Leaky roofs are not just inconvenient they can also be hazardous. Leaks can promote mould, compromise installation, cause structural deterioration and they can even become fire hazards if they’re not dealt with quickly.
Heavy rains, high winds and even cyclonic conditions are all part and parcel of living in Queensland, but unfortunately, extreme conditions can also take their toll on even the sturdiest of roofs. But what causes the damage? Here are six reasons you might have a leaky roof.
#1 – Blocked Gutters
One of the most common causes of a leaking roof are gutters that are clogged with leaves and other debris – water can flow back into vulnerable places in your roof causing leaks. The solution? Clean them regularly! Overflowing water that runs along eaves that extend over windows can also cause damage as water can fall onto the head of your windows and cause a cascading effect.
Valley gutters (found on sloping roofs) are designed to collect water from two pitched sections of roof and channel run-off down to lower gutters, however often strong winds and large amounts of rain can cause excess water to shoot over the edge of older valley gutters, causing leakage.
Blocked box gutters (gutters that are ‘boxed in’ by either a wall or another roof running into the gutter) can also cause havoc in terms of roof leaks if they are not sealed at the joins properly, or if there are no overflows in place to stem additional water after a big storm.
#2 – Chimneys And Skylights
Roof leaks can also be caused by what are called ‘penetrations’. Skylights, in particular, can leak for all manner of reasons, from leaf blockage and age, but most commonly because of incorrect installation. Flashings (the material that’s used over roof joints to prevent water seepage) need to be installed well because skylights are generally wide and hence the water that tends to run to the back needs to be channelled around them.
Chimneys can also cause problems and need to be waterproofed securely as flashings can deteriorate, and some chimneys have hidden soaker flashings along their sides which can also rust, leading to roof leakage.
#3 – Rust On Your Metal Roof
One of the more common causes of a leaky roof that is manufactured from metal is rust. Even COLORBOND® steel and ZINCALUME® steel roofs can deteriorate very quickly once they start to rust, however, due to their long life, they will often only have isolated patches of rusting such as in the lap of the sheet.
It’s only a matter of time before rust will break through, however, which could lead to water running onto ceilings and down internal walls. This can cause untold damage to furniture and carpets and even more alarmingly, light fittings and electrical wiring.
If an entire roof is rusted, the only effective solution is to replace it as replacing individual sheets is a short-term fix and uneconomical in the long run. Professional roof restorers will always use full-length sheets to eliminate rust-causing joins and secure them with rubber-sealed screws to ensure your roof is both secure and watertight.
#4 – Faulty Ridge Capping on Your Tiled Roof
Tiled roofs have ridge capping which are the upside down V-shaped elements at the top and sloping edges of the roof. Unfortunately, the bedding (the sand and cement base that supports it) and the capping itself can crack over time and water can seep into the cracks. Water can then pool behind the bedding and eventually overflow into the roof cavity, or it can run along the back of the bedding, not find a release draining path and lead to leaks, which, unfortunately, are hard to spot without removing the ridge capping itself.
If this happens, and in terms of roof maintenance, the roof needs to be ‘repointed’ in order the maintain the ridge’s security, which can involve removing and installing fresh bedding, although in severe cases a new roof may need to be considered.
#5 – Broken Roof Tiles
If your roof is constructed of tiles, one of the issues that can cause it to leak is if a number of the tiles are damaged or broken. Both terracotta and concrete tiles can slowly wear down and break altogether, or your tiles can be damaged by heavy rain, falling branches, overhanging trees or even the odd cricket ball thrown a little too high! Birds, possums and rats that are after a quiet, dry spot for a new home can also be problematic for tiled roofs, and if damage already exists, they can make the problem much worse.
Tiles can suffer ‘basic’ breaks which means they will be broken straight down the middle, and even if your roof is not particularly old, hairline cracks can expand with temperature changes.
Wear and damage can compromise the ‘water course’ of a tile (which is the underlapping piece of tile that directs water down the roof), and this can also lead to a leaky roof. If problem areas aren’t actually visible, you will need to hire a professional roofing repairer who will either remove sections of the roof or inspect within the roof cavity in order to survey the damage.
#6 – Rusty Valleys On Your Tiled Roof
Roof valleys are the V-shaped metal channels that run up and down the ‘folds’ of a roof, and on older tiled roofs, in particular, they are prone to rust. This is because many of the valleys on tiled roofs used to be galvanised (which is the process of coating steel with a protective layer of zinc), and they start corroding with time, particularly if debris (like leaf litter) becomes trapped. And unfortunately, old rusty valleys will start to leak as they rust out over time.
So regardless of whether your roof is constructed of metal or tiles, part of the process of avoiding the problem of a leaky roof is to not only maintain your roof but to ensure your gutters, downpipes and drains are debris-free as well. That’s where we come in!
Need your drains unblocked in order to fix your leaky roof? Contact Yarrow Plumbing today on (07) 3277 5742.