Common roofing problems

Anyone who has ever had to repair roof damage can tell you how expensive and time-consuming the exercise can be. Upon assessment, US-based Buildings magazine conducted research into common roofing problems, and identified the following:

Commonly reported roofing problem:

Leaks and moisture issues:

This is one of the most hazardous roofing issues. Roof leaks can occur for a number of reasons, some of which include improper installation of flashing, obstructions such as moss and branches, skylight flashing, worn or damaged roof ridge cap, blown off shingles and ridge vent problems.

Ponding water:

In particularly rainy areas, it often happens that water ponds on the roof. This is not a short-term issue, but if the ponding is not removed, bigger issues can result. One of the ways to adjust this issue is actually through the initial design phase, by making use of slopes that will allow water to run off.

Poor installation/workmanship:

A faulty installation can seriously increase the likelihood of problems and it is for this reason that only a certified contractor should be used.


This is one of the primary reasons that a credible, professional contractor should be used, and the risk factors involved in a poorly designed and installed roof structure can lead to things like overheating asphalt, odours from cold-applied mod-bit systems can cause discomfort and even illness among occupants of the building, and outside air intake should be covered.


Blistering, ridging, splitting, and surface erosion are symptomatic of much bigger issues and caution should be taken here (even if the problem seems small). Inadequate attachment of hot bituminous roof systems due to asphalt heated to an improper temperature can cause blistering, along with the slipping of felts, and accelerated aging. Bad interply integrity and dry laps can also result in the appearance of blisters.

Reduced wind uplift resistance and blow offs:

Improperly installed flashing can cause issues such as open seams and laps, which invariably lead to blow-offs and reduced puncture resistance. Additionally, seams made with cold adhesives do not have good integrity until the adhesive is cured.

Poor maintenance:

This comes as a word of warning to home owners: do not neglect your roof safety. Problems usually start out small and then escalate over time, especiallywith wear and tear, and it is for this reason that consistent and professional roof maintenance must be conducted. Perform routine inspections and address minor problems early.

Inadequate repairs:

This ranges from anything from using inadequate materials to trying to misdiagnosing and attending to an existing problem. If the contractor is not seasoned in his art, he may not be able to adequately correct the issue that has arisen.


Punctures can cause major issues for roof structures, especially in a high-traffic area. New installations (such as rooftop gardens or satellite antenas and dishes) can cause these problems, again, if reputable contractors are not commissioned. Rush jobs can also cause these issues to arise.

Defects in flashing:

Where roofs meet with parapets or other walls, proper flashing is essential. There should be under and cover flashing.

Faulty gutters and downpipes:

If the gutters and downpipes are inadequate, or if the roof does not overhang the gutters and is not sealed, water builds up in the gutters and overflows into the roof cavity.

Assessing roof safety

Roof issues

According to Rain Storm Consulting, the following checks should be conducted to avoid roof issues, particularly in hail-heavy areas:

  • Measure attic/loft ventilation
  • Inspect the attic/loft for vent blockages
  • Inspect for moisture
  • Check all storm collars at pipes for proper seal
  • Inspect the roof for missing shingle granules
  • Check gutters and downspouts for blockages
  • Check the fasten method used from original installation
  • Check for wall flashing
  • Check for all loose shingles
  • Check the seals on shingles to prevent wind damage
  • Check that the shingles are brittle or deteriorated
  • Inspect the pipes
  • Check the rubber boots on top of pipes for dry rot

It is highly recommended that, when selling, you get a building or roofing professional in to check these aspects for you. Once he approves them, ask for a certificate to that effect to ensure that you are not liable in the event of something going wrong. You can never be too careful when it comes to roofing.

Sources: Bradly Lewis Home Maintenance, Buildings magazine, Dampproofing & Waterproofing Association of South Africa

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