When you were a kid, you giggled over questions like, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” As a homeowner, now you lie awake at night churning over vastly different questions. How can you tell if your roof is leaking? When is a leaking roof an emergency? Relax! Knowledge is power.

Six Signs

To identify a leaky roof without endangering yourself or your family, look for these six signs:

  1. You see water stains — Ceilings and walls show telltale stains as the drywall gets saturated and harbors brown and black bacteria.
  2. Water is dripping — Rule out a leaky attic HVAC unit or plumbing, and then call your roofer if you see active water dripping either in the attic or into your living space.
  3. Spots develop on walls — Before ugly dark stains show, you might notice slight discoloration on your walls, indicating water dripping down from the leaky roof inside your interior walls.
  4. Walls are growing mold — If you see active mold cultures growing on walls — perhaps in dimly lit, seldom-used rooms — a roof leak is likely.
  5. You spy missing shingles — From the safety of your yard (never climb on your roof!), you can see missing, damaged, or dislodged shingles. Shingles slightly overlap, so once the upper layer is weakened, water can infiltrate through the lower layers and cause roof leaks.
  6. Granules appear in your gutters — From the relative safety of an extension ladder, peek inside your gutters to spot the ceramic granules. Piles of granules mean your shingles are past their useful life and roof leaks are sure to follow.

Quick, Call! No, Wait!

You might expect a residential roofer to tell you to call anytime you suspect any problem with your home’s roof, no matter how minor. Not every roof leak is an emergency, however. Not every drip requires a desperate telephone call, emergency repair rates, and 24/7 service. 

Here are some ways to determine how promptly you should contact your helpful neighborhood roofer:

  • First accept that no roof is self-healing, so every roof leak must be dealt with professionally, sooner rather than later. Ignoring a leak only worsens the damage.
  • Roof repair emergencies are usually classified by their effect on your home’s habitability. If your family is not in immediate danger, you do not have a roofing emergency and can schedule an appointment for service.
  • If any health risk is present (mold, extremely high humidity, cold drafts from the attic), you have a roofing emergency.
  • If you can look up at a roof leak and see blue sky from within your home, you have an emergency.
  • Even an active roof leak is not an emergency if your family can go about your daily routines, perhaps with a pot under a tiny leak, to be emptied every few hours. Save some stress, money, and time and call your roofer for a regular visit, not an emergency call.
  • Spend a few minutes determining the rate of water dripping into your home. A few drips a minute is not an emergency, while dozens a minute is a roof repair emergency requiring immediate help.

How Bad?

The rate of water dripping is one measure of a roof repair emergency, but perhaps a more useful one is the extent of the damage being done. While any roof leak will lead to a drop in your home’s value, not every unwanted appearance of water is a plumbing or roofing emergency.

Think of a roof leak as a tiny gremlin with an ax, relentlessly chopping away at your home, its curb appeal, and resale value. By day, while you are away at work, that gremlin is chopping away at sheathing, insulation, rafters, drywall — everything you hold precious. While you sleep, the little gremlin is chop, chop, chopping. The day’s damage may be incremental, but day after day, your house is slowly being ruined. You need to stop it soon, whether that means calling your roofer or your plumber…or both!

Small drips within your attic are not emergencies, even if your attic insulation becomes saturated. You still need to take swift action (call your roofer!) but keep a careful eye on spreading damage until the roofer arrives. Plan to replace any damp insulation. 

Tiny leaks from HVAC or plumbing pipes also may not be emergencies, but because both those systems have charged pipes, the leaks must be dealt with by a trained plumber. A tiny leak in a pipe will cause widespread damage throughout your home. 

You take pride in your home and enjoy returning to it every evening to relax and unwind. Do not let the unforgiving power of a small roof leak steal your pride, your joy, or your sleep. Couto Construction serves the nicest people throughout Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and Rhode Island. Contact us today to let us repair your roof and help you get a better night’s sleep.