When water starts trickling in from the roof, many homeowners assume that it must be coming from the area directly above the spot where the leak is coming into the home. Though sometimes this is the case, more often than not, the leak originates from another damaged spot. The water simply is trickling down along a rafter for a ways before coming into the home. Thus, when you have a roofing leak, it is important to know about the common sources of leaks, so you can thoroughly investigate what is going on rather than just examining the portion of the roof directly above the leak.
If your roof has a chimney, a skylight, or other protruding features, your roofing contractor would have used a metal material known as flashing to surround them and prevent leaks. If this flashing is damaged, rusted, or improperly installed, it will often let water seep in beneath it, leading to leaks. Have a look at the metal flashing surrounding your chimney and any other features. If you see any rust, dents, or spots where it is pulling away from the roof, you can bet that this is to blame for your leak.
Exposed Nail Heads
When roofing nails are not pounded in so that they are flush with the shingles, water can seep into the nail holes and then leak into the home. Look for any nail heads that are sticking up, not only directly above the leak, but also further up the roof (since water may trickle downwards before entering the home). Usually, this is an easy fix. Pound the nail heads in yourself, and see if the problem goes away before you call a roofer.
If it is winter, have a look at the edges of your roof. Do you see a lot of ice accumulation? Known as ice dams, piles of ice at the edge of the roof form when too much heat is escaping from your roof, causing the snow to melt and trickle down the edge before re-freezing. Ice dams often pry up the shingles, allowing water in as they melt and refreeze. The leak from an ice dam may not occur directly below the dam, since the water tends to work its way down rafters and the underlayment before coming into your home at the weakest point. To fix the situation, you'll need to improve your attic insulation to prevent future ice dams from forming. You may also need to have some already-damaged shingles replaced.
If you have a leaky roof, don't just look at the shingles directly above the leak. Examine your roof for ice dams, exposed nail heads, and loose flashing all around the area of the leak. Contact a roofing company if you are unable to find or address the cause of the leak yourself.
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