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Common Roofing Problems and How to Fix Them

Your roof is continuously exposed to harsh elements – blistering heat, torrential rains and snowfall – which can result in problems that require professional repair services.

No matter whether your home is old or new, it is essential that any minor roofing issues be identified and rectified quickly before they escalate into bigger issues. In this article we cover some of the most frequently experienced issues and how best to solve them.

Damaged Shingles

Roofs that are in good repair will protect against rain, sleet and snow for many years; however, with age comes weathering that degrades shingles over time.

An absent or loose shingle can allow water to leak in and damage sheathing and wood decking beneath, potentially leading to leakage, which in turn causes leakage into ceilings, leading to sagging ceilings, rot or mold growth and ultimately leading to mold growth and eventually mold infestation.

Maintaining an eye out for damaged or missing shingles can save time and money with roof replacement projects. If one becomes cracked, brittle, discolored or otherwise compromised in any way it should be immediately replaced to prevent costly roof replacement costs later.

To replace a shingle, first separate it from its fellows with a flat pry bar or crowbar, loosen the adhesive under tabs two rows above by lifting them, and remove their nails. Slide in a new shingle into its place while aligning it with adjacent shingles on either side and tucking its back edge under an adjacent row shingle before applying a generous coating of roof cement at its base.

Ice Dams

Ice dams are an unavoidable annoyance in northern climates and, if left unattended, can do serious damage to both roof shingles and home structures. Ice dams form when snowmelt collects at the warmer top part of a roof before flowing to colder eave overhangs and refreezing, blocking snowmelt from flowing off of it and collecting as an ice dam in an attic or seeping through ceiling drywall into living spaces causing further water seepage into attic insulation that reduces effectiveness as saturates insulation effectiveness causing leakage into living spaces through ceiling drywall cracks into living spaces if left unchecked.

Ice dams can often be caused by air leaks in the attic or inadequate insulation and ventilation in it, which allows heated indoor air to rise unevenly from below, warming only parts of the roof surface at once. To reduce or prevent future ice dams from occurring, increase ventilation and add insulation. When they do form, hire a professional to safely remove them without damage to shingles or gutters – and also identify air leaks or any other potential causes which contribute to their formation.

Water Leaks

Water leaks into homes can cause serious and expensive damage that’s often hard to repair. Leaks often appear as wet spots on ceilings, potentially leading to mold growth if left unchecked.

Most roof leaks occur around roof penetrations such as chimneys, skylights, vents and dormers, while gaps, loose shingles or poorly sealed caulking around these structures often contribute to leakage issues. Leaks may also develop where two different planes intersect (e.g. at an intersection where valley meets two sloped sections of a roof).

Locating the source of a leak requires “thinking like water.” To start your search for its source in your attic, push aside the plastic vapor barrier and look for flow stains on sheathing or rafters. Keep in mind that water always travels downhill; therefore the spot you see on your ceiling may not correspond with where it entered. Once you locate its source, caulk may provide temporary repairs while professional assistance should be sought for more extensive leak repairs.


Many homeowners mistakenly assume the dark stains and streaks they see on their roof as mold, when in reality the more likely cause is algae. Algae thrives in warm and humid conditions and can slowly consume your shingles until they rot away, leaving unsightly marks around your home and an unsightly sagging roof which costs both in time and money to repair.

Fungicide sprays can help break up algae, moss and mold growths in an attic space; just be sure to wear the necessary safety gear like face masks, rubber gloves and nonslip work boots or shoes during this process. It’s also wise to ventilate the attic space during this process so as to avoid breathing in any chemicals from this treatment, while cleaning and treating affected areas with cleaning and treatment products designed to eliminate mold growths.