Most blue roofs are made of woven, UV-resistant poly that is 5 mils thick and coated for water and mildew resistance. Some include grommets to be tied to the roof while others are fabricated with thick hems to be nailed to wooden strips laid across the roof.

How Long Does It Last?

Since roof repair is often delayed during widespread damaging events and, once begun, is usually not completed in a single day, all or some portion of the tarp may remain in place for some time. However, roof tarps are not appropriate as a long-term alternative to a repaired roof. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) emphasizes that roof tarps are a temporary remedy only and should not be utilized for longer than 30 days.

Who Covers The Cost?

Most home insurance policies include language authorizing a homeowner to make “reasonable and necessary” temporary repairs immediately after a damaging incident in order to prevent further losses. This may include the expense of having a roof tarp professionally installed as an emergency measure. Contact your insurer and be sure to keep a receipt of all expenses incurred.

In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a program called “Operation Blue Roof” to supply free tarps for damaged roofs in widespread disaster areas such as the aftermath of a hurricane. The program is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers and actual installation of tarps is performed by contractors working with the Army.

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.

 

Preparing For Spring Rains: Prevent Water Damage By Inspecting Your Roof

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

damaged roof shinglesAn effective strategy to prevent water damage inside the house begins up on the roof. Exposed to all weather extremes, especially heavy spring and summer rains, a compromised roof structure is the first step in a sequence that leads to water infiltration into the attic and, finally, into living spaces below. Here’s a primer on inspecting the roof to prevent water damage before it becomes a major and costly issue.

Always take appropriate safety measures when accessing the roof. Don’t attempt it if the roof setting appears dangerous or you’re not confident that it can be safely inspected.

  • Assess the shingles. Look for shingles that are buckling, cracked or curled. These will allow water to seep into joints between sub-roofing sheets and eventually drip down into the attic. Also, look for algae or mold growing on shingles, particularly in shaded areas of the roof. This growth may deteriorate shingle materials and, over time, result in leakage.
  • Look for damaged flashing. Metal flashing installed around vent pipes, the chimney and other roof openings may loosen and dislodge over the years. This allows water flowing down the roof to penetrate around the opening and into the attic, eventually dripping into rooms below. Loose flashing can usually be repaired individually without removing large area of shingles.
  • Evaluate the gutters. Make sure gutters aren’t obstructed or pulling loose from their mountings. If you have asphalt shingles, take note if a large amount of asphalt granules are accumulating in the gutter. This is an indication that aging shingles are deteriorating.
  • Inspect the attic. Climb up into the attic and examine the underside of the sub-roof for water stains, wood rot or other indications of hidden leaks. Also, look for wet or moldy insulation caused by ongoing water infiltration. Note the status of attic vents: all should be unobstructed and fully open. An under-ventilated attic can overheat in summer, buckling the sub-roof and shingles and causing roof leakage.

Ask the professionals at Rytech, Inc. for more steps to prevent water damage from roof leaks.

 

Proper Roofing Maintenace to Prevent a Leaking Roof

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

leaky roofA leaking roof is the final and most obvious symptom of a roof that hasn’t been properly maintained. Roof leaks for the most part aren’t due to a sudden, isolated event. Typically they are the end result of a process of deterioration over an extended period of time. Because most of the roof is generally out of sight of a homeowner, it’s easy to remain oblivious to what’s going on up there. However, once a leaking roof ruins the attic structure and/or spawns toxic mold indoors—or water starts dripping down through ceilings into the living spaces—it will be hard to ignore.

Because of the safety hazard of working on a roof, major roof repair should be left to professionals. However, a do-it-yourself inspection and some minor fixes are possible if taken with great care and never in wet or icy conditions.

  • Look for shingles that are missing, broken or deformed. Most defective shingles can be replaced individually as a DIY procedure or the job can be done by a roofing contractor.
  • Be aware of signs of fungus growth on the roof. Moss or algae growth on a roof is common, especially in shaded areas. It’s also very destructive to shingles and other roof components. Installing lead or zinc fungus control strips prevents this damage.
  • Examine metal flashing around vent pipes and/or the chimney. If the caulking that seals the flashing has degraded, remove whatever is remaining and re-caulk.
  • Sweep off accumulated debris on the roof such as leaves. Rotting leaves and other organic matter accelerates the deterioration of shingles.
  • Trim away overhanging branches. Observe trees adjacent to the roof for any signs that the tree or a portion of it is likely to fall and impact the roof.
  • Keep gutters clear of leaves and other obstructions. Clogged gutters filled with water are extremely heavy and may over-stress the eaves where they are attached, eventually pulling loose and damaging that part of the roof.

To address water damage issues caused by a leaking roof—or more advice about how to avoid it—contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc.