Common Roof Leak Causes – What to Look For

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Common Roof Leak Causes

If you have an older or poorly installed roof, you may be wondering what the common roof leak causes are, and what to look for. Areas of particular concern, especially on aging roofs, include skylights, pipe flashings, the chimney, and vents.

At the Roofing Center, our expert team of professional roofers offers inspection, repair, and new roof installation services to our Montana, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho customers. In this guide, we’ll be discussing common causes of a leaky roof and what to look for when assessing for signs of water damage.

Skylights are one of the Common Roof Leak Causes

A skylight is a light-permitting window of glass that forms part of a roof to bring additional lighting to a space. They can light up a room, and many people love to install them as a unique, bright feature in their home.

As lovely as they are, improperly installed, aging, or unmaintained skylights can be a common source of water leaking in from your roof. A particular problem with skylights is that the raised edges can quickly accumulate debris if the roof is not regularly cleaned. As leaves and other debris build up around the edges, water can condense on the debris and find its way into tiny cracks around the skylight.

If you have a skylight, keeping the space around it clear of debris is crucial. If you’re noticing water leaking into your roof, make sure to check your skylight as debris build-up could be the culprit.

Pipe Flashings

Pipe flashing, or pipe boots, are another common source of water leaking into your roof. Even when a roof has a multi-decades-long warranty, the pipe flashing on the roof may only last a few years depending on its quality and how it was installed. The need for high-quality pipe flashing and high-quality, expert installation is an often overlooked necessity in roof installation.

Depending on the quality of the flashing, the gasket can often fail after so many years, and as it deteriorates, water can begin to seep in. Caulking can be a short-term fix for this problem until a higher-quality system is installed. Debris build-up around the flashing can also cause roof leaks in the same way as skylights. Finally, exposed flashing nails that corrode over time can cause water to seep in.

Chimneys are one of the Common Causes of Roof Leaks

Once again, old, low-quality, or improperly installed flashing is an often-see culprit for leaking roofs. Flashing installed around the base of a chimney can create a vulnerable area of the roof in which the base flashing and the counter flashing can become sources of leaks. Signs of bad flashing around a chimney can include soft or rotting roof sheathing around the chimney, curled or warped shingles in the adjacent and below area, and a strained ceiling surrounding the chimney.

Porous masonry on the chimney that cracks from freeze-thaw cycles can also be a cause of water leakage. With this type of leak, you’ll often see the face of bricks separated from the chimney and dark staining of bricks inside the chimney after rain.


Vents can be another tricky area on the roofs that can commonly cause leaks, especially plastics that are old and worn out. As the plastic of the vents age, it can peel up and become brittle. Water can easily enter these areas. Take note that you may not see signs of leaking on your ceiling directly below a vent, as the water can travel down the roof and the signs of the leak may show up in a different location.

So, regardless of where the leak appears, checking the state of your roof vents is a good diagnostic step.

Call in the Pros at the Roofing Center

At the Roofing Center, our highly qualified team of professional roofers can inspect, repair, or replace faulty sections of your roof that are causing leaks. As a 35+ year family-owned company with an A+ BBB rating and thousands of happy customers, you can rest assured that our team can handle your roofing needs. If you’re concerned about any of these common causes of roof leaks in your home or business, contact us today!

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