At Austermiller, we advise all of our customers to call us immediately if they notice any signs of water damage – big or small. If not identified and fixed properly, roof leaks can lead to further, more extensive damage that can end up costing thousands of dollars to repair. It is better for the overall condition of your home and wallet to fix a leaky roof when the affected area is in its early stages, rather than waiting. It could be the difference between a quick seal or patch, and a full roof replacement

So what causes roof leaks in the first place and how can you identify them? Our goal is to thoroughly answer these two questions throughout this article. If you have any other questions that do not get answered or you would like to schedule a FREE estimate with us, don’t hesitate to reach out at 615-553-2041.

What Causes Roof Leaks?

The first question we are going to tackle is “What causes roof leaks?” Perhaps you have recently replaced your roof and are already noticing signs of water damage. Or maybe you’ve had your roof for a while, but are wondering what needs to be done to remedy the situation. There are a variety of reasons why you might be experiencing roof leaks in your home, but below are some of the most common reasons that we regularly encounter. 

Blown Off Shingles

Blown off or missing shingles are going to be the first suspect of any roof leak. Have you taken a look at your roof lately? If you haven’t, you might want to. However, in any inspection by one of our local roofers, missing shingles is one of the first things we look for – so no worries if you don’t catch it at first. 

Determining whether a missing shingle is the actual culprit of your roof leak or not heavily depends on the location. If the missing shingle is resulting in the exposure of a seam between two other shingles, or it is located in an area called a valley (where two low parts of a structure meet) – then it is more likely going to be the cause of your leak. 

Old Shingles

Next in line to be identified as a suspect for roof leaks? Old age. As time progresses, shingles wear and they become brittle and can crack. When this happens, the shingles simply are not as effective at repelling water and protecting your home. Brittle and cracked shingles allow water to travel through or beneath the shingle, and into the inside of your home. 

The lifespan of your shingles depends on the specific type and quality, but on average asphalt shingles last about 20 years or so. Early signs of wear and tear include curling at the bottoms. If you know the last time your roof was replaced and it’s due for a replacement, chances are that’s the cause of your leak.

Improper Installation

Much like purchasing a home to begin with, replacing your roof is an investment. It is not cheap, but with high-quality materials and workmanship, it can last you up to 30 years. If you’ve recently replaced your roof and are experiencing leaks, you may have, unfortunately, had someone improperly install your roof.

It is crucial to choose the right roofer when it comes time for a roof repair or replacement. Do your research, read reviews, and have a couple of different people come out to your property to give you recommendations and estimates. Make sure they are qualified, trustworthy, and consider heading over to our other blog post Questions to Ask a Roofer Before Hiring.

Improper Flashing

In addition to the roofing material of your choice (asphalt shingles, wood shingles, metal roofing, etc.), proper installation of roof flashing is essential. Generally made of galvanized steel, the flashing is what directs water away from areas of the roof that are more vulnerable to leaks and towards the shingles. Damaged or improperly installed roof flashing, especially around a chimney or dormer, is one of the most common causes of roof leaks.

Again, do your due diligence when choosing who will be repairing or replacing your roof. Roof repairs are costly but become even more costly when you have to hire someone else to fix something that shouldn’t have been an issue in the first place. 

Ice Dams

During the winter, ice dams can form after snow collects on the roof, thaws, and then refreezes at night. Ice dams usually form at the edge of the roof after partial snowmelt. Once the dam forms, the water from the snowmelt builds up behind the dam and flows back under the shingles, and then leaks into the house. First, the build-up will soak the insulation and then drip through the ceiling. Depending on the home’s architecture, the leak can damage walls, stain ceilings, cause mold, and even damage furniture.

Locating A Roof Leak

Now that we have discussed what causes roof leaks, we will dive into where these leaks most commonly occur. When you hire Austermiller to address a roof problem, we will not leave until we have identified and resolved your issue. Some seasons bring more storms than others and a higher risk of leaks. Below is a list of the most common areas where roof leaks occur.

Pipe Boots

In every home, there are vent pipes that help circulate air. Generally, they run from a kitchen or bathroom up to your roof. And around these vent pipes, a vent pipe cover, also known as a pipe boot, is placed around the vent pipe to prevent leaks. If these waterproof boots become defective and need to be replaced, leaking is not uncommon.

Dead Valleys

Many modern and custom homes have what is called dead valleys. These are areas of the roof where two or more slopes meet, or when a roof slope meets a wall and water cannot easily runoff or cannot drain at all. For this reason, leaks are often caused if the valley is not properly waterproofed. These areas of a roof require a special coating or protective barrier before the shingles are placed.

HVAC Vents

Similar to pipe vents, some sort of waterproof barrier is placed around the support platform of an HVAC that lies on top of a roof to prevent leaks. If this seam is cracked or defective, it allows rainwater or condensation from the HVAC to travel to the inside of your home. It might be difficult to identify whether it is an HVAC or roof leak problem, but feel free to reach out to us and we will assist in determining the issue.

Toe Board Holes

Many precautions are taken by roofers while on the job to avoid injury. The most common injuries, those related to falling, can be prevented by utilizing toe boards – a wood plank placed on the roof for roofers to help support themselves and avoid slipping. The issue and potential leak risk with utilizing toeboards is when contractors don’t cover up the holes once the board is removed. Typically, sealing these holes is a common practice by roofers, but unfortunately, not all roofers do what they should.

Nail Pops

Nail pops on a roof can be caused by environmental factors or construction mistakes. Hot and humid conditions can cause nails to rise, but if the wrong length nail is used or the shingle is installed incorrectly, nail pops may also result. Either way, when a nail is not secure there is essentially a hole in your roof. Plus, when a nail pop is present, it causes bumps or waves in your shingles. Together, this creates an opportunity for water to leak through the roof.

Contact Us Today

If your home has any signs of water damage, contact our roofing experts at Austermiller, Inc. It is important to call us as soon as possible so that your leak does not cause any further damage or become any more of a monetary burden. If not identified already, we promise to find the source of the leaking and make any necessary repairs.

Austermiller, Inc. has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for over 25 years. Our team of certified contractors and roofers are trained professionals to install materials of the highest quality with the highest quality service. We are proud to specialize in both commercial and residential roofing, as well as storm damage repair and restoration. 

Schedule your FREE estimate today by visiting us online or giving us a call at 615-553-2041.