How to Fix the 5 Most Common Roof Leaks in Bluffton, South Carolina

Finding the dreaded brown spot on your Bluffton, South Carolina, ceiling is extremely concerning. After a while, that water can break through your ceiling and leave you scrambling to find buckets or pots to catch the water.

You don’t know what kind of damage your leak is doing to your Bluffton home. You might even find mold that can harm you and your family.

Here at Lowcountry Roof Repairs, we want you to know what could be causing your leak. We want you to be as informed as possible about something as stressful as a leaky roof.

Let’s look at the five most common roof leaks that can occur in your Bluffton home, where they’ll show up, and how to repair them.

1. Pipe Boot Failure

The most common cause of a leak that we see in Bluffton is where a boot around a pipe fails. A boot is a type of roof flashing that goes around the base of pipes coming out of your roof and waterproofs them.

There are different kinds of boots a roofer could use such as lead, plastic, copper, etc. Whatever the material, the main job of a pipe boot is to stop water from following the pipe down through your roof and into your home.

Pipe boots will not last the life of the roof. Manufacturers have changed the compound over recent years, but it still will not outlast your shingles. The pipe boot should last around 10 years, but different factors (location, weather, animals) will ultimately decide how long one will last.

Where will the roof leak show up?

The leak can show up in the master bedroom, bathroom, closet, etc. It’s going to be wherever that pipe is located on the roof. Looking at your roof in the general area of the leak will show you which pipe is causing water to get into your home.

How is the roof leak repaired?

The simplest way to repair this leak is to install a little rubber collar over the top of the cracked boot. The collar will encase the existing flange (the flat rectangular flashing around the bottom of the pipe) and should last you about 10 years.

2. Improperly Driven Nails

The second most common cause of leaks in your Bluffton home is when a roofing nail backs out of shingles. Whether it’s air nailed or hand nailed, if the nail hits good wood, holds tight and snug, and isn’t overdriven, then you shouldn’t have a problem with it.

However, if a nail isn’t driven in far enough or driven in sideways, it will cause the head of the nail to work its way back up through the shingle. When it rains, water catches the head as it comes down your roof and follows the nail right inside.

This doesn’t happen to just roofing nails used on shingles, but also the decking nails. If the decking nail didn’t hit wood when the framing was done, then the sun has a way of drawing that nail out through the shingle.

Where will the leak show up?

The leak could show up anywhere. Wherever the improperly driven nail is located on the roof is where water will drop down in your Bluffton home.

How is the roof leak repaired?

To repair the leak, the roofer will have to break the seal on the shingle, lift the shingle up, pull the nail out, and move it. If the nail wasn’t driven straight, then they’ll have to pull the nail out, drive it in properly, and lay some ice and water shield on top of it. If the nail worked its way through the shingle, then they’ll reseal the shingle as well.

If the decking nail didn’t hit wood, then it’s just a matter of moving the nail over so that it catches the rafter. Then they’ll fill the nail hole with some type of cement and reseal the shingle back down.

3. Debris in Gutters that Stop above a Roofline under a Valley

A valley is when two roof slopes meet in a V shape that allows water to flow down a roof freely. When a valley stops in the middle of a roof, it will have a gutter that runs into it so the water can continue flowing down. The problem is with the fascia, which is the board that runs along the lower edge of the roof that carries all the gutters. When there’s no flashing applied to the fascia board, a leak can happen.

The leak won’t usually happen under normal circumstances. It might be under extreme rain (like the kind we can have in Bluffton) but when that gutter in the valley gets filled with leaves and other debris, it’ll send water through the path of least resistance. Once that water gets under the soffit (the finished underside of the lower edge of a sloped roof) behind the gutter, it can go anywhere it wants, causing all kinds of damage.

Where will the roof leak show up?

The leak will show up wherever the water goes once it gets underneath the soffit. The location of the gutter will determine the area of your home the water will enter.

How is the roof leak prepared?

Repairing this leak is as simple as loosening the gutter and installing 3 pieces of flashing. The flashing is brought behind the gutter and onto the roof and then the last piece is tucked under the valley.

4. Chimney Wear and Tear

There are several ways a chimney can leak. It could be the metal flashing that goes under the shingles surrounding the chimney. If it’s brick, it could be the mortar joints or even the bricks themselves could get so saturated that water will start coming into the interior of your home causing damage to walls and the ceiling.

It can also be water coming down through the top of the chimney. For example, a masonry top could be cracked from being wet. And a metal top could be just old and rusted or the fasteners that hold it could have come loose.

In chimney siding, water can get in the corners where the siding butts into the corner boards. Not only can those boards rot out, but so can boards behind the chimney that you can’t see

Whatever the reason your chimney is leaking, you won’t know the extent of the damage until a roofer gets up there and does an inspection.

Where will the roof leak show up?

A leak from a saturated chimney will weep water into the walls around the fireplace. For chimney caps, the leak will happen inside the fireplace.

How is the leak repaired?

If the roof leak is from flashing around the chimney then a roofer will just go in and reflash the area around it. If it’s from the mortar joints then they’ll have to apply a masonry water repellent to seal it.

To repair the leak in chimney siding you’ll need to hire a competent carpenter or siding man. For the chase top of the chimney, you’ll need to hire a licensed chimney sweep company for repairs.

Most roofers are not going to have the proper licenses (and more importantly insurance) to perform this kind of work on a chimney. But a roofer should be able to diagnose the problem for you.

5. Collar Failure around a Gas Vent

A gas vent is a metal pipe with a cap that comes through the roof. They are incredibly important because they make sure any carbon monoxide coming from gas appliances vents out through the roof.

Most of the time these vents are installed by HVAC workers after the roof has been completed. However, they aren’t always trained properly on roofing techniques. They’ll slide a collar over an unsealed pipe and flange thinking it will shed the rain right off of it.

Under normal circumstances that works. But in a torrential Lowcountry downpour water can splash under the collar and lead to water running down the pipe.

Where will the roof leak show up?

The area around the gas appliance connected to the leaking gas vent pipe is where the water will be. You don’t want carbon monoxide going anywhere in your home, so never try to figure out which gas vent is causing the leak. Leave that up to a professional for you and your family’s protection.

How is the roof leak repaired?

Since this kind of leak is around an HVAC component it’s difficult and a little tricky for a roofer to repair. What a roofer can do is very carefully raise the collar up, seal it with a dark color caulk and then slide the metal collar back down into the sealer.

Because of the importance of these pipes, roofers have to be very careful when trying to repair the leak so that carbon monoxide doesn’t go inside the house.

Do You Need to Hire a Roofing Contractor to Repair Your Bluffton Roof?

If you’re a handy person or someone with construction experience you can probably repair some of these yourself.

Just be warned, repairing these incorrectly can lead to bigger problems. The difference in quality between doing it yourself versus a certified contractor can be drastic.

Your safety is another thing to keep in mind if you choose to repair these yourself. If you’re not used to being on a ladder or walking on a roof, then you shouldn’t be up there….period. No amount of money you try to save to repair it yourself is worth your safety.

The one thing you definitely should do is hire a contractor to inspect your roof on an annual basis. They’ll be able to catch most of the problems in this article before they cause damage to the interior of your home. Regular roof maintenance is the key to stopping a leak before it happens.

When Should You Call a Roofing Contractor to Repair Your Bluffton Roof Leak?

As soon as you notice the leak. The quicker you get the leak looked at, the better. You have no idea what hidden damage is being done. If you have one leak, then chances are that another potential problem is about to show somewhere else.

The entire roof should be inspected when a roofer comes to take a look at a leak.

Lowcountry Roof Repairs has many years of experience in Bluffton and the surrounding Lowcountry repairing all the leaks we have talked about in this article and more. When you need a leak fixed we’re confident that we can take care of it and give you peace of mind.

Call us today at 843-258-2716.

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