Of all the household maintenance chores that may go procrastinated, or worse, undetected, a leaky roof should occupy possibly the highest priority of all. A leaky roof may develop from a variety of factors: improper roof installation, storm or wind damage, or a lack of regular maintenance. It’s also important to note that most roofs aren’t designed to last past 20-30 years, so it may just be time to get your roofing redone.
Most homeowners don’t realize why a leaky roofing is an urgent problem that needs to be dealt with swiftly. A leaky roof may start off as just a structural problem, but it poses risks to health and safety that can turn out to be incredibly harmful and costly. Water constantly finding its way into your house will work its way down from your roof all the way down to the foundation of your house, giving rise to a whole new subset of problems as it does. In the interest of awareness and cost-cutting, here are some of the less-obvious ways that a leaky roof can damage your house:
1. Attic & Ceiling Damage
Initially, the damage from a leaky roof will confine itself to the attic area as well as the items stored there. If there is no attic, or if the leak is big enough, it will start to damage the interior ceiling. There are a few things you can keep an eye out for to ensure that no further damage occurs. Damaged paint or plaster on nearby walls and damage to ceiling-mounted fans and lights are an indication that you might have a leaky roof on your hands.
Left unchecked, a leaky roof can lead to mold and mildew growth, which is one of the most serious consequences of a leaky roof. Mold can spread easily and readily through a house, and the process is only made faster if the leaky roof isn’t repaired promptly. Mold is capable of spreading through a house’s entire structure, and once it reaches an HVAC system, its only a matter of time before it invades carpets, furniture, and even clothing.
2. Damage from Mold & Mildew
The most common type of mold to watch out for is black mold, which results from a chronic intrusion of water through structural leaks. Though it is rare to find toxic black mold, non-toxic varieties are still capable of causing significant damage to wood frames, ceiling tiles, and floor coverings. In any case, because of the considerable time and expense that black mold removal requires, it is important to keep an eye on your roof or any other parts of your house that may cause chronic leaks.
3. Health Concerns from Mold & Mildew
Mold and mildew are also capable of producing potentially serious health issues, particularly in highly sensitive people. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency warns that Nasal congestion, Rhinitis, Asthma, and inflammations may develop when exposed to mold and mildew. Once the mold is present in your house, mold spores continue to be produced and these, in turn, can also lead to allergic reactions, asthmatic symptoms, or more serious health problems.
4. Electrical Fire Hazards
If electrical wiring is present in an attic or ceiling area, a leaky roof can create a fire hazard or lead to electrocution. At this point, it is wise to turn off power to affected areas of the house and bring in a professional electrician to examine the damage. Shorted or exposed wiring can create an extremely hostile environment to live in, especially if children or pets are present in the household. Get the facts about electrical fires and leaks!
5. Higher Utility Bills
Water intrusion is extremely detrimental to any insulation present in the attic. Cellulose and fiberglass insulation is susceptible to becoming saturated and will take a long time to dry out. As the insulation is gradually depleted and unable to do its job, your house will be quicker to lose hot and cool air, which will lead to notably higher utility bills. If a roof repair is put off for a longer time, chronic water intrusion will significantly deplete insulation, costing you more money in the long run.
6. Safety Hazards
If a leak is prominent enough, puddles of water may accumulate on the floor. A wet floor may not seem like a serious threat to safety, but an active household consisting of young children and pets are not likely to realize the danger posed. Slips and falls are capable of producing significant injuries, especially in the dark, and the added financial cost makes it worthwhile to avoid the risk altogether and to invest roof repair services promptly.
7. Compromised Structural Integrity
One of the more obvious consequences of a leaky roof is the structural damage that water can wreak on the house. Damage to rafters, ceiling joists, wall framing, exterior trim, and even fascia boards are likely side-effects of a leaky roof. If left unchecked, chronic water intrusions may worsen the situation by deteriorating and rotting away the roof framing, ceiling joists, or walls. These problems are serious enough to require the assistance of a professional contractor, which can turn rather expensive if ceiling joists and walls have also been damaged. In this situation, it is recommended that roof repair is carried out in a timely and effective manner to avoid much higher costs down the road.
All in all, it is important to keep an eye on your roofing now and then, and to address leaks as soon as they become apparent. This is important to remember because more often than not, the damages from a leaky roof will far outweigh the personal or financial consequences of ignoring it.