Figuring out what causes leaking roof problems on a Florida home can be frustratingly difficult. While nearly all residential roofs are classified in the roofing industry as “steep-slope” roofs, many Florida homes have very gentle pitches, or angles, to their roofs. A leak may start in one place on the roof but show up inside many feet away from the actual source. Your local residential roofer will look to these eight areas for likely causes of roof leaks.
1. Sanitary Stacks
Every toilet in your home must have a sanitary stack to vent sewer gasses up and away from your home. These vertical pipes pierce your roof and are usually surrounded by rubber boots or, sometimes, metal flashing.
Any roof piercing is a weak spot in your roof’s water resistance. Rubber boots will decay over time from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. These can be easily replaced by a skilled roofer.
Kitchen and bathroom fans often vent through the roof and require the same level of attention and upkeep as sanitary stacks.
The thin metal bridging gaps between, say, your chimney and roof or in roof valleys is called flashing. This thin, flat metal can become corroded or dislodged, causing water to enter your attic.
Replacing flashing is never a do-it-yourself job. No homeowner should climb onto a roof, either, for safety reasons. Contact your local roofer for help.
3. Satellite TV
Mounting holes from satellite dishes on your roof (or, if you are an amateur radio enthusiast, a ham radio antenna) can be poorly caulked. With thermal expansion and contraction, the lag screw or carriage bolt may loosen over time, causing water to slip in under the mounting plate and then into your roof.
Masonry and wood expand and contract at different rates, so sheathing (the plywood or oriented strand board—OSB—that sits on your rafters and supports your roof) is never cut to exactly meet your chimneys. Any little gap left by poor flashing or inadequate caulking may allow water to enter your home. Commonly, this water drips down the stone and weakens the chimney joints. You may need a roofer to remedy this kind of leak, plus the help of a mason.
Floridians love the sun. Skylights are a great way to get more sunshine even when we are inside. But poorly installed, inadequately maintained skylights are prime sources for water leaks in your roof. Skylights usually have flexible, rubberized curbing or flashing backed up with thin metal plates. All of that is covered by the roofing material.
If your skylights were installed after the roof was laid down or installed by do-it-yourselfers, many of the recommended installation methods might have been ignored. Worse, a leak may start at the top of a skylight but may show itself inside your home at the bottom of the skylight. The water can wander down the entire length of the skylight’s side before appearing as ugly brown stains on your drywall ceiling.
6. Clogged Gutters
Ignore your home’s gutters at your own peril. Clogged gutters filled with shingle granules, organic matter, twigs, and leaves will cause water to back up and fill the gutters rather than drain down the downspouts.
Water overflows behind the gutter, saturating the fascia boards (horizontal trim) and often rotting them out. Even if the fascia boards appear intact, they can act as sponges to admit water into your attic and even within your exterior walls.
7. Outdated Roofing
An old, poorly maintained, or recently damaged roof can cause roof leaks. Shingles, concrete tiles, or metal panels that are past their expected life spans can allow tiny openings for water to find a path into your attic space.
One way to extend the life of your roof is with annual roof inspections and routine repairs by your nearby residential roofer. Your roofer can assess your roof’s actual age (weather aging and chronological age) and help you plan for residential roof replacement.
Storm damage can easily cause your roof to leak. Even if you see no perceptible damage, high winds can cause shingles to lift up and lose their water resistance. During heavy rains and high winds, water can be driven laterally up under tiles and shingles to saturate your underlayment and sheathing.
Once water finds a course, that softened, moistened path will always serve as a convenient entry point for more water.
Obvious damage from dropped tree limbs or windborne debris can tear, break, scour, or dent your roof. Your best solution is to make two telephone calls:
- Call your local, reliable roofer
- Call your insurance company
Central Florida homeowners can tap into the experience, expertise, and excellence of Alan’s Roofing for all their roofing needs. Contact us today to learn all we can do to repair, preserve, or replace your home’s roof.