A leaking roof can be a homeowner’s nightmare and the actual cause may come from any number of reasons. What you may see as the most obvious problem may not be, and fixing just that may not solve it. Leaks around chimneys can be especially challenging to diagnose properly as the exact reason for it is not always readily visible. There may be a visible primary problem, but there could also be underlying secondary issues. It takes a real experienced roofing expert to spot the exact causes of a leak and then fix it properly.
These are just some of the main reasons for a leaking roof:
- Flashing problems – Flashing refers to a thin piece of metal that is installed in joints and seams to prevent water from getting in. Flashing can be made from several different types of metal, copper is a very common one in older homes and churches. In the case of flashing around a chimney this can deteriorate and cause leaks. In such an instance the old metal would have to be removed and replaced with new hand-soldered flashings.
- Gutters – If a section of gutter near a chimney is not draining properly, the water may find its way inside and can appear to be a chimney leak. Cleaning out the gutters and downspouts regularly, re-lining box gutters or adjusting hanging gutters may be required to fix the problem. There are many different types of gutters made from a variety of materials. In some older homes you can even have the situation of having 2 or 3 different types on the same house!
- Flaws in the roofing materials – For a slate or tile roof, a missing or broken slate or tile can easily lead to a leak. For a tile roof, old, worn-out underlayment can be causing the issue. For an asphalt roof, the roof material itself may be beyond its service life. Storm damage is another common cause of leaks in any roof.
You really need an experienced roofer to inspect your roof yearly. Get them to look the roof and gutter system over to make sure it is doing the job it is designed to do. Copper gutters wear down over time and galvanized gutters can deteriorate and rust out. When gutters don’t drain rainwater and melting snow away properly water can back up under the roofing surface and cause hidden leaks. On a multi-storied home if the gutters overflow because of deterioration or back up water dripping onto the roof below can cause it to wear away faster than normal, resulting in a shorter service life of the roof.
Most professional roofing contractors offer free estimates to do an inspection. Their findings might locate a simple problem or there could be no problem at all. Fixing a minor problem now will save you the time, expense and heartache of dealing with a major problem later that can cause significant interior damage to your home.