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Top 10 Most Common Roofing Problems

Posted August 1, 2019 by Patrick Morin
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Owning a home is a rewarding experience. You get to decide every detail to transform a house into your home. Owning a home is also a tremendous responsibility. Anything that breaks is suddenly a problem you have to fix. With that, what are the top 10 common roofing problems in the Portland area?

It’s not that big of a deal if it’s an appliance. When a dishwater breaks, for example, you know right away. Your roof is a completely different story. Most times due to the type and kind of weather here in Portland you quickly find out you have a leak. Sometimes it can be months before you notice the problem. Whether it is a new or existing leak just discovered, we can help you. 

To help keep your costs (and headaches) down, keep an eye out for the top 10 common roofing problems. 

1. Stains On the Interior Ceilings/Walls of Your Home

As you walk through your home, look up and see if you have dark stains appearing on your ceiling.  Big leaks will cause the ceiling to bulge and if left it will burst and let water into your home. Smaller leaks that may be from seepage of water will just leave dark stains on your ceiling. 

Another area where water will show itself is on the window frames of your home. You will see water dripping onto the window sill and/or down your walls and will follow the same pattern as described up above whether it was a big leak or a smaller seepage type of leak. 

2. Snow and Ice Damage

Although in Portland, this rarely happens, when it does it causes a lot of water to come into your home. It does this because the ice forms in the area of your roof not over the living space of your home called a soffit. As the snow begins to melt over the roof above your home’s living space the water from this melt is damned by the frozen snow and ice causing a back of water. This happens a lot when we have a big snowstorm up on the hill surrounding Portland. This doesn’t mean your roof is defective, it just means that when the roof was installed it was not prepared for snow and ice dams. Generally, the damage this situation causes is covered by your homeowner’s insurance. 

3. Shrinking and Splitting Shingles

Cedar shake roof problems don’t just end with snow, ice, and water. In fact, no matter what kind of shingles you have, you may think you’re experiencing shrinking and splitting over time. Shingles that aren’t placed correctly or maintained over time can have many different age-related issues based on their style. 

Age-related issues concerning a cedar shake roof. 

Even good shakes properly installed will show signs of wear in the slots between the shakes called key ways. These are called erosion holes and the water is stopped for a while by the underlying felt paper. If left unfixed the sun and rain combination will dry out and crack the felt paper resulting in leaks. If a shake cracks over a key way the same principle applies, the paper prevents leaks for a while and then will wear out and give way. Both of these items can be detected prior to active leaking by having the roof inspected on an annual basis. 

In addition to the above-mentioned repair sometimes in high wind storms, entire shakes and or ridge caps will become dislodged and you will find them on the ground. Again the paper will prevent an immediate leak but should not be left for long-term protection. 

There are items that protrude through your roof called pipe flashings, skylight curbs, chimneys, sidewalls, solar tubes, electrical poles, satellite dishes, and solar panels. All of these items can be the cause of leaks if not checked. 

Age-related issues with composition / asphalt shingle roofs.

As the roof ages, areas of high water volume being trafficked off the roof will wear faster than areas of lesser water traffic. In general, an asphalt roof would be flashed with metal to allow these high water trafficked areas to last the same length of time as the lower volume areas. When metal is not used this is when many leaks appear beginning around the 6th year on to the 25th year of the roof’s service life. 

These roofs like the shake roofs mentioned above have protrusions. All of these also need to be checked so no water is able to get in through these openings. 

As this type of roof ages you will find lots of granules in the gutter drain areas. This is a normal aging process of this type of roof. 

Moss is what most people see from the ground that causes premature failure of the shingle by growing underneath and lifting the shingle off it’s designed sealant allowing water to get to the fasteners. Moss control in Portland is a super important step in having a long lasting beautiful healthy roof. 

Age Related issues with cement tile roofs.

This type of roof is installed over a roof deck of plywood covered with 30lbs felt. 1 inch Batons are nailed every 16 inches and the tiles are laid on the batons leaving a 1 inch gap between the deck and the tile. The inside corners on this type of roof are called valleys. The outside corners are called hips. The bottom edge at the gutter is called a drip edge. 

In Portland, the amount of moss growth and rain cause erosion of the cement tile. The valleys need to be built to handle a large amount of moss growth and cement silt. Most tile roofs in the Portland area were not installed to handle the amount of sluff of the above mentioned items. This situation overwhelms the valleys and major leaks happen. The solution is to rebuild the valleys to the NW standard. IE Double ribbed metal valley, baton extenders and ice and water underlayment. 

The other issue affecting this type of roof is at the bottom row since the roof is one inch off the deck the felt paper installed handles a lot of bypass moisture produced by storm surges and rots out. This allows water to leak from behind the gutter rotting out soffits and fascia structure. This issue can be remedy by installing anti ponding drip edge metal. 

These two items mentioned above along with controlling the moss growth on this type of roof should be at the top of your list for the longevity of your roof. 

4. Damage from Small Animals

When possible have the trees and shrubs kept trimmed back away from the roof life as squirrels and raccoons will want to make their new home in your attic. This will cause a lot of roof damage and big leaks. 

If you can’t keep them off of your roof then the soffits where the gutter returns to the roof needs to have heavy-duty chicken wire to keep them from getting into your home’s attic. Sometimes on your soffit vents, aggressive birds will work the screen out and get into your attic to have their new flock. You will know this is happening by the bird poop on the side of your home and or active bird nesting grasses being collected in different areas of your roof. These are all preventable situations. 

5. Tree Damage

Trees, like the wild animal population, are a big reason many of us choose to call Portland home. Unfortunately, they’re also a major cause for some of the most common roofing problems. Overgrown trees that hit your roof during a storm can knock off entire patches of shingles and tiles from your roof. Also, the branches of older trees are more likely to break off during a heavy storm, leaving you with a giant hole in your roof. 

Make sure that you maintain the trees that surround your home to prevent major damage. Another option is to consider changing your roof from shingles to a metal roof or something that can withstand a beating from the branches. If that’s something you want to explore, make sure you contact a professional to consult on the best option. 

6. Poor Ventilation

According to the National Roofing Contractors Association, this is the number one cause of premature failure of your roof. It is also the number one cause of your costs of heating and cooling the home being 30% higher than need be. An improperly ventilated attic in Portland will allow microbial growth to thrive creating an unhealthy home environment and very expensive remediation. Improper ventilation ruins the plywood deck of your home and when the roof is replaced prematurely it comes with and extra cost to replace all the plywood. What you as the homeowner experience is a home with an upstairs that can’t be cooled off. In the attic you will see white or black mold on the rafters or the bottom side of the plywood.  

All of this can be avoided by having the home inspected for ventilation accuracy. 

7. Leak Repairs

In Portland leaks happen. With our kind of wind and rain combination and occasional snow storm the roofs here work overtime keeping us warm and dry in our homes. When a leak happens it’s usually not convenient. In fact it can be quite a difficult task finding a qualified contractor that will respond before more damage is caused. In fact many roofing contractors will not respond to leak requests as it interrupts their general flow of business. You may be tempted to make the repair yourself taking your life at risk by getting on and off the roof from a ladder or crawling across your rafters trying to figure out where the water is entering your home. 

Since 1983 Roof Life of Oregon has been taking care of roofs put on by everyone else in the Portland area. We have developed an extreme proficiency in finding and fixing your roof leaks and doing it expeditiously. In fact we have a 24 hour emergency leak button on our website and if it’s dark and we can’t come out we will give you step by step instructions on how to lessen the damage being caused until we can arrive.  

8. Old Construction

Older roofs are a common problem for homeowners simply because of the natural aging process. A small problem on a new metal roof, for example, might be a complex problem on an older wooden roof. Before you buy an older home, make sure to call a trusted professional to understand the condition of the roof. Regular maintenance is expected from any homebuyer, but for an older home, you want to be aware of any problem areas before you take responsibility of the home.

9. Broken Gutters

We talked a little bit about this earlier, but gutters are an important part of the integrity of your roof. They prevent standing water, help remove clutter from your roof and make sure that no extra weight remains on your roof for an extended period of time. Broken gutters, on the other hand, do nothing but cause you problems. 

Poorly installed gutters, for example, are known to rip off your roof completely during particularly heavy rainfall (or snow melt). While clogged gutters can back up onto your roof, causing bigger pools of water. Keeping your gutters clear and properly fastened to your roof is the easiest way to protect yourself and your home. 

10. Unattended Roofs

By now, you might have guessed the single most common roofing problem. All the other problems lead to this single issue: unattended roofs. No matter what kind of roof your home has, if you don’t dedicate time to regular maintenance, you are opening yourself up to major problems. The best thing you can do for yourself is set up a schedule to keep your roof sturdy and prepared for all types of weather. 

Schedule An Appointment to Avoid Common Roofing Problems

If you’re ready to take a proactive step in protecting your home from major roof damage, contact us. With these top 10 common roofing problems, our trained experts will come to your house to do a comprehensive inspection and offer you the best options for you. Regular roof maintenance can extend the life of your roof by up to 40%, so don’t wait! Call us today

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