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"My roof was OK in Summer but leaks in Winter" or visa versa...

Posted on 11 December, 2013 at 9:14
As the holidays approach each year and our wardrobes and waistlines expand, the festive weather has quite the opposite affect on most of our building materials. In fact, for those of you living in older homes, this seasonal contraction may become audibly evident with the creaking and cracking you hear each night. The worst part may be that the various materials joined together in our buildings can have very different expansion (during summer) and contraction (during winter) rates. Adding to all this, the very ground beneath us is continuously going through the same gyrations. What's most interesting- and troublesome- is that the affects of these reactions are compounded at each elevation. In other words;
The ground effect adds to the footing's reaction;
The ground/footing effect adds to the wall frame's reaction;
The ground/footing/wall frame effect adds to the ceiling's reaction, etc.
Our poor roof's- which by themselves are usually most affected by seasonal changes, especially asphalt based roof materials- must also deal with the straining affects of everything beneath - Ground/Footing/Walls/Ceiling/ Roof Framing/Roof Sheathing.
As one might imagine, all this movement can take a terrible toll with each passing season and year. Some roof materials that seem impermeable to this - Metal & Cement Tile, etc. - can in fact be most frustratingly affected when leaks show up during one season and not the next.
It's not unusual for us to go do one of these repairs and have the homeowner tell us that the roof was repaired after it leaked last winter, didn't leak at all during the summer storms but when winter rains returned, it leaked again in the same spot. Or visa-versa with Summer leaks. While this can be explained by several variables, the expansion or contraction explanation is by far the most common culprit. During my 35+ years in this occupation, I've seen some pretty strange examples of these.
Many years ago, while crawling through an attic investigating a summer leak, water stained plywood led me to a lone nail as the source. Is seems summer expansion had opened up the nail hole enough to allow rainwater to seep through. Yet just a couple years ago, while investigating a winter leak in much the same way, I also narrowed the problem down to a single nail hole. Except in this case, contraction of the surrounding materials had actually pulled that nail loose, leaving the remaining hole as a leak source.
Another cause of winter leaks during freezing weather can be ice dams that form, allowing water to creep uphill into otherwise concealed gaps & openings. Even after the ice thaws, the subsequent trails can be a continued source of leaks, if not addressed properly. As I noted in another article on this site, cold weather can also be blamed for most of the buckling & cracking that occurs on asphalt based roofs. The resulting leaks can often hibernate until summer storms appear. But heat also provides
many unique challenges- Hot asphalt separating from attached materials, Breaks caused by this expansion, summer storm related effects, etc.
I realize, most of us- myself included- are not going to have our roof inspected every year. But with so many changes occurring with each season, every year, it is vital to your home's health- if not your own peace of mind- to get your roof checked out by a qualified, honest professional at least every 3 years.
Any professional roofer can find defects on ANY roof. It takes one with true integrity to point out only the defects which may have dire consequences if left unchecked.

Categories: Roof Repair Tips

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