Whether you’ve experienced a severe storm or your roof is simply getting older, you may be wondering whether you’ve got roof damage.
In this article, we’ll review
- The most common types of roof damage
- Signs of roof damage — inside your home and on the roof
- What to do if you discover you do have damage
Let’s get started.
The 7 Most Common Types of Roof Damage
Roof damage can come from many different sources — storms, plants, animals, and other sources. But these 7 are the types of roof damage that you’re most likely to experience.
If you’ve got wind damage, you’ll notice missing shingles or shingles that flap in the wind while still attached to the roof. Wind damage can also be seen along seams and joints, where it can cause the flashing to tear or buckle.
If you see wind damage, always check with your insurance company to see if it qualifies for a claim BEFORE doing any repairs.
Typically, hail damage isn’t visible from the ground unless the hail was quite large. If you see small dimples or dents on metal downspouts or on outdoor HVAC units, you may also have hail damage on the roof.
While we don’t recommend climbing onto your roof to inspect it yourself, here’s how you can spot hail damage:
- On asphalt shingles, hail damage usually shows up as a bunch of slightly dark spots where the granules have been brushed off.
- On a metal roof, you will see dents in the metal sheets, especially in a raking light. (This may be visible from the ground.)
- On cedar shake, one of the first signs of roof damage is extra wood splinters and chips in gutters and downspouts.
This type of damage isn’t as common, but with asphalt and cedar shake roofs, squirrels or raccoons will sometimes chew holes in the shingles near a ridge or edge of the roof so they can get into the attic. This type of damage may be visible from the ground.
If you have tree damage, you’ll most likely know it. You might have heard the noise of a branch falling, or see a large branch on your roof or hanging from your gutter.
If you think a tree branch has fallen on your roof, it’s a good idea to get inspected just in case. The impact can cause granules to brush off the shingles or, worse, create tears in the shingles.
Moss can grow into your roof, causing structural damage to the shingles. You’ll see it in heavy clumps over most of the roof or a portion of the roof. If it’s been growing there for any length of time, you’ll need to replace the shingles that are affected.
In winter, accumulated snow can begin to melt on a warm, sunny day. When it does, it flows down your roof, toward the edge. But if temperatures drop before the snow has completely melted, the runoff will refreeze into ice.
When temperatures warm up again, this layer of ice can take longer to melt than the snow behind it. Instead of melting, it becomes an ice dam, holding back newly melted water, pushing it back up the slope of your roof and underneath your shingles.
When water gets under your shingles, if you don’t have a moisture barrier, you’re going to develop a leak, which you will likely see inside your home or in your attic.
Sometimes, accidents just happen. Mechanical damage refers to any damage caused unintentionally by human activity, such as:
- Cleaning the gutters
- Shoveling snow off the roof
- Walking on a steep asphalt roof in really hot weather
To find mechanical damage, look for damaged flashing around chimneys, valleys, skylights, rakes, or walls. You know you’ve got it if you see shingles that:
- Have pulled up
- Lost granules
- Formed dark spots
- Are folded or torn
Signs of Roof Damage from Inside Your Home
It’s important to inspect for roof damage even before you see signs on the inside of your home. A professional roofer can do a complete inspection, but even without climbing onto your roof, you may see one of these common signs that you have roof damage.
When roof damage occurs, water can get under the shingles or come in under the flashing. While it might not be enough to penetrate the walls or the ceiling, it can cause damage to the deck or soak into the insulation and become a breeding ground for mold.
Water leaks, more than any other type of roof damage, can compromise your roof’s ability to protect the interior of your home. You might not even notice a leak until it’s already caused a lot of damage. In fact, by the time a leak has gotten bad enough for you to see water dripping on your living room floor, it’s likely that you have some damage in your attic as well.
Be aware, though, not all water leaks are caused by roof damage. If your water heater or HVAC system are in the attic, it could be coming from there.
Water stains on your ceiling
Water stains often show up as brown rings or patterns on the walls or ceiling, but they might not show up right away.
A slow leak that begins to soak into the ceiling or wall will leave a stain from the mineral deposits in the water when it dries out again. Depending on the color of your walls or ceiling, it could be hard to spot water stains. If you have a wood ceiling that’s brown, or if the lighting in that corner is poor, you might not see the stain at all.
Peeling or bubbling of your walls or wallpaper
Moisture can degrade the paste holding up your wallpaper and, over time, the paper will peel or bubble. It’s the same with sheetrock. The moisture trapped inside can cause the inner layer to swell and the surface layer begins to bubble or peel.
If water puddles in the attic, your ceiling may begin to sag from the weight of the water. This kind of damage might not be noticeable right away, but the water will eventually wear its way through. If the water collects fast enough, it can get pretty heavy and cause a section of the ceiling to collapse on the floor.
Wet attic insulation
Insulation can be surprisingly absorbent. If a leak is small enough, the insulation may absorb it before it becomes a drip on the inside of your house. Over time, that moisture can lead to mold. The insulation may also get compressed like a wet paper towel and lose its ability to insulate.
Damp or wet framing (in the attic)
Condensation in your attic is never a good thing. It could be the result of poor ventilation in the attic or moisture that has gotten between the shingles and the deck — or it could be a sign of roof damage. Any water trapped in the attic can create condensation on the framing when it evaporates.
Bottom line, moisture in the attic is not a good thing.
Musty or damp smell in your attic, basement, or crawl spaces
When moisture gets trapped for any length of time, it can lead to mold and mildew. If you notice a damp smell in your home, there’s likely moisture collecting somewhere. Remember, you might not see any stains or notice any peeling or sagging, but if you notice a musty or damp smell, mold and mildew might be quietly causing extensive damage.
Higher-than-normal energy bills
Another silent sign that you might have roof damage is higher energy bills. When insulation absorbs water, it loses its R-value. Even though fiberglass insulation is technically waterproof, it can still retain moisture, which lowers its R-value.
Blown cellulose insulation works because of the air trapped inside, which gives it that fluffy texture. When it gets wet, it compresses and loses most of its insulation value.
Signs of Roof Damage to the Shingles
Before we get into this section, a word of warning:
It can be dangerous to climb onto your roof. That’s best left to professionals. But if you can see any part of your roof from a safe vantage point, here’s what to look for:
» Look for shingles that are curling, cracked, or broken. Do you see shingles that are darker than the rest, or look different than the rest of the shingles? What about pits or holes?
» Check the flashing. Is it curled or bent? Does it appear to have any cracks or have suffered any wind damage?
» Are there any missing shingles? Sometimes after a storm, shingles can be blown off the roof. You may even find a shingle or two in the yard.
» Are there any shiny or smooth shingles? Shingles have granules that keep the UV rays off the shingle’s asphalt coating and make them more fire resistant. When they’re damaged — whether from weather, mechanical damage, or age — they’ll lose those granules. It’s normal to lose a few granules over time, but if you see granules collecting in your gutters or in the yard, you’ve likely got roof damage.
What to Do When You Find Roof Damage
Don’t touch anything! Take pictures of the damage and make notes of everything you notice. You’ll need this for your insurance claim.
Ask a roofer to inspect your roof and assess the damage.
Notify your insurance company, especially if the damage is extensive. But don’t worry too much about how to work with them, because most roofers will help you with your insurance claim.
Work with your roofer to replace or repair your roof. They’ll guide you step by step.
Know How & When to Identify Roof Damage
Roof damage might not actually cause a drip or a leak, but the best time to address any damage is before it becomes a problem.
Your home is one of the biggest investments you’ll make, and your roof is crucial to protecting it from the elements. Know how to identify roof damage so you can make sure it’s doing its job and lasts as long as possible.