Do I need a new roof?

Blog submitted by Prairie Home Roofing in Calgary

While there’s never a good time to discover a leaking roof, doing so in the middle of an Alberta winter makes an already unpleasant situation that much worse.  Having recently come out of a summer that was warmer than usual and mostly dry, it is entirely possible to have missed early signs of a leak in your roof.

While the most obvious sign of a leak is water dripping, this is actually a symptom that comes up later, generally indicative of an issue that has been ongoing for quite some time, often unnoticed.  To help you discover a more subtle leak, here are some warning signs or indications of an existent or impending leak.  Hopefully, these will help you discover a problem before it escalates to the point of water pouring into your home.

The earliest signs of upcoming leaks are visible on the exterior of your home, on the roof itself.  If you’re concerned about possible issues, it might be worth looking around outside before we get too deep into the cold winter weather.

Signs you need a new roof

Drippy gutters

First, one sign that could potentially cause problems, but is generally an easy fix, is gutters that drip or have debris.  When your gutters are dripping, it is often because they have become clogged with debris.  This prevents water from flowing away from your roof. The water becomes trapped up there, which will eventually cause damage.

Puddles on the roof

Second, another indication, which can be related to the first, is puddles on the roof. Puddles are a result of rainwater not being effectively directed into the gutters and downpipe. As mentioned above, having debris in your gutters can cause water to be backlogged onto the roof.  However, should you find puddles on your roof and find that the gutters are clear, you will need to have this checked out by a professional.

Damaged flashing

Third, damaged flashing is also evidence of either a leak that has gone undetected thus far or of problems to come.  This is usually caused by drying and cracking on an older roof.  The flashing on your roof protects your roof deck and is found in the most vulnerable parts of the roof, such as where the roof meets a wall or chimney, in the valleys on the roof, or at the edge (called drip edge) to help direct water into the gutters.

Regardless of its location, when the flashing becomes damaged, this allows water to filter underneath the shingles, which, when not remedied quickly, will cause significant damage to your roof that can no longer be repaired, but will require a full roof replacement.  For this reason, it is important to ensure that the seals are flush with the chimney. Also, the flashing must remain intact with no cracks.  When there is damage to the flashing, it must be resealed to avoid further problems.

Noticeably deteriorating shingles

Fourth, the state of your shingles can tell of a potential problem.  Shingles are covered in little granules which naturally wear out over time. This process can also be accelerated by external factors, such as trees, animals, or extreme weather.

Shingles with missing granules will need to be replaced before becoming too bare and more significantly damaged.

Buckling shingles look like they are being pushed up from underneath, and indicate water damage, often because water has seeped into the roof deck.  Moisture on the roof deck causes shingles to expand in the heat and then retract in the cold. That allows even more water to leak through.

Curling shingles have edges or corners curving upwards and can be caused by natural wear, though they indicate that a replacement should have taken place already.  Shingles that are curling will not prevent a leak.

Cracked shingles are the result of too much water filtering through, which causes the shingle to separate.  Cracked shingles need to be replaced urgently, as they indicate that a leak is imminent.  When a seam is exposed by curling or cracked shingles, a leak is more likely to take place.

Signs that indicate a roof leak

While a majority of the outdoor indicators can allow you to detect a potential for a leak before it ever happens, the indications that are located inside your home are warnings of something that is already happening.  The attic is one place where issues frequently reveal themselves.

Visible roof rot in the attic

Roof rot or rotting, black stains on the roof inside your attic are a particularly unpleasant surprise.  While it can be caused by humidity, condensation, and ventilation issues, a leaking roof can also cause the wood to rot.  Regardless of the cause, this is an issue that will need to be dealt with by professionals.

Dripping sounds from the attic

Perhaps one of the most stress-inducing sounds to a homeowner is dripping sounds from the attic. These sounds should never be ignored. Doing so will only allow water damage to growing into a larger problem than it already is.  It goes without saying that you will need to call roofing professionals if you discover water dripping from the roof. Still, even when unable to identify the source, it is crucial to contact a professional so that the leak can be identified and fixed.

Mould or mildew

The presence of mould and mildew is another potential indication of a leak, often in the attic, as well.  Mould and mildew tend to grow when moisture is trapped within a confined space.  Once again, this is a condition that gives evidence of an ongoing issue. Mould and mildew appear over time rather than instantly.  If mould or mildew is discovered in your home, it is critical that it not be allowed to spread. It must be dealt with quickly, as it can cause respiratory issues for the home’s occupants.

Musty smell

A persistent musty smell inside the home is another warning sign. However, not an impending problem but of one that has existed for some time.  While this is yet another symptom that often stems from the attic, it is not limited to that location, as the smell is often the product of the leak affecting the home’s insulation.  Insulation is an essential element of our homes, and there’s nothing like winter to remind us of that!  When insulation becomes wet, it becomes ineffective. Additionally, it opens up the potential for significant damage to your home.  On top of that, it only takes 24-48 hours for mould to grow on wet insulation, which becomes a health hazard.  Wet insulation can be dried and salvaged if discovered immediately. But once you can smell it, the damage has been done, and it must be replaced.

Water stains on the ceiling 

The final warning sign of a leaking roof is the appearance of water stains on the ceiling. These dark spots show up on the ceiling or sometimes on the walls and have a yellow, brown or black colour. Sometimes, there is a darker colour, potentially indicating mould or fungi surface growth.  Water stains will commonly be found near the chimney or vents.  When water stains appear on your ceiling, the leak has likely been present for quite a while. It’s likely that one or more of the other warning signs went unnoticed.  When this happens, it is important to bring in professional roofers, as a roof leak can sometimes travel down rafters away from the original source before leaving the water stain, making it difficult to determine the original source of the problem.

Call Prairie Home Roofing right away!

Detecting one or more of these warning signs can bring some general clarity on the condition of your roof. It can assist you in confirming a suspected issue or predicting an upcoming leak. Ideally, understanding what to look for can help you avoid leaks altogether.  Should you have any doubts, whether you’ve noticed some of these indications or not, a professional roofer will be able to put your mind at ease and direct you on the best way to move forward in the case an issue is detected.

At Prairie Home Roofing & Exteriors, a local Calgary roofing company, we understand that roof problems are stressful, and we also understand that a job done poorly will only add to that stress sooner or later. That’s why we emphasize getting the job done right the first time! We don’t see you as just another house. As a family business, we see our customers as part of the family. We deliver truly exceptional quality in both physical construction and the customer experience that we deliver.

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