14 Roof Problems

Roof Repair Issues

The list of things that can make a roof go bad is long.

Of course, your particular roof issue may depend on the type of roof you have. Wood material roofing will have different issues compared to tile or slate roofs.

That noted, we’ve put together a list of fourteen common roof problems below:

Typical Roof Problems

1. Leaks – Roof leaks can arise for a number of reasons. Joints are one problem area. Flashing is another. Weather damage resulting from hail, fallen limbs, or other hazards can lead to leaks, as can animal damage. Leaks can lead to wood rotting and create an environment where mold can develop.

2. Installation Issues – An expert in one type of roofing may not be qualified to work in another. Poor workmanship from a low-quality contractor can lead to headaches down the road.

3. Storm Damage – High winds can blow off shingles, as well as roof sheathing and felt. Hail is another culprit creating problems for shingles, slate, tile or shake roofs.

4. Cold Weather Damage – A category of its own, winter weather can create ice and snow-related issues for roofs. Melting frozen precipitation can find its way below shingles and flashing, then re-freeze and lift the roofing material, creating a larger gap for water to creep in. Ice damming in gutters can exacerbate this problem. Though uncommon, snow can collapse a roof.

5. Animal Damage – Birds, squirrels, raccoons, and even rats are among the roof-romping creatures that can drain your wallet in future roof repairs if they are given free rein. Animals can tear off and burrow through siding, soffit, and shingles as they seek entry into the drier, warmer areas of your home below. Chew damage from rodents is another potential problem, as are scratching and scuff marks from the feet of squirrels.

Animal Roof Damage
He’s got his eye on you…who knows what he’s up to up there. Animal damage can make your roof cry “uncle”

Birds pose their own variety of problem – nesting birds leaving droppings in one area can damage your roof surface due to acid in their excrement. Woodpeckers are specially equipped to create holes, and if they zero in on your abode, your roof may fall victim.

6. Flashing Issues – Flashing is material, often a variety of metal such as a steel, aluminum or copper, used to cover and seal gaps where water may seep in areas such as joints and edges, and where roofing material meets other elements such as chimneys, ventilation, pipes, and other components.  Gaps in flashing can worsen over time, allowing water to compromise the integrity of your roof.

7. Broken Shingles & Tiles – Cracks and breaks can happen to standard asphalt shingles, slate, and ceramic tiles. Walking on a roof without taking proper care can result in damage to slate and tile surfaces. Asphalt shingles can break, crack or tear due to the effects of heat and sun exposure, animal activity, falling tree limbs, or wind and storm damage.

Cracked Slate Roof
A cracked slate roof. While famed for its longevity, slate can be damaged when climbing on the roof.

8. Lost Shingles & Tiles – caused by wind, animals, or those meddling neighbor kids! Missing tiles and shingles should be replaced promptly to head off water-related issues to your roof’s sheathing and underlayment, plywood and eventually other parts of the home such as attic and rafters.

9. Punctures – Rubber roofing can be susceptible to puncture, as can other surfaces including asphalt shingles and other membrane type coverings such as thermoplastic roofs.

10. Damage to Soffit and Fascia – Fascia is the flat board covering that runs directly under the edge of the roof facing outward, and typically where gutters are attached. Soffit is the wood or metal that goes under the roof overhang. Fascia and Soffit combine to “box in” the area below the overhanging part of your roof. Soffit and fascia both can undergo water damage, often related to improperly maintained gutter systems. Clogged gutters can cause damage to both the fascia and the soffit underside leading to rotted wood.

11. Gutter-related issues – Clogged gutters and downspouts can create big problems that would otherwise be avoided with basic cleaning and maintenance. Besides rotting issues on the fascia and soffit resulting from gutter clogs, ice dams can more easily form in clogged gutters, resulting in water penetrating the home.

Clogged Gutter
De-clog these things! Backed up gutters can lead to big headaches

Clogged gutters can also lead to foundation damage when water is not directed away from the home’s foundation but rather spills over and pools around the home.

12. Ventilation Problems – Improper or missing ventilation can prevent heat from escaping from the attic, and allow cooler air to enter. Without this air flow, temperature goes unregulated and damage to shingles and other components can occur. Additionally, proper air flow through adequate ventilation helps prevent moisture from accumulating, which can otherwise lead to mildew and mold problems.

13. Moss, Mildew, Lichen, Fungus and Mold – Any of these foreign substances can grow and flourish under the right conditions, both on the roof and in some cases inside the structure of the home. As mentioned above, improper ventilation can lead to moist conditions allowing molds and mildews to develop. Some roof surfaces may be taken over by mosses and algae. Besides damaging a home’s appearance, these growths can hasten deterioration by holding moisture against a roof’s surface.

14. General Neglect – Proper maintenance is necessary. The need for–and kind of–maintenance will vary depending on your roof’s surface material. Out of sight is not out of mind–just because you don’t see any leaks or other problems, doesn’t mean your roof is in tip-top shape. A neglected roof’s appearance will suffer but more importantly otherwise avoidable expensive problems could be avoided with regular maintenance and inspections. The National Roofing Contractor’s Association (NRCA) recommends a twice-yearly inspection – in spring and autumn. Other sources suggest you can get by on a once a year inspection or even less often. While no one wants new hassles, uncovering an issue early may end up defending the pocketbook against an otherwise heavier hit due to an unresolved issue growing into a monster problem.

Flickr images- Squirrel on roof: Allen Sheffield; Cracked slate tile: Christopher Busta-Peck; Clogged gutter: Eric Schmuttenmaer

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