Roof Leaks: The Consequences Of Deferring Repair

Date Published: April 25, 2019

One of the most costly problems that can face any homeowner is deferring repair of a roof leak. Your roof is one of the most expensive – and important – parts of your home. It is responsible for preventing water from leaking into your attic, walls, and much more.

If it fails and you do not realize that it’s leaking, you could face a repair bill that may cost thousands – or even tens of thousands – of dollars. In this article, we’ll take a look at the top 4 consequences of deferring repair of a roof leak.

1. Water Damage

Water damage is the biggest issue caused by an unrepaired roof leak – and it’s often hard to detect. Leaks in attics can stay hidden for a long period of time if you’re not regularly checking the integrity of your roof. By the time you notice water damage, it may have affected your attic and other areas of your home – requiring major and expensive repairs.

Sometimes, leaks are very hidden and can hide in between walls. These leaks do not always cause stains on drywall and can be difficult to find. This is where having moisture or mold inspection can be beneficial.

By the time the drywall on a ceiling starts to show moisture staining from a roof leak, it is likely the roof framing, sheathing, and insulation has been damaged. This can lead to the following problems.

2. Mold Growth

Mold requires a wet, humid environment to grow – so if your roof starts to leak and water gets into your attic and walls, mold will begin to grow on the organic building material that becomes wet. The continued water supply from the leak will likely cause the mold to spread. Since most attics are built from organic material (meaning wood) the mold has everything it needs to continue to grow if not addressed.

Mold can be harmful to humans and animals, and mold remediation can be a costly and difficult process. Removing wood sheathing in the attic can be necessary at times to fully mitigate the issue.

3. Structural Damage

In extreme cases, water damage can cause serious damage to the structural components in your home, such as load-bearing beams, or the roof truss structure. The roof decking in the attic can become frail and weak with the presence of a consistent roof leak. Same goes for the trusses and framing of the home.

This kind of structural damage could compromise the integrity of the structural members and require repair or replacement to these important components.

4. May Require Total Roof Replacement

Even if the other structures of your home are not damaged, your roof can be damaged by a prolonged leak. Gaps between shingles can lead to lifting and premature wear of other singles around it. It can also cause the decking below to warp soften and which can lead to loose shingles. Loose shingles have an increased risk of damage during harsh weather.

A minor leak can often be fixed by replacing a few shingles, flashing and a waterproof barrier – but if the leak is allowed to progress, larger sections of roof sheathing and decking may require replacement.

Older Home Issues

Over the years, products have gotten better and builders have gotten smarter about preventing roof leaks. New roof flashing requirements help with weaker areas of a roof. However, many of these processes were not mandatory or around when older homes were built.

Because of this, older roofs are prone to roof leaks. Not only because the roofing material is older, but because of the installation techniques. When a roof is replaced, we recommend bringing the installation method up to today’s standard.

Until replacement, roof leaks can be common where flashing is weaker. This is common between the transition between roof and chimney or roof and siding. Ensure you are consistently checking your roof and these weaker areas, particularly if your home is older.

Understand The Consequences Of Roof Leaks – And Take Steps To Prevent Them!

Beyond the damage from a natural disaster or a fire, a repair neglected roof leak is one of the most costly issues that can affect your home. So make sure you take steps to prevent leaks! Have your roof inspected yearly, check your attic and other such areas for signs of water damage, and consider hiring a professional to assess the overall health and integrity of your roof systems.

In addition, make sure you hire a home inspector to assess the quality of a roof before you put in an offer on a home, to make sure the roof is free of potential leaks.

Doing so will save you a lot of money in the long run – and allow you to avoid the costs associated with repairing water damage, mold, and other such issues caused by a leaky roof.

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About the Author: George Scott

George founded Scott Home Inspection in 2006, and has grown the business into a multi-inspector firm serving the Colorado Front Range, from Fort Collins down to Colorado Springs. As an ASHI Certified Home Inspector and Certified Energy Rater, George is an excellent resource to help with inspection and energy-related requirements.

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