Part 2: Roof Repair Rudimentaries – Common Roof Problems

While it’s true that each roof is a unique case and that there is no true one-size-fits-all approach to roof problems, there are still some issues that are more or less common across the board. Examples include leaks, missing or broken shingles, and moisture damage.


Leaks are a near-universal problem, one that can occur in any kind of roof and for different reasons. Most of the time, however, a leak is caused by the deterioration of the roof covering or of the material surrounding penetrations like skylights, chimneys, and vents.

Now it’s true that there’s no avoiding roof deterioration. Wear and tear is a natural part of a roof’s life cycle. Premature deterioration, however, isn’t. That’s what routine roof inspection and maintenance aims to prevent.

As for penetrations, they are more vulnerable to leaks because installing them involves cutting through layers of roofing material. But just because your roof has a skylight or a vent doesn’t automatically mean you need to worry about leaks. There should be no problem so long as the flashing surrounding the penetration was installed properly and remains in good shape.

Besides the areas surrounding penetrations, flashing is also used to bridge transitions, like in roof valleys or at the points where the roof meets a wall. If the flashing is in poor shape, those areas are also prime candidates for leaks.

Missing or Broken Shingles

Asphalt shingles are designed to be long-wearing, but the amount of abuse they take from the elements will take its toll. Prolonged sun exposure, especially on the southern face of your roof, will cause shingles to deteriorate faster and become brittle. Wind also takes a toll on your ridge cap shingles and on shingles installed at windward corners, rakes, and eaves. They are the likeliest to be blown off during a storm, especially if they weren’t installed properly in the first place.

Moisture Damage

Moisture damage that isn’t associated with roof leaks may be caused by:

  • poor roof ventilation (which prevents warm, moist air from escaping) and
  • poor insulation (which allows warm, moist air from downstairs to find its way into the attic.

Signs that should clue you in to the presence of excess moisture in your attic include rust or black rings around nails, algae stains on plywood, and soaked insulation. Over time, this moisture will cause the wood in your roof to weaken and decay, compromising its structure from within.

What should you do if you see signs of a roofing problem? Should you attempt to do the repairs yourself? Stick around for Part 3 of Roof Repair Rudimentaries to find out!