How to Identify Common Roof Problems

How to Identify Common Roof Problems
  • Opening Intro -

    Your home's roof is one of the first lines of defense that protect your home.

    When it is doing its job, moisture is kept out and your investment is safe.


However, age, wear and an event such as a tropical or winter storm can make your roof vulnerable. Damage cannot always be easily observed from the ground, but on closer inspection such as by ladder access, you can identify common roof problems.

1. Wear and tear. All shingles will eventually wear and need replacing. If there is no layer underneath, you may be able to have a roofer place a new layer on top. Check with your local zoning laws to confirm the same.

Signs of shingle deterioration including blistering, cracking, missing granules, curling and missing shingles. Any problem by itself or in combination of two or more should be addressed immediately.

2. Cupped and buckled. If you observe that shingles have buckled and cupped, then you have a moisture problem underneath. This is often the source of internal leaks and those shingles should be repaired or the entire surface reproofed.

There are a number of reasons why shingles cup. First, shingles that are not installed properly are more likely to cup. Second, as shingles age, cupping is just one sign of deterioration. Third, there could be a defect in the manufacturing process. Attending to this problem right away can save you money and headaches.

3. Ice dams. A roofing problem that is common to homes during the winter months are ice dams, or a pooling of frozen water that accumulates due to improper ventilation. When a dam is in place, it prevents melted snow water from draining from your roof and may cause it to back up into your home.

The immediate solution here according to the University of Minnesota Extension is to remove snow from the roof. A roof rake or a push broom can make this happen. In one-story homes, this can sometimes be done from the ground with a roof rake. Solutions include sealing air leakage between the house and the attic space, and making sure that the ceiling air is tight so that moist and warm air won’t flow from the house into the attic space.

4. Failed flashing. Flashing is used on roofs to help prevent water damage. You’ll find roof flashing, typically made of rust-resistant metal, around vulnerable areas of the roof including vent piping, the chimney, a skylight, in roof valleys and around windows.

When flashing becomes detached or loose, you have a potential disaster waiting to happen. You may need to replace it with new flashing, by first cleaning out the old caulk or roof cement, and replacing it with new material.


If you have the tools and the expertise you can handle most simply roof repairs yourself. For everyone else, calling a roofer is in order. If the damage follows a weather event, contact your insurer first and file a claim.

When contacting a roofer there are several things to keep in mind as you go through the selection process. Yes, you will want to contact more than one roofer to get estimates.

First, find out if your roofer has a business address. Some people have the skills to do the roof, but not the business in place for you to call upon years later. Second, ask your roofer for proof insurance. Third, obtain at least three customer references and call them. Fourth, get a price that includes the entire cost of the job from stripping down your roof, buying new shingles and related materials, installing the same and hauling off debris. Your roof job should be completed within one or two days — make sure that your roofer is available to handle your project and yours alone until it is done.


University of Minnesota Extension: Ice Dams —

Don Vandervort’s Home Tips: How Roof Flashing Works —



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Categories: Roofing and Gutters

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".