How a slow leaking roof can cause water damage and mould
Summer is over now. We are well into Autumn and the weather is cooling down. It’s the perfect time to think about what we can do to stop any water damage before the next wet season. But it’s not just the heavy downpours that come from storms that can cause disastrous water damage within our homes, what about the slow steady leaks that could be occurring at any time?
If a slow leak finds its way into your home, water can easily penetrate any porous materials that make up your property and could eventually cause not only mould growth, but also the possibility of major structural damage leven before you become aware that there may be a problem. Even the tiniest leak in your roof, can become a major hassle for your property.
A roof leak is not just a structural problem. It can also cause electrical and health problems also. Water can leak into electrical wires which can cause shortages, and even electrical fires. Where as mould can grow rapidly and if untreated can lead to health issues for you and your family.
To prevent such slow water damage, you need to rectify and roof leaks as soon as possible. If you fail to address them at the first signs of roof damage, you won’t just have costly roof repairs to contend with, but also with mould remediation and other water damage restoration issues.
What are the signs of a leaking roof?
When it comes to a leaking roof, we need to know what to look for in order to identify potential issues and put a stop to them as soon as possible. Roofs should last a long time, but components and fasteners can wear out, and strong weather and climate can also play a part in the structural integrity of your room. We recommend that you have your roof inspected at least annually, otherwise any minor leaks can pass unnoticed and cause bigger problems for your property down the track.
The most common signs of roof leaks are:
- Water seeping into the home during heavy rainfall;
- Water spots or discolored areas on ceilings and walls;
- Darkening of ceiling paint;
- Peeling paint around skylights or windows;
- Cracked or bubbled plaster;
- Crumbling drywalls;
- Wood decay in your crawlspace, or around skylights and windows;
- Decaying or stained soffits and fascia;
- Granules collecting in the gutters;
- Curling or cupping shingles (on older style roofs);
- Decreased home energy efficiency;
- Deteriorated indoor air quality;
- Musty smell in the crawlspace or upstairs rooms;
- Mould on insulation, ceilings, etc.
It could be difficult for the untrained eye to locate the leak even if all the telltale signs are there. Slow leaking water can be sneaky and travel along roof panels or framing in the crawlspace before dripping onto the insulation and leaving any visible evidence of its presence. If the telltale signs are there it may be a good idea to have your roof professionally inspected. Finding the source of the roof leak as quickly as possible will help you prevent major structural damage and unhealthy mould issues.
Will my roof leak by covered by insurance?
Some people ask, “Does homeowner’s insurance cover roof leaks?” Well, it depends on the individual policy and the cause of the leak. Sometimes it also depends on when the leak was discovered and what you have done about it, how and when.
Most insurance policies should cover damage from leaks as long as you have responded with rectification measures at the very first signs of the damage. Damage must be sudden and accidental. If you ignore a wet patch on your ceiling for a couple of months and only report it after mould has started growing or the ceiling starts to sag, then your claim may be rejected. Insurance does not tend to cover wear and tear or neglected maintenance and according to most insurance policies, failure to detect a roof leak constitutes negligence. If you do discover a roof leak, the best chance for it being covered by insurance is to first determine the cause. Then it will be up to the individual policy and insurer as to whether it is covered.
What are the causes of roof leaks?
There are many things that can cause roof damage. You have your general bad weather such as hail, high winds, torrential rains, cyclones etc. Roof materials could be not quite right for your area and climate, or the roof fasteners and other componentry may not be correctly installed or have worn down over time. Whatever the cause may be, eventually it will result in leakage.
The most frequent causes of a leaking roof include:
- Broken or missing tiles – tiles can get damaged or blown away in strong storms. Missing tiles are usually very easy to identify but seeing if a tile is damaged or not may require detailed storm damage inspection;
- Improperly installed or damaged flashing – If the metal installed around the chimney, windows, skylights or vent pipes cracks or breaks, rainwater and moisture will easily get into the property;
- Improperly sealed valleys – If the valleys (the places where two roof planes come together) are not sealed together well, rainwater can get through them as it runs down the roof. Sometimes this can also happen when fasteners have rusted or blown off in heavy wind;
- Improperly installed or damaged skylights – Improper installation and/or disintegrated insulation along the skylights’ edges will allow water to leak into the property;
- Clogged gutters – When the gutters get clogged, rainwater cannot drain away and pools in one area of the roof. It may then cause rust holes and eventually find a way inside;
- Inadequate roofing materials – Certain roofing materials are specifically designed for certain types of roofs and certain areas and climates. If your roof was not constructed with adequate and proper fitting materials, leaks can easily occur.
Does a leaking roof cause mould?
A leaky roof can cause mould growth within just a couple of days – when water enters your property and has the chance to sit and stagnate, mould spores begin to breed upon the moist surface. Mould can surprisingly begin to form in as little as 48 hours when in the right conditions.
If you are unfortunate enough for mould to grow through the entire roof cavity due to a roof leak, you will need professional assistance to remediate the mould condition and restore your property. If your roof has enough ventilation to prevent condensation, the moisture should only accumulate in the area of the leak, which will be a lot easier for eradication of the mould problem.
Mould problems should be addressed without delay as all types of mould can eventually cause health issues for inhabitants of the home. Mould spores spread rapidly, even through heating and cooling systems and can lead to respiratory problems, allergies, headaches and other health problems.
What should I do if I think my roof is leaking?
If you are not experienced, you should have a professional do an inspection. Once the leak is found they can fix it and prevent any further issues. If you have mould, definitely have a mould remediation and or water damage specialist remove the mould and repair the water damage.
To prevent further water damage to your home and avoid the build up of costly repairs, you really need to rectify a roof leak as soon as possible. If significant damage has already been done, make sure you call professional water damage specialist such as Disaster Restorations Australia in to handle the restoration process in a safe and efficient manner.