- By: Eric Thomas
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Not all household damages and their fixes are created equal. Some, you can wait to address while others need to be repaired immediately. Roof leaks fall into the latter category. Roofing leaks can develop for a variety of reasons: improper roof installation, wind/storm damage, or simply lack of maintenance. Also, keep in mind that most roofs (depending on the material) are only meant to last 20 to 30 years so it could be that your roof has merely maxed out its longevity and it’s time to replace it.
So why is even a small leak in your roof such a critical issue? Most homeowners think a leaky roof is just a structural problem, but it can actually pose safety and even health risks. Constant water intrusion will eventually work down from the attic to the foundation of the house, causing costly damage along the way. The following are five of the less-apparent yet serious ways a roof leak can damage your home:
1. Attic and ceiling damage
Initially, roof leaks can cause damage to the attic area and items stored there. If there is no attic, or the leak is significantly large, it will damage the interior ceiling. Affected ceiling paint will darken and ceiling plaster may bubble or expand. The leaking water will also damage the paint and plaster on nearby walls. Homeowners can also expect ceiling-mounted lights and fans to sustain damage.
2. Interior mold and mildew issues
One of the most serious consequences of a leaking roof is the accumulation of mold and mildew. Mold can spread throughout the home’s structure, beginning with the HVAC system and continuing to the rest of the house through the vents, where it can invade carpets, furniture and even clothing. Black mold is the most common type resulting from chronic water intrusion. While black mold can be toxic, harmful black mold growth is rare. Nevertheless, non-toxic black mold attacks wood framing, ceiling tiles, and wall/floor coverings. The bottom line: Mold can be harmful, is difficult to get rid of, and is costly to eradicate.
3. Health concerns from mold
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, mold and mildew can lead to serious health issues, especially for individuals with high sensitivity, including nasal congestion, rhinitis, severe asthma, and other conditions affecting the lungs. As mentioned earlier, toxic black mold is particularly dangerous. Once mold is present, it continues to generate spores, leading to allergic reactions, asthmatic attacks, and other serious health symptoms and conditions.
4. Water damage-induced fire hazard
Electrical wiring and roof leaks don’t mix. A leaky roof can cause a fire if water causes the wires to spark and short out. If you notice leaking in your attic, turn off electricity to the affected area and call an electrician.
5. Slip and fall hazard
A severely leaking roof can cause water to accumulate on the floor. This may not seem like a tremendous risk, but for young children or elderly family members, it is a slip and fall hazard that could lead to serious injury. Clean up water immediately if you notice a leak.