How Long Can You Neglect a Leaking Roof?

roofer fixing tile roof

You Can’t Predict The Weather

Everywhere you go, it seems like the weather can vary from one day to the next, even hour by hour. A blistering hot sun bearing down on the rooftop and then, the next thing we know, hard, heavy rain, maybe with hailstones and high winds next. With 365 days of this erratic weather pattern, business owners and homeowners find themselves needing roof leak repairs, even replacements.

When is a roof leak an emergency?

Business structures and homes across the nation that have a roof leak that is affecting the function of the business or living conditions of the home should be considered an even more urgent emergency. If business operations can continue, or you can continue getting ready for work and school, you may have a small, slow leak. Roof leak repairs should be done sooner than later, but it isn’t an urgent matter.

Any roof leak should be addressed with proper roof leak repairs, no matter the size. What appears to be a small roof leak can become a large and dangerous roof leak quickly. As a roof leak grows and isn’t a roof leak repair isn’t performed, more damage can be created.

What are the dangers of a leaking roof?

Whether it is a business structure or a home, constant water intruding the structure from the roof will work its way down in the attic, down the walls, and to the structure’s foundation. This will create costly damage and cause other concerns such as:

  • High utility bills

With a leaking roof, the utility bills will rise as the insulation is compromised in the attic. Once this has become saturated, more problems begin beyond needing roof leak repair.

  • Mildew and Mold

As the moisture becomes more saturated, and roof leak repairs aren’t performed, the problems become more serious, like the development of mildew and mold. They begin spreading through the structure and into the HVAC system. From the HVAC system, the spores are blown throughout the structure which it breathed in by everyone.

  • Health Concerns

Mildew and mold lead to health issues that can be mild, but they can become serious too, especially for those with respiratory system issues like allergies and asthma.

  • Fire Hazard

The electrical wiring in a structure’s ceiling or walls becomes vulnerable to a roof leak, primarily by the wiring being shorted and causing a fire.

  • Attic and Ceiling

The initial roof leak damage is to the attic, the area just below the roof. If roof leak repairs aren’t done, that damage continues to the ceiling where bubbling, darkening, and water stains form.

  • Structural Integrity

The biggest consequence of a roof leak repair not being done is damage to the structure. This includes ceiling joists, roofing rafters, wall framing, and more.

How do I know if I have a leaking roof?

There are five key ways to tell that you need either roof leak repairs or roof replacement:

  1. Water spots on the ceiling and/or walls.
  2. Cracked, damaged, missing shingles for homes.
  3. Bubbled or torn roofing membrane for commercial structures.
  4. Damaged or missing flashing or rubber boots on roof penetrations.
  5. Water spots, and wet roof decking.

What should I do if I have a leak in my roof?

If you have a roof leak, repairs should be done as soon as possible. But in the meantime, take the following steps:

  • Place a plastic tarp on the floor under the leak
  • Position a bucket on the tarp to catch the water
  • Go into the attic and measure the size of the leak
  • Then cut a piece of plywood to size, 2” larger all the way around
  • Take the wood, screws, and waterproof sealant to the attic
  • Spread sealant along the edge of the wood and position it over the damage
  • Install screws every 2 to 3 inches around the wood
  • Cover the screw and the edge of the wood with the sealant

How can you tell where a roof leak is coming from?

Take a flashlight and climb into the attic to check the insulation and roof joists. Remember, in a home or commercial structure, where the water is coming in from the ceiling doesn’t mean the leak is directly above that. Water typically runs downhill.

Where you see water dripping, follow the drip back until you find where it is coming from. For a commercial structure, you’ll need a professional roofing contractor that specializes in commercial roofing to find the leak. Most roofing contractors that specialize in commercial roofing will have materials with them to do a temporary roof leak repair, returning later to do a complete and permanent roof lead repair.

Where do roofs usually leak?

In a home, many roof leaks are around chimneys, dormers, skylights, and vents. This is usually from damaged, loose, or missing flashing or rubber boots. In a commercial structure, roof leak repairs are usually around the roof curbs or around roof penetrations.

What is the most common cause of roof leaks?

For a home, common causes are damaged, loose, or missing flashings or shingles. For commercial structures, the common roof leak causes are from damaged, loose, or missing flashings or rubber booting around roof penetrations. Commercial roofing also experiences roof leaks from penetrated or torn roofing membranes.

When will a leaking roof need replacement?

Roofing contractors and insurance companies will recommend roof replacement when more than 25% of the roof is damaged. A temporary roof leak repair may be done until the weather allows a thorough roof inspection to confirm the extent and severity of the roof damage. If this inspection confirms that 25% or more of the roof is damage, a replacement will be recommended. Depending on building codes and the insurance company, a replacement may be required.

Roof leak repair

Will It All Come Crashing Down?

With a roof leak in a home or business structure, occupants and owners will ask a roofing contractor, “Can my roof collapse if it’s leaking?”, and the answer is, yes, it is possible. Water is liquid but when in a concentrated area, it becomes heavy. Pick up a 5-gallon bucket full of water to find out just how heavy!

As roof leaks, the water keeps puddling up above the leak and that dripping or trickling of water won’t be enough to relieve the pressure that puddled water is creating. As it builds up more, it begins to weaken the ceiling, and without roof leak repairs, the roof and ceiling could collapse. Need help with a roof leak? Call us today at 617-481-1725.