The sooner you detect and repair a roof leak, the less water damage you'll have to repair. While roof leaks can appear in any section of your roof, there are areas where they are more likely to occur. Keep a watchful eye on these spots so you can detect and take care of any roof leaks sooner rather than later.
Along the Edge
Oftentimes, the shingles along the edge of the roof start peeling back sooner than those found closer to the peak. These shingles may show particular wear if your gutters clog, causing water to back up onto the roof, or if your roof develops ice dams during the winter months. (When ice dams develop, the ice works its way under shingles and peels them away from the roof surface.)
Leaks along the edge of the roof sometimes go undetected if you have a crawlspace rather than open attic space along the edge of the inside of your home. Make sure you check your crawlspace for water and moisture that may come from damaged shingles along the roof's edge. Better yet, have your peeling shingles replaced before they start leaking.
Trees cast shade on a roof, causing the shingles to stay moist and to deteriorate more quickly. You may also notice moss growth on areas that are shaded by trees; moss breaks the shingles down and makes leaks more likely. Note which parts of the roof are shaded, and check underneath these areas in your attic to ensure there's no moisture present. In the long run, you can prevent leaks by having overhanging trees trimmed or removed.
Near Chimneys and Vents
A metal sleeve called flashing is generally placed around each chimney, vent, and roof protrusion. Sometimes, the flashing may corrode, bend, or loosen, allowing water to leak in behind it. Pay careful attention to the portions of your roof near these protrusions. If you do notice that the flashing is looking a bit worse for wear, have your roofing contractor come replace it before a leak develops.
Additionally, leaves tend to accumulate around chimneys and vents. Leaves trap moisture against the flashing, accelerating the rate of corrosion. If you see any leaves in these areas, use a long-handled broom to sweep them away. This should help extend the life of your flashing and prevent leaks.
Skylights allow a lot of natural light into your space, but they are also one of the most common sites of roofing leaks. The caulk around the skylight may fail, or the flashing that surrounds it may begin corroding. If you notice any bubbles in the ceiling or paint around your skylight, this is a sign that your roof is leaking.
You should also take a look at the roof around your skylight. Call your roofing contractor if you see any peeling shingles in this area, as leaving them in place may allow water to seep in and cause more significant damage to the skylight frame.
If your roof has multiple peaks or gables, keep a close eye on the valleys where two sections of the roof come together. Water tends to gather in these valleys, and sometimes, it does not drain off properly. When water doesn’t drain appropriately, the shingles and any flashing in the valleys tend to break down and start leaking sooner than the rest of the roof.
If you have frequent issues with valleys leaking, your roofing contractor may need to apply a sturdier type of shingle or reinforcement flashing in this area.
The older a roof gets, the more likely it is to develop leaks. However, even young roofs can develop leaks under the right circumstances – especially in the areas discussed above. Keep an eye on your chimneys and vents, valleys, roof edges, skylights, and shaded areas so that leaks and the problems that cause them are detected early on.