What homeowners should expect when a roof leak causes water damage to the home
Blog Summary: SERVPRO® of Ennis/Red Oak highlights six ways a homeowner can expect a roof leak to damage a home.
SERVPRO of Ennis/Red Oak is the team of professionals to call for water damage restoration and other property damage cleanup and restoration services. What might seem like a small amount of damage can actually create more significant problems that require knowledge, experience, the right equipment, and advanced cleaning techniques and products to clean up and restore.
Water damage from a roof leak
A roof leak not only creates a mess but also compromises the structural integrity of the home or business. Any property damage disaster, even a minor roof leak, is complex, often requiring a multi-faceted approach to cleanup and restoration.
If left unresolved, a roof leak can create a cascade of damaging effects from the ridge vent at the top of the roof to the foundation of the structure. An understanding of what the severe impact a roof leak can have is strong motivation to identify and repair the problem in its earliest stages. Procrastination can be catastrophic in its consequences when a leaky roof is involved. Below are some of the effects to expect when the roof leaks.
Causes of a roof leak
A roof leak can occur for many reasons, including the following:
- The ridge vent may let out hot air from the attic but fail to keep out water due to age, storm damage, or inferior installation.
- The boots around the vents will crack and leak over time.
- Skylights are notorious for leaking.
- High winds and hail may have damaged the flashing around the chimney.
- An aging chimney can wick water into the home through the mortar in the bricks.
- The foundation may shift and cause leaks around the chimney.
- A branch may fall on the roof, puncturing the shingles and sheathing.
- Clogged gutters can back up, flooding the attic with water.
1. Expect damage in the attic and to the ceiling
When the roof leaks, the first point of damage is the roof itself. Sheathing, the plywood or OSB board that covers the rafters and to which the shingles are attached, will warp and rot if the leak is not resolved. Roof leaks are hard to source because the water may travel long distances along rafters. The support beams can warp and rot. Once in the attic, the water can damage boxes, clothes, furniture, and other contents. The roof may leak only when there is moisture or precipitation. Inspect the attic when it is raining or during snowmelt. Listen for the sound of dripping water. Look for stains, and watermarks on the rafters and any flooring in the attic. A moldy, musty, mildewy smell indicates the presence of water or excessively high moisture levels in the attic and the possible presence of mold.
Any insulation in the roof and attic can sustain serious damage upon becoming wet or water-logged. Wet insulation will clump and compress. In this state, the product loses much of its insulating property. The result is higher energy costs during the hot Texas summers and cold winters. Inspect the roof, attic, and insulation on a seasonal basis and after any major weather events. Identify any leaks and resolve the issues before the leaks increase and the damage escalates. Delays in repairing known water leaks and water damage can influence an insurance claims settlement.
2. Expect mold and mildew problems
A water intrusion through the roof provides the moisture that mold and mildew need to thrive. The attic is already warm, dark, and full of organic material (wood, paper, fabric). A roof leak introduces water into the equation, making a perfect environment for a mold infestation. Mold spores can infiltrate the entire structure through the HVAC system, causing further damage. A mold infestation can be avoided with quick action to stop the leak, remove any excess water, and dry out the insulation. SERVPRO of Ennis/Red Oak can take care of the water damage cleanup process, including mold mitigation.
3. Expect drywall to warp and sag
Drywall is a common building product used in many homes. When exposed to water and moisture, drywall will warp, sag, and eventually fall apart. The water intrusion must be stopped before the drywall has to be repaired.
4. Expect potential fire hazards
The attic and walls contain electrical wiring and outlets. The introduction of water into the electrical system of a home elevates the risk of fire. Have a licensed roofing contractor resolve any roof leaks. If the source of the water is a leaking pipe or sewage backup, have a reputable plumber address the problem. Hire an electrician to inspect any wiring and electrical outlets affected by the water intrusion.
5. Expect surfaces to be slippery
Water and moisture in the home make the floor slippery, creating a slip-and-fall hazard. Mop up the water and dry the surface with a fan. Use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture levels in the home. Identify the source of the water and stop the leak at its source.
6. Expect the overall structural integrity of the home to be compromised
Wood rot, warping timbers, and compromised flooring substrate weaken a home. Moisture around the foundation from overflowing gutters, disconnected downspouts, and poor grading can be catastrophic. The homeowner or property manager who fails to immediately resolve a roof leak should expect the leak to impact the overall structural integrity of the home or business.
When a water damage disaster occurs, secure the services of a reputable, locally owned and operated property damage cleanup and restoration company to remove the excess water, dry out the structure with heavy-duty dehumidifiers, and clean, disinfect, and sanitize affected areas.
SERVPRO of Ennis/Red Oak is available 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays. A crew of IICRC-certified can be on-scene in about an hour. The rapid response and quick cleanup reduce the likelihood of advanced secondary damage such as mold, mildew, and wood rot. The SERVPRO staff can handle the insurance claims process from beginning to end.