What Can Go Wrong If Your Roof Is Having Issues?
What is your home’s first line of defense against the extremely problematic issue of water intrusion? Many folks may say the foundation, sump pump, or gutters, but it’s actually your roof!
Your roof is usually the first thing that the rain touches as it starts to fall. If your roof is having issues, not only could it rain inside your home, but it could quickly turn into an indoor downpour!
You may not realize just how much water your roof usually protects your house from, so let’s put it in perspective. A small, 1,000-square-foot roof during a 1” rainfall event is going to have approximately 623 gallons of water running over it during the course of the storm! If you have a large roof or a larger storm, then even more water will be flowing over your house’s roofing system. That’s a lot of water that your roof is protecting you from! If you have roof damage that leads to a leak, those hundreds of gallons of water could be very problematic if they start flowing into your home instead of over it.
So what’s the big deal if your roof has a little (or not so little) leak?
Five Common Issues a Leaking Roof Can Cause
- Rotted Roof Decking – If part of your roof is damaged, the first thing that will usually happen is the roof decking (the plywood portion of your roof) will get saturated with water and eventually begin to rot. Once the plywood rots, it begins to sag, creating a dip in the roof which gathers sitting water. Over time, that rot and sitting water will most likely make its way inside your attic space. Not only can that create a host of issues in your attic space and below, but the rotted plywood will also have to be removed and replaced. And, let’s face it, the price of wood these days just isn’t what it used to be. Damage to your roof decking can add some extra cost to your roof repairs, sometimes a hefty amount of extra costs if multiple sheets of plywood are damaged, and most of us would love to avoid extra costs when we can. If you become aware of an active leak and are able to identify its location in your attic space, place a bucket or some kind of container under the drip to catch the water and prevent further damage until you can have a local, trusted roofing contractor out to properly fix your roof.
- Rotted Trusses – If the roof damage has allowed the water to get past the roof decking, there is a good chance that it is going to start damaging your roof trusses. The trusses are the vertical beams that make up the triangular structure of your roof. If these begin to rot, then it becomes a hazardous structural issue for the roof and is a much more expensive fix. And, as we said before, we certainly want to avoid putting out any more money than necessary for, well, anything.
- Insulation Damage – If your roof is leaking and the water has made its way through the plywood roof decking (hopefully missing your roof trusses) then the next victim of the leak is your home’s insulation. When insulation becomes wet, it turns a brownish color and clumps together. This causes the insulation not to perform properly to keep your home, well insulated. If the water has saturated the insulation enough, then it will have to be removed and replaced in the affected area once your leak is resolved but by that time the water has probably made its way even farther into your home.
- Ceiling Damage – When the water has made its way past your insulation its next stop is your ceiling. You will notice brown spots, water dripping, or in more severe cases mold growth on your ceiling drywall. At a minimum, the damaged area will have to be dried, sealed, and painted, but if mold has begun to grow or the water has broken through the ceiling, then the drywall will need to be cut out and replaced. Again, more money is down the drain that we don’t want to have to spend. The good news about water stains on your ceiling is that in most cases we have a nice accessible space (the attic) to see if any mold or mildew has begun growing above the affected area. If the water continues to make its way downhill and drips down behind the walls, it can be a bit more expensive to take a peek behind the wall to make sure mold and mildew haven’t formed.
- Wall Damage – Water damage to your walls usually looks the same as water damage to the ceiling. If it is caught early enough, then it can usually just be sealed and painted. The real pain comes in when the leak has been ongoing without being noticed or fixed for an extended period. Unlike the ceiling where the back of the drywall can be seen from the open attic space, a more exploratory approach has to be taken to inspect behind your walls. The drywall will have to be removed in order to check for mold or mildew damage and then replaced after it has been treated or found to be free and clear of mold/mildew.
While these five signs of water damage are things you can look out for inside your home, we always recommend being as proactive as possible by regularly taking a look at your roof for these damage warning signs before they grow to become big problems. A routine visual inspection can be as simple as just taking a look up at your roof when you’re out cutting the grass or remembering to glance up from the driveway when you’re getting home from the kids’ sports practice to see if you notice any signs of roof damage.
If you do notice any areas of concern from the ground, or if you think you may have an issue, contact a trusted, local roofing contractor as soon as you can to schedule a thorough inspection of your roof.