Moving into a new home can be an exciting new adventure. However, many new homeowners often don’t realize that their new dream home can quickly turn into an unexpected (sometimes expensive) repair bill. Maintenance work around the home can be costly if the problems are not spotted early on. One example of this type of scenario would be issues with your roof, especially a flat roof. Rooftops are one of the most overlooked aspects of a home inspection, yet it happens to be one of the most important aspects you should be keeping an eye out for.
Coming home only to realize that you’ve got a leaky roof can be inconvenient and frustrating. Not only are the left behind stains, water patches, and mold unsightly, they are also difficult to repair. Nevertheless, the signs of a leaking roof are not something you should ignore, as even a small leak could be an indication of a more serious underlying problem. Once you suspect you’ve got a leaky roof problem, it’s time to act quickly before the problem gets worse.
What Is a Flat Roof?
A flat roof is a form of roof that rests horizontally atop a building. While this form of rooftop is economical and straightforward enough to build, the difficulty is that they can be difficult to waterproof. This implies they are prone to leaks over time, since flat roofs tend to pool water on top of the roof. The water that collects eventually has to flow someplace, and that “somewhere” is directly through your roof.
The Telltale Signs of a Leak
In average, your roof should endure anywhere from 20 to 50 years. Of course, ultimately, the natural elements, weather, and time are going to take their toll on your roof. It is inevitable. Moisture may be exceedingly harmful, and the problem is that even the tiniest holes and cracks are often enough to serve as an entry point. Yes, a hairline gap is sometimes all it takes for moisture to sneak in and thus begin the process of water collection.
Inside the home, it is much easier to notice the evidence of a roof leak. Is it possible to identify a roof leak before it happens? Yes, it is. Besides the apparent damp patch that will be leaving a significant stain on your ceiling, one of the ways you discover a problem in the house, is by inspecting the attic for water stains on the plywood and trusses. Once on the roof, examining your nails would be next. That’s true, if you detect corroded nails along your roof or shingles, that should be warning you something. When you uncover a corroded nail, that’s your first clue that your roof needs a closer inspection. A rusty nail is also an indicator that you are near to the source of the leak. Lift your shingle, and you may very well locate the cause of the leak.
As for the stain on the ceiling, the extent of the stain will depend on how much water gathered before you stopped the leak and the level of saturation the ceiling endured overall. Another indoor indication to be cautious of is rotting wood beams or mold in your insulation.
Once you’ve noticed an issue inside your home, you are sure to find telltale symptoms on the outside as well. You probably never noticed the indications before because you don’t spend a lot of time looking closely at your roof. Look around outside your home, though, and the indications you may notice include shingles that are buckling, broken, loose, or curling. If your roof happens to be a bit more patchwork, you should be paying especially greater care because these types of rooftops are prone to gaps. Gaps make it easy for moisture to go down into your rafters and accumulate anywhere in your attic or any crawlspace region around your home.
Locating the Source of The Leak
The first step is to determine the source of your difficulties. Where is the source of the leak? Unfortunately, it is frequently not as simple as detecting the damp patch because the actual leaks are often not in the same spot. With a flat roof, this can be a little hard. The source of the leak can often be identified to the place underneath your roof deck. Another difficulty with the flat roof is that you could have a problem that is shown in Point A, but it turns out the root of the problem is actually in Point B. Point B could be up to 20 feet away.
Water can flow down from different spots around the home and straight through your insulation before it ends up producing a weak spot anywhere in your ceiling. That is why once you detect the leak on the ceiling; your following action should be to take a walk outside your home. Conduct a visual assessment of your roof to identify the sections that could potentially be the problem. You will also want to keep an eye out for any evident evidence of penetration on the roof. Damaged roof tiles, or corrugated shingles are some of the red flags to keep a watch out for.
Once you’ve done a fast check around the outside of your property, you’ll want to inspect the inside of your roof. Search the ceiling for signs of paint peeling, brown, grey, or yellow stains, or other apparent symptoms of dampness. If you have access to it, grab your flashlight and have a peak inside your attic or roof space.
The optimum time to seek for the source of your roof leak would be during the day. If the weather has been dry the last day or two moist spots and traces of stains or watermarks will be much easier to locate.
How long may a leaking roof be neglected before it worsens?
A leaky roof is one of those issues that need immediate attention. If you allow the issue to persist, it will pave the way for more problems such as mildew, rotting wood, and mold. Frequently, you won’t know the magnitude of the harm until it’s too late. In turn, a major problem will result in increased repair expenses because the job will be significantly more complex than if it had been addressed promptly. Not to mention that both mold and mildew are hazardous to your health, potentially triggering a multitude of avoidable health issues.
Water damage to ceilings is an extremely expensive repair. Once you discover a roof leak, you must take action and immediately contact a trained specialist. They are in the best position to assist you in resolving the matter before it becomes unmanageable.
Roofing Maintenance to Prevent Leaking
You need not wait till your roof springs a leak before taking action. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the adage goes. This is what you can do to safeguard your roof and stay ahead of the roof repair game:
Check the House Records
If you’re moving into a property that wasn’t constructed lately, you should check the home’s old documents to see when the roof was last fixed. Many older roofs were erected with materials that do not last as long, and installation instructions from manufacturers and building requirements have evolved over time. Check the house’s records before completing the move-in. If it has been a while since the roof of your home was last repaired, inspect it yourself or hire an expert to do so. If extensive repairs are necessary, it is generally simpler to do this before moving in all of your furnishings.
Inspect Your Shingles
However, rotting nails are not the only sign that your shingles are failing. Walk outside your home occasionally and inspect the shingles. Your roof should be covered with problem-free shingles that are laid flat. If they are cracked or displaying other symptoms of damage, it is time to replace the roof. Few house inspectors actually walk on roofs, thus the exact state of your roof cannot be assessed unless a roof inspector inspects it up close.
Check Your Paint for Water Stains
Inside your closets, peeling paint is the most obvious indication of roof concerns. Peeling paint in rooms where peeling shouldn’t occur is an indication of something else, despite the fact that it is easy to dismiss it as a sign of “old age” If your room has a skylight or is one that does not often retain a great deal of moisture, the peeling paint is attempting to tell you something. It is time to inspect your roof for damage.
Check the Seals on The Roof
Regular inspections should be performed on the home’s skylights, vents, and chimney seals. Take a quick look at your roof vents to identify any cracks. Caulking is typically a temporary remedy, not a permanent repair. You will still need to get those cracks permanently repaired before a large storm causes your roof vents to crack again. Immediately contact a professional if you discover large gaps in your seams.
Inspect Your Attic
As the location nearest to the roof, the attic is another location that should be inspected periodically. If you notice water stains going from the ceiling to the wall, it is a sign that there is an issue with your roof; therefore, you should act quickly. A small leak is sufficient to snowball into a larger issue. The faster you fix it, the lower your repair costs will be. Avoid allowing it to progress to the point where mold has begun to degrade your insulation.
Check for Signs of Sagging Plywood
Did you know that when your roof is damaged, it might droop or sag? This is the effect of water damage on the item. When walking around your property, take a few steps back and observe it from a greater distance. Does your roof appear to be drooping at any point? This might be difficult to determine up close, therefore the greater the distance from which you can examine your roof, the better.
Check for Moss, Mold, or Fungi
While inspecting the perimeter of your roof, you should be on the lookout for moss, mold, and fungi. Pay particular attention to the roof corners that spend the most of their time in the shade. Moss, mold, and fungi flourish in a moist and damp environment, and they will grow on a roof that retains water and moisture.
Check Your Soffits
Your soffits contribute to the airflow that moves warm air from the attic to the exterior of the house. Your soffit vents should be free of obstructions to prevent moisture accumulation. When you are in your attic, you should be able to see light coming through the soffits. This indicates that air can enter your attic, which is exactly what you want. Next, you must ensure that the air has a way to leave, such as through a ridge vent or an attic fan.
If You’re Bouncing, Your Roof Needs Repairing
If you were to walk on your roof and detect a spring in your step, this should not be the case. A “bouncy” roof indicates that something is wrong and likely requires repair. A roof that absorbs moisture will become spongy over time, indicating that the humidity has deteriorated its surface.
Look Out for Rusty Gutters
Rusted gutters indicate that your roof likely has a leak someplace. If your gutters are beginning to leak, it could be because the rust has weakened the seams. The seams may also eventually separate due to the natural expansion and contraction that occurs over time.