The natural enemy of most structures is water, especially when it comes to roofs. Some would assume fire is more dangerous due to its destructive spreading power, however, house fires are rare. With wind or blunt objects, the damage to a roof is almost immediate and does not spread beyond the initial contact. However, water is an insidious substance that can squeeze through the smallest of cracks and can spread through substances like wood and concrete.
Water damage can happen for any reason, however, most initial sources of infection are caused by a fault in your roof’s defense. Heavy rainstorms are the most common cause of shingle destruction due to the various elements involved. Fast winds will slip under roof tiles and uproot them while falling objects like hail or debris can shatter most shingles. The commonality is that external forces will either strip or shatter roof tiles, exposing the vulnerable wood sheathing underneath. Since storms are accompanied by rain, it follows that water is absorbed by the wooden sheathing, allowing for the following damages to occur.
Wood may be a sturdy building material, but it still has its plant-like ability to absorb water like a sponge. When wood ingratiates itself on water, warping occurs due to uneven evaporation of water at different intervals. This causes extreme changes in the composition of the object, creating unnatural twists. For roofs, the same wavy warping can occur as water spreads and evaporates unevenly throughout the surface. This can also cause sagging, which is very dangerous to the integrity of your home.
Oftentimes a leak creates the perfect breeding conditions for mould to grow and spread. Often water will trickle down from a specific leaking point, and then spread itself through wallpaper, insulation, wood beams, shingles, and concrete. While it stagnates, some water may evaporate, creating humidity. The combination of humidity and substances like wallpaper provides food for the mould, which will subtly grow and deteriorate structures even more.
Also commonly known as ‘dry rot’, certain kinds of fungi that specialize in feeding off of wood fibers can be spawned from adsorbed water. Much like mould growth, fungal spores thrive off humid environments while feasting on any organic material nearby.
Most of these damages are followed by similar tell-tale signs, which often include
There are some structural components that can be installed while building a roof that serves as preventative measures.
Underlayment is a protective covering that can be installed underneath the shingles. Typically these water-proof barriers are made of asphalt-saturated felt, rubberized asphalt, or other synthetic materials. Combined with the protective material of shingles, the water-proof sheathing serves as added protection during severe weather.
Flashing refers to angular segments of metal which are applied to roofs in order to direct water away from vulnerable areas. Usually applied to areas with divots, this structure can be used to create miniature waterways to prevent pooling water weight. This decreases the chance of potential leakages over time or roof collapse due to collective weight.
Cap shingles are the rounded tiles that are found on the peak of roofs, or along any edges. Not only do their rounded structures help divert water, but they also act as additional protection along roof fault lines.
If there is a small leak affecting a roof, it is possible to fix such a problem with the roof sealant. Providing there is no underlying water damage, roof sealants or roof tar can be placed over the afflicted area. This substance acts as a cement, and will harden into a water-proof barrier over time. Typically these barriers can last up to 10 years, however other damages can create fractures.
For lack of a better word, yes. Any sagging or serious warping of a roof should be treated as an emergency. Sadly, there are no small fixes for this situation. More often than naught the structural damages involved require replacing the entire roof, which is why a professional should be contacted for inspection.
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