8 Things Your Roof Is Trying To Tell You

Friday, January 12th, 2018 by Jodi Eisenhour

Problem #1: Water spots on your ceiling:

A slow leak is harder to find than a big leak. What can make a leak especially difficult to locate is the fact that water doesn't necessarily drip staight down. It can travel along roof panels or lumber in the attic before dripping onto your insulation and leaving the telltale yellow water spot on your ceiling. That means the leak can be far away from where the ceiling shows damage. Unless you have good detective skills when it comes to roof leaks, you'll want to enlist a roofing contractor to help track down the cause of the problem.

Problem #2: Water Spots Appear on Exterior Walls:

What the roof is trying to tell you is that the step flashing where the roof meets a wall is loose, rusted, or otherwise damaged. As with water spots on the ceilings, if the damage appears or gets worse after rain, the problem is most likely the flashing. replacing step flashing can be tough, because it has to integrate with the roof and adjacent siding, so roofing skills are needed to tackle this job and stop the leak. One other possibility: gaps or leaky windows could also be to blame.

Problem 3#: Your Gutter are Filled with Granules and Wash out the Downspouts:

If this is happening, the roof is trying to tell you the shingles are deteriorating or reaching the end of their lifespan. Granules do come off and they do collect in the gutters. A few loose granules are not necessarily cause for concern. However, if you suddenly notice a lot of granules flowing out of the downspouts every time it rains, the next step is to get on a ladder and examine the shingles to see if they look "exposed" because most of the granules are gone.

Granules protect against the sun's UV rays, so once they're gone, the shingles can become brittle. In extreme cases, shingles can have smooth or bald spots where all of the granules have completely fallen off. Losing the granules often means the shingles are old. And that means you'll need to replace them.

Before you start the project yourself or call a pro to get a quote, call the manufacturer to see if the shingles are still under warranty.

Problem #4: Cracking Shingles:

When you are seeing cracked shingles, that probably means the granules are worn off, allowing the shingles to become brittle. They proabably need to be replaced. Perhaps you didn't notice the granules washing away, but if you see signs of cracking in your shingles, then it probably means they are being exposed to direct sunlight and are wearing out. The shingles are approaching the end of their service life. Asphalt shingles do not like the heat.

Problem #5: Shingles are Cupping:

When shingles get old and worn out, the ends sometimes start to cup, meaning the corners turn up or the shingles look wavy. An attic that's not vented properly can exacerbate this problem. If the attic gets too hot, it can heat up the roof, which consequently heats up the underside of the shingles. The heat can cause the shingles to age faster and start to cup. Eventually, that can allow wind blown rain to work its way under the shingles and leak into the house.

Problem #6: The Roof is Missing Shingles:

If you are noticing missing shingles, this may mean a critter is getting on your roof, or the sealant strip under the shingles may have been damaged. A fury animal scurrying around on your roof could be responsible for loose or damaged shingles. A critter can really do some damage. If tree branches are near or touching the roof, they can provide a pathway for animals. So trim them back.

Shingles have a sealant on their underside that helps hold the shingles in place. If the shingles become old and brittle, the sealant can fail and the shingles, even when nailed down properly, can come loose in severe winds. When shingles do come loose they need to be replaced. Shingles rely on an overlapping pattern to keep out water. If missing shingles interrupt that pattern, water can leak into the house. 

Problem #7: The Roof Leaks when the Temperature Fluctuates Between Warm and Freezing:

If this is occuring you probably have ice dams. Ice dams are caused by freeze-and-thaw cycles that allow ice to build up on the roof and block melting snow from draining off. That backed-up water can get under the shingles and leak inside. Ice dams can form in as little as 1 or 2 inches of snow.

Newer roofs typically have an ice and water barrier installed along the eaves, where the dams typically form, to prevent the water from leaking inside. There are ice-dam cables you can install on your roof, which heat up to prevent ice dams from forming at the eaves. But the National Roofing Contractors Association does not endorse them. They say you are always heating the roof then which is no good.

Ensuring the attic is well-insulated can help prevent the dams from forming because it helps to stop warm air from escaping into the attic and melting the snow on the roof. Proper attic ventilation can also prevent them by keeping the attic cooler.

Problem #8: There are Black Stains on the Roof:

If your noticing black stains on the roof, this means there is algae growing on the shingles. Although this looks ugly, it doesn't create other problems with the roof. It is not recommended you try cleaning the shingles with a power washer as this might take the granules off the shingles, causing a more major issue.


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