The Dangers of a Leaky Roof

There are many dangers and problems that can be caused by a roof leak and unlike many other household issues, a roof leak cannot be ignored or put off.  The problem with a roof leak is that by the time you discover it, it may have become a bigger issue and if ignored, can lead to some serious home issues not to mention health related issues that can affect everyone that live in the home.

The dangers

Needless to say, you will want to catch a roof leak as early as possible and address it before some of the listed dangers below start to show up in your home.

  1. Attic and ceiling/wall damage
  2. Fire Hazard
  3. Structural integrity
  4. Interior mold and mildew issues
  5. Mold related health concerns

1. Attic and Ceiling/Wall damage

Roof LeakUsually before you see a puddle on your floor, you will have damage in your attic, ceilings and walls.  Damage to your attic area and items you may be storing is the initial danger.  Left alone, the area affected will be your ceilings by causing your ceiling plaster to bubble and expand the finally peel.  The ceiling paint will darken and mutate into shades of colors you never intended for your ceilings.  You walls may suffer the same fate if the leak is not addressed quickly.  Electrical items mounted to your ceilings or walls such ceiling fans and lights may also suffer damage and may need to be replaced. This leads us into our next danger: Fire Hazards.

2. Fire Hazard

You would think that a roof leak would not cause a fire hazard as water usually can deal with a fire.  But in a home environment, this may be farther from the truth.  As mentioned in the previous danger, there are many electrical wires running behind your walls.  Water from a leaking roof could cause wires to short sparking a fire.  If you have electricity in your attic and notice a leak, you should shut power off to the attic and contact an electrician immediately.

3. Structural Integrity

Over time, a chronic roof leak can cause the structural integrity of your home to become compromised. Rafters, ceiling joists, wall framing and outdoor elements such as exterior trim can be weakened and damaged due to wood deterioration.  This can lead to serious problems that will require the help of professional contractors to perform expensive wood framing repairs especially if ceiling joists and rafters are damaged.

4. Interior Mold and Mildew

Over time, the most serious issue that can be caused by a roof leak is interior mold and mildew growth.  Mold and mildew can grow and spread through the home’s structure affecting carpets, furniture and clothing especially if it gets into your HVAC system.

The most common form of mold is black mold is not typically toxic.  Although toxic black mold is rare, regular mold can still attack wood framing and all your typical home coverings such as your wall and floor including carpets.

Once mold gets a foothold in your home, it is difficult, not to mention expensive, to remove.

There is also the concern over health issues related to black mold.

5. Mold Related Health Concerns

According to the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), for those suffering from asthma, inflamations, congestions and other related issues, mold and mildew can cause serious health issues.

Some symptoms that mold and mildew in your home can cause are:

  • Asthma
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Sore eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Runny or blocked nose

As you can see, many of these symptoms can be overlooked and even blamed on something as simple as cold so its easy not to realize that the culprit in this case is mold and not the common cold.  A good way to tell is if the symptoms decrease when you are away from your home.

The symptoms we discussed above are common to non-toxic black mold.  Toxic black mold is a major health concern as it can cause severe symptoms such as:

  • Vision problems
  • Mental impairment
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Damage to internal organs
  • and the list goes one

Most people underestimate the dangers of black mold.  Black toxic mold can damage the immune system and should not be taken lightly.

If you want to learn more about removing black mold yourself, visit “How to Remove Black Mold”.  For obvious reasons, we do not recommend tackling this alone. You should contact a licensed mold removal expert.

The Signs

Roof LeakIn severe cases, you will notice water dripping from your ceiling especially during a strong rain storm, or in our case in New England, when snow is melting.  This usually becomes more apparent when the damage become significant. A roof leak that is caught sooner rather than later can lead to a significant financial savings.

Signs to watch out for include:

  • Stained or discoloration on the ceiling
  • Bubbling or peeling paint on the ceiling or walls
  • Rotting wood around skylights
  • Musty smell (this is a sure sign of mold growth, especially in the attic when the roof has a leak)

You may notice water dripping from the ceiling in severe cases, especially during a hard rain or when a heavy snow is melting, but often that doesn’t happen until the damage is significant. It’s better if you can catch the problem earlier.

Solutions and Next Steps

The first step is identifying the leak source and then repairing it.  This includes any repairs to damaged structural elements. This is where we come in.  Professional mold removers are not licensed contractors and therefore cannot repair roofs.

The next step is to kill the mold growth with a fungicide.

Next, we will have to make sure that the area that was moist is dried out either naturally (natural air flow) or through some form of dehumidifying and or by mechanical heating.

Finally, the cosmetic damage is addressed.  Stains and discolorations are typically treated with some sort of encapsulant.

By now, you may be wondering if your homeowner’s insurance will cover mold or mildew from a roof leak.  Sadly, most homeowner’s insurance claims are denied.  To learn more about why and what you can do, check out this nice article: Will Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Mold From a Roof Leak?” from thelawdictionary.org.

We do hope you never have a roof leak but if you do, we hope its minor and addressed before any of these dangers present themselves.  But if ever you are in need of a friendly roofing professional with over 25 years experience that can help you diagnose the problem and help you through all the steps needed, give us call.  We are licensed roofing contractors and love helping people.

 

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