Inspect your roof for leaks before next rainy season arrives
Nov 18, 2021, 3:00 PM
If you made it through Monsoon 2021 without severe roof damage or leaks, consider yourself lucky. Thousands of Arizona homeowners were not.
Because of the unprecedented backlog of calls, many homeowners are still waiting for their roofs to be repaired. Because February and March historically prove to be our second wet season, let’s get ready now!
Shoddy shingles: When a roof starts to leak and absorb water, its shingles may start to bulge, warp, or buckle. If you see roof granules on the ground, you are overdue for an inspection.
Ceiling spots: When a roof leak becomes severe, you may start to notice water spots on the ceiling. If you find that your ceiling has stains, discolorations, or other signs of water damage, a leaking roof could be the source of the issue.
Mold and algae: Mold requires moisture and humidity to grow. When your roof starts to leak, you may notice mold growth on the surface of your roofing shingles or throughout your interior spaces.
But what if you don’t see any of that? Does it mean you are in the clear? Nope. There are other places to look for damage.
Hide and seek
Crawl spaces and attics: Leaks often appear in the attic and garage where you have a storage area above the finished area. Water staining may be visible there and nowhere else. When the roofing system above these areas begins to fail, it’s not always obvious because you haven’t yet seen any of the interior signs until a significant amount of water has penetrated to the area below.
If you can access the space, inspect it with a high-powered flashlight illuminating the beams. Look for water stained, discolored wood. Call a professional roofing company if you cannot access the area or are unsure what you are looking for.
Note: Not every roofing company will crawl into the attic space. Confirm the areas they are willing to access before scheduling the appointment.
Roof leak causes and prevention
Standing water and sun: Sun-heated, standing water on flat roofs creates a drainage problem. When water cannot drain off, the saturated roof material can deteriorate and water can enter the structure, causing more damage.
Prevention – Make sure the roof system is watertight and there are adequate drainage routes, no bird baths or ponding of water.
Clogged drainage routes: Remove debris such as leaves, branches, dead critters, and bird droppings from your roof, particularly in the valleys where they tend to gather. Debris will prevent the flow of water and decay the roof’s surface.
Prevention – Have your roof inspected annually to check and empty drains to ensure effective water drainage.
Extreme weather fluctuations: Rapid temperature changes can cause the roof to first expand in the heat and contract with the cold. These movements in the roof can cause elements in the roof system to crack, separate, and become loose.
Prevention – On a flat roof, a reflective coating can help minimize the effect of temperature changes by keeping the temperature of the roof more consistent.
If a tile roof is more than 15 years old, the underlayment will need to be inspected by a professional. Lyons Roofing notes that an inspection should include the following:
A check of the roof’s surface for cracked, loose, or slipped tiles. It is important to protect the waterproofing underlayment component of your tile roof system.
A check of the sealant around all penetrations (pipes, skylights, ductwork, etc.) looking for cracked sealants– repair as needed.
A check of the home’s perimeter for signs of leaks. Rotted wood fascia and peeling paint is a symptom of a problem, not a problem itself, don’t repaint until you are sure.
Anytime you find a leak, call for a free roof inspection. If there are no telltale signs of damage, schedule a visit for May, before the monsoons arrive. You will want that wiggle room in case the roofing company finds an issue.
Important note: If your home or roof is fairly new, be sure that any work performed will not void its warranty.
Join Rosie on the House every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions and comments.