Reasons Your Roof Might Be Leaking

There are many potential reasons why a roof might leak. In some cases, there could be one explanation, in others there may be multiple. Whatever the case, figuring out why a roof might leak is important as is having a professional come out to evaluate it as soon as possible. 

After all, a leaking roof can cause a whole host of serious hazards from reducing your property’s structural integrity to an increased fire risk from the danger of leaking water meeting electrics inside your home. With all that said, without further ado, let’s look at the reasons why your roof might be leaking!

Note: Many jobs discussed here are only suited for professionals to fix. If in any doubt whether you can perform a task DIY, check with a professional as to whether a job you are considering undertaking is DIY-friendly. Also, even if you legally can perform a job, it’s still essential you have the right skills and knowledge and take all necessary safety steps.

Slipped Slates or Tiles

One of the most common and thankfully relatively easy to fix causes of roof leaking is that slates or tiles have slipped.

If slates or tiles have slipped out of place, this means that when plenty of rainfall occurs, the underlay can be put under pressure in areas with slipped slates/tiles. After all, the slates/tiles that have slipped out of position won’t be able to protect the underlay and ultimately this can cause water to pool in these sections and bring up the chances of a leak inside your roof.

Flashing Has Cracked

Another common and again fairly easy to solve problem is that of cracked flashing. Flashing is a weatherproof measure that can be found below roof shingles on roof joints. Flashing comprises individual sections of metal designed either to act as a collective weather resistant barrier or simply to stop water entering your home.

However, if flashing becomes cracked, this can allow water to get to leak into your home, hence a leaking roof. If your roof has cracked flashing, simply hire a professional to have the flashing replaced/repaired. It’s unlikely to cost you a ton and it shouldn’t take very long (in most cases) for a professional contractor to address this problem.

Flashing may become cracked because the sealant used for the flashing has corroded over the course of time. 

Clogged Guttering

Another potential reason why your roof is leaking is that your gutters are simply clogged and need cleaning. Also, once the job is done, it’s good to have your gutter cleaned once or twice a year (spring and autumn are probably ideal – after all during the autumn and into early winter, there’s plenty of falling foliage) and sooner/more often if needed.

Cleaning guttering is one of the jobs discussed in this article that is actually DIY-friendly once you follow the safety requirements (e.g. when using a ladder make sure you have a second person there to hold it from the bottom for your safety). 

A pair of gloves, plastic bag and a scoop or garden trowel will suffice for ridding your gutters of debris. Do so cautiously. With that said, hire a professional if in any doubt about any aspect of this work. 

As for why clogged guttering is an issue, with too much debris, gutters can’t actually function (i.e. carry water down from the roof space and into a drain on the surface). As a result, clogged guttering means a greater risk of water pooling on your roof and resulting in cracks and areas of weakness.

Of course, it’s also possible that you’ll need to have at least some sections of your guttering replaced if they are too worn down. Whatever is needed, guttering costs in general and specific to replacing gutter sections can vary quite a lot depending on the number of gutter sections in need of replacing and the type/quality of the gutter sections.

Roof Materials Have Worn Down

Note: If in doubt as to whether to have a professional repair or replace roof materials in general (including roof tiles/shingles), simply consult with them and ask what the best approach is for them to take on your behalf to fix the issues with your roof.

Time will take its toll on all roof materials to varying degrees. In some cases, many of your roof’s tiles or shingles will simply need replacing. They may not have slipped out of place but they could be beyond economical repair. Indeed, it is rare that tiles/shingles are fixed. 

In the majority of cases roof tiles/shingles will simply be replaced when they are too worn down. After all, having roof tiles/shingles simply repaired will often prove a relatively short-lived fix before they’ll need replacing anyway. Repairs might make sense in specific cases (e.g. minor leaks need fixing or algae needs addressing). 

Underlay Issue

Beyond the possible causes already discussed, it’s also feasible an underlay failure is behind your leaking roof.

On days and nights of strong winds, rain can potentially force through gaps in tiles (or even force its way under tiles) even if the tiles are in fairly good shape themselves. When this happen, the underlay’s job is to take the water that makes it through gaps or/and under your roof tiles and discharge it into the guttering so that it can then be led to the drain and ultimately removed from the property.

However, over time, underlay can rot due to continual exposure to rain (and, occasionally, often heavy rain carried by strong winds). If the underlay sees a decrease in functionality or begins to fail entirely, you can imagine how this can easily result in roof leaks, but particularly on stormy days/nights. 

As with some other causes of leaking roofs, a problem with the underlay is generally a weather-based problem as dysfunctional or failing underlay should only lead to a roof leak during stormy weather when rainwater can make its way through gaps of tiles or enter underneath tiles.

Roof Area Condensation

Condensation within your loft can act as another type of ‘roof leak’. If your loft space lacks sufficient ventilation, condensation can form on the underside of roof tiles or/and roof underlay. Whatever the case, this can lead to water droplets leaking through the ceiling. 

So, technically this is not a roof leak as such since the ‘leaking’ water would actually be coming from within your roof area but since this issue resembles a roof leak it’s still worth listing here. 

As you can imagine, hiring a professional to deal with the lack of ventilation in your attic space is the solution (if this is indeed the case – you’ll need a professional to confirm the issue too in the first place, whether before the work begins or before they get to work).

Other Potential Explanations

Further notable causes that could explain your leak roof or be one of the reasons behind a leaking roof include:

  • Roof junctions with damage
  • Incorrectly fitted flashing
  • Skylights that are poorly fitted
  • Roof windows that are poorly fitted
  • Chimney-related leakage
  • Roofing membranes have experienced damage
  • Your roof has the incorrect sort of materials for its specific pitch

Fixing the Consequences of a Leaking Roof

It’s also worth noting that in many scenarios, the damage done by a leaking roof will also need addressing. The extent and the cost of the repairs or replacement work needed will vary depending on the sort of damage caused by your leaking roof and the scale of it too.

Common work required to fix harm done by a leaking roof includes:

  • Fixing your home’s structural integrity (e.g. fixing joists, rafters, etc. that have experienced damage due to one or more roof leaks).
  • Removing mould from one or more locations within the home.