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Common Roofing Problems, Areas to inspect, & Roofing Care

Watching for the 10 most common roof problems can save you significant money. Catching damage early and repairing it can save you the cost of a complete roof replacement.


Here are the 10 most common problems to be on the lookout for…

1. Poor or Faulty Installation A faulty installation of your roofing material can dramatically increase the likelihood of problems and reduce a roof system’s life expectancy. A roofing professional can tell you if your roof has been installed correctly.

2. Leaks and Moisture Wind, rain, hail, snow, ice, and debris- can all lead to moisture getting under the layers of your roof and cause everything from leaks to mold, and rot.

3. Improperly Installed Flashing Flashing is what seals the areas where your roof has been penetrated- vent pipes, sky lights, chimneys and heating and cooling systems. When flashing is poorly attached, it can cause open seams and laps and ultimately cause tiles to blow off. Improperly installed flashing can also reduce puncture resistance in your roof.

4. Critters


Small animals, birds and insects can cause a surprising amount of damage. It’s best to evict them before they get a foothold.



5. Ponding Water Water that ponds or stands on your roof is a sure sign of a problem. Common causes range from debris buildup to improper drainage of HVAC units and gutters.

6. Punctures and Penetrations Wind and hail damage can cause punctures in roofing material. The sealant and flashing around penetrations (such as vents for household appliances and HVAC) added after the roofing was completed need to be looked at regularly.

7. Trees


Overhanging tree limbs can rub on a roof, abrading the surface of the shingles and wear away the protective top layer. Branches can also fall on the roof creating even more serious damage. Tree limbs should be trimmed back away from the roof as much as possible and if a tree is close enough to pose a threat to your home, it should be removed.

8. Ventilation Roof and attic ventilation is an integral part of making a roof last, and occurs naturally when vents are placed at the base of the roof (at the eaves or in the soffits) and near the top of the roof (the ridge) so that warm air can leave through the top, and cool air can be drawn through the bottom. Since warm air naturally rises, no mechanical process is necessary to create this air movement. Adequate ventilation regulates temperature and moisture levels in the attic. Left unchecked, heat and moisture can build up causing damage to rafters, sheathing, shingles, insulation, and raise energy costs. Poor ventilation may also lead to some ugly mold and mildew problems.

9. Shrinkage and Blistering Shrinkage is caused when the roof membrane (the stuff under the tiles or shingles) shrinks, most often causing cracks or crazing in the upper layer. Blistering, ridging, splitting, and surface erosion of shingles can eventually lead to bigger problems.

10. Improper or Lack of Maintenance Lack of roof maintenance is probably a roof’s worst enemy. Many problems start out as minor, such as the need to remove overhanging tree limbs or cleaning backed up gutters. But when not corrected these problems can create serious damage. Routine inspection and maintenance can extend the life of your roof and that can save you a lot of money.



RECOGNIZING THE SIGNS OF A ROOF PROBLEM

If it’s been a while since you’ve had your roof inspected, your first priority should be to identify and fix any major problems.

Signs of serious problems may be apparent even from inside the building. Water stains on a ceiling may signal a leak, which can be caused by a crack or hole in the roof. It’s important to understand that even the smallest leak can be a sign of big trouble. Similarly, if the building has unexplained mold or odors inside, this may indicate a roof leak resulting in water penetration. While internal water damage or mold may signal trouble above, it’s also important to visually inspect the roof itself to look for problems that are likely to worsen over time.

Something as simple as walking on your roof can cause damage. Many roofers install walkways with a double layer of roofing materials to allow access to HVAC or other areas in order to prevent damage.

Depending on the slope of the roof and the ease of access, inspections sometimes can be done by the building owner, but in many cases, it makes sense to hire a contractor to make sure the job is done safely and correctly. Even if you are hiring a professional, reviewing the problems identified in this article may help you to understand the significance of what he or she has identified and the need for action.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE ROOF—SOME VISUAL CLUES

Prolonged standing water (see below) or ponding on the roof can lead to premature aging and deterioration of the cover, which will lead to leaks. Leaks that go undetected can slowly rust steel roof decks, rot wood decks, and turn lightweight insulating concrete and gypsum decks into a thick paste like substance. Additionally, excessive standing water can lead to significant additional weight, which can weaken the roof deck.


Bubbles (see below) may indicate trapped moisture within the roof cover, which can lead to leaks, reduce the lifespan of the cover, speed up premature aging of the deck, and reduce the roof cover system’s effectiveness against uplift forces associated with a windstorm. Another cause of bubbles is the release of gasses from insulation boards that get trapped below the cover. A roof cut or moisture survey of the roof cover.



Roof flashing is the strips of metal or other impervious material installed around the perimeter of the roof edge where the roof cover meets the wall. It is also installed around objects (such as rooftop equipment) that protrude from the roof in order to deflect water away from seams and joints. However, a gap in the flashing or roof cover perimeter (see below) greatly increases the potential for roof cover failure during a high wind event and water intrusion or mold.


Tears in the roof cover (see below), or worn or cracking seams, can allow water to enter below the cover.



ADDITIONAL AREAS FOR INSPECTION

If there is a lightning protection system (see below), check to see if it is loose or detached as shown below. This can lead to a tear or puncture in the roof covering, especially during


strong winds. A lightning protection system that has disconnected metal cables or aerials is no longer capable of providing the intended protection for the building’s occupants.

If there are skylights (see below), they should be checked for securement. Skylights that are not well sealed and secured around the frame’s edge can leak, which may cause the skylights to become dislodged and allow for wind driven rain and debris to enter the building, especially during a high wind event. Also, over time the plastic domed panels can become brittle and very susceptible to cracks.


CARE AND MAINTENANCE

The best way to avoid roof-related problems and strengthen weather resistance is through regular care and preventive maintenance. Scheduling inspections every 6 months (fall and spring) is an effective way to avoid roof-related issues. Proper maintenance prolongs the life of a roof and in many instances will allow for “repair” instead of “replacement” when a problem is identified. The frequency of inspections for routine maintenance depends on several factors, including the age of the roof, recent weather events, rooftop foot traffic, and conditions identified during previous inspections.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • All inspections should look for and develop a repair plan for the items that indicate signs of problems described above.

  • After a severe windstorm or hurricane, inspect your roof for damage, as repeated storms can reduce the strength of the roof.

  • Inspections should look for signs of previous leaks or other problems to make sure that repairs have stayed intact.

  • Remove any loose objects and accumulated debris. A clean roof eliminates leaves and other materials that have a tendency to hold moisture, which can speed up the deterioration of the roofing materials. In dry areas, keeping the roof clear of debris reduces the risk that embers from a wildfire will ignite the roof.

  • Keep trees trimmed. This prevents branches from rubbing against the roof and leaves from accumulating on the roof and clogging drains and gutters.

  • Check gutters and downspouts for leaves, twigs and other debris that will inhibit proper drainage.

  • If located in a hurricane prone area, check if the gutters include gutter straps designed to resist uplift.

  • Inspect rooftop vents and equipment to make sure they are well sealed. Seal any gaps with flashing cement. Replacement may be necessary if the metal flashing is badly deteriorated, or if vents can wiggle back and forth.

  • After a hail event with hailstones larger than ¾ inch, contact your insurer and have the roof inspected even if you are not aware of any damage.

  • Consulting a professional roofing contractor may be helpful if concerns exist after a maintenance review of the roof. The contractor can also help to determine the health of the roof, estimate the remaining life of the roof, help you develop a maintenance plan, and identify additional steps to protect the roof.

If you have existing damage or are interested in an inspection, give Prime Home Improvement a call and we will help you through the process- (443) 232-1776.

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