Why Any Roof Can Leak

Why Any Roof Can Leak

Roofs are designed to be water-resistant. Roofs are not designed to be waterproof. Eventually, the roof system will leak and no one can predict when, where, or how a roof will begin to fail.

At Inspection Brothers LLC, during our inspection process, we will describe the home’s type of roof-covering materials in the inspection report. We will also report as in need of correction any observed indications of active roof leaks.

We inspect the roof covering and look for deteriorating or loosening of flashing, signs of damage to the roof covering material, and for debris that can clog valleys and gutters.  Exterior walls and trim can begin to show deterioration developing beneath the eaves of sloped roofs, especially when there are no overhangs or gutters.

Hail and wind can cause significant damage to a roof, particularly an asphalt shingle roof. The inspection images below are of hail impact damage to asphalt shingles.

“Roof covering” is a term specifically used and defined in the International Residential Code and building standards. Roof covering is the covering applied to the roof deck for weather resistance, fire classification, or appearance. And since the covering is layered, not all of the covering material is visible during a home inspection. The other terms, such as roofing or roof system, reference a combination of components used together to form a complete assembly.

A system is made of its parts. An assembly is made of smaller components and most of the smaller parts and components of systems are not readily visible during a home inspection. They are beyond the scope of a home inspection. The focus for the home inspector should be on the roof-covering material.

A variety of roof-covering materials may be installed on a house or building to be inspected, such as asphalt shingles, clay, and concrete tile, metal roof shingles, wood shingles and shakes, and metal roof panels. For example, built-up roof covering is a type of roof covering and is defined in the International Residential Code as a common roof covering for houses and buildings with relatively flat roofs, and made up of two or more layers of felt cemented together and surfaced with a cap sheet, mineral aggregate, smooth coating, or similar surfacing material.

One of the most common types of sloped-roof covering in the United States and Canada is asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles have a service life from 20 to 40 years, depending on the shingle quality, installation, and maintenance. When they begin to lose their granular covering and start to deteriorate, crack, or curl, the shingles should be replaced. In the inspection image below, granular loss is evident at many of the shingles.

Failure of any roof system can cause damage to a home’s structure and a homeowner’s personal belongings.  Any roof can leak, but but with proper maintenance and regular inspections, they can last many years.

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