The risks of neglecting your roof maintenance depends on a homeowner’s level of neglect and the length of time maintenance has been neglected. That really will determine the amount of damage repair the homeowner will have to deal with at the end of the day.
As a homeowner, it’s important to realize the home remains livable because of its vital systems; roofing, framing, foundation, electrical, plumbing and HVAC system. While the home’s roofing is responsible for protecting them all, when it is in disarray it will inevitably cause problems for all of the other systems.
The roof system is a protective and insulating system; Made up of the attic, roof, gutters and ventilation systems. Together, when they are each working correctly will help the roof to stay cool and dry which will extend the life of the roof, along with the home.
Although, when a roof’s maintenance is neglected, meaning water is allowed to accumulate where it shouldn’t and/or the roof remains wet or moist then unfortunately this will lead to problems. Left long enough these problems will grow and the cost of repairing it will grow equally, while affecting the homeowner’s health at the same time.
For the sake of the homeowner, we’ll categorize the risks based on length of time neglected to level of risk.
Naturally, the problems will worsen as they progress later on and can be prevented from progressing if caught early enough. While the timeframe of damage done really depends on the home’s location, it's condition and level of seasonal roof maintenance.
While early on into neglecting roof maintenance, the main risk is that leaks will inevitably form and will be the core reason why many other issues are caused when left alone. At this point the damage is isolated to the roof; Where repairs and maintenance can still rectify the problem in time to prevent further damage.
A neglected roof will inevitably leak at some point, water will seep into through the cracks or nail holes and will result in a host of problems when left alone; Expect leaks to enter through sensitive joints on the roof like where two roof planes meet, a roof plane meets a wall, etc. and roof protrusions like chimneys, air vents, etc. as the flashing or seals weaken over time.
Leaks and moisture buildup in the attic will cause any insulation to clump up, retaining water, and as cracks widen in the roof, more air will escape. This will lead to fluctuations in temperature in the attic, by extension the home, causing more moisture buildup and more leaks. It’s a vicious cycle.
Repairs are still manageable, being isolated to the roof at this point; Requiring patching any small holes and repairing any damaged flashing to prevent further leaks. Neglecting the costs of these repairs will grow quite quickly.
When issues with the roof start, these issues will loom over the homeowner who will worry about costs, previous bad experiences with contractors, dealing with multiple quotes and the uncertainty of the best way to fix the problem. An overwhelming experience, that leads to neglecting the problem longer, as it is neglected longer this anxiety and stress gets worse.
Branches can drop leaves onto the roof, and could potentially fall on the roof in the event of a storm. This gets worse with more trees and leaves in the area, all of this debris helps to block water and allows it to pool on the roof. Leading to further leaks and issues along with those leaks.
After leaks take place, this leads to water damage that can damage both the roof and home putting the entire home at risk. Meaning the problems are no longer isolated to the roof and other systems are being damaged, only a combination of major and minor repairs would restore the home/roof. Left alone, the roof problems are progressing faster and faster over time.
Neglected leaks will result in water damage to the attic/roof’s framing, any electrical wires or plumbing pipes, and drywall/plaster in the area; Normally, noticeable when it reaches the home’s ceilings in the form of bubbles and sagging, or dark streaks begin to form throughout the attic.
Water damage will enter the home’s framing, roof/attic’s framing and soften it over time. Naturally breaking down the structure of the wood back into soil as it does in nature. Unfortunately this will make a roof’s structure show signs of sagging, misshaping, etc. and the home’s structure will come out of misalignment; Causing problems for the entire home system.
Layering shingles traps water and heat between the shingles, making it more difficult to track down leaks of issues with the roof in general. Aside from shortening the life of the shingles, it will introduce more openings for the outside elements and pests to enter from. Left alone, a home’s structural integrity as well as utility disruptions are expected at some point.
Water damage from a lack of insulation causing moisture to build on the underside of the roof deck coupled with leaks eating through the boards. Makes for an unsafe situation when deciding to walk on the roof, as one soft board could lead to injury along with a hole in the roof.
Mold will grow anywhere damp and dark, anywhere in the roof system where water can accumulate; gutters, attic, ventilation and/or roof. Mold is a serious health risk, toxic enough to kill the elderly and infants while causing respiratory issues to everyone else; Some of the risks of poor attic ventilation in the roof system. Mold repairs on their own, is an expensive repair.
A roof left in disrepair will have cracks that will allow rodents, insects and other small animals to enter the home. These pests could be carrying diseases, leaving their waste in the attic and damaging any of the home’s vital systems they have access to. Posing both a health risk to the home’s occupants and disrupting utilities at the same time. In the case of bats or a pest on the extinction conservation list, will not be allowed to be evicted from the home and instead will be protected within it, for the homeowner’s information.
A roof left in disrepair will not insulate and protect against UV rays, allowing heat to be trapped in the home and attic. Aside from making the home really uncomfortable, similarly in winter it will release the heat for the homeowner. This excessive heat will only shorten the life of the shingles, create moisture buildup in the attic and lead to water damage.
A sign that the roof isn’t doing its job of insulating the home, allowing air to escape and forcing the HVAC and electrical system to work harder to keep it comfortable. Reasons being leaks that are entering through cracks and holes are not only enlarging these cracks, but also allowing air to escape as well.
Gutters left to overflow regularly, gutter left misaligned and downspouts left detached will help water to run back towards the home instead of away from it. This helps mold and water damage to affect the roof and home, while leading to a damaged foundation (flooded basement, damaged landscaping, etc.) which is a worst-case scenario. Also, the fascia, siding, soffits, vents will all see some form of damage that will be costly to repair.
A combination of minor and major repairs, quite costly as the damage involves the roof, framing and any affected utilities if a homeowner is lucky. Leaks could seep into unexpected areas and cascade across the home, meaning even after a repair there could be issues with the home/roof.
Family could be put at risk; Mold can be causing respiratory issues; Utilities disruptions could hurt someone; Pests carrying diseases and/or allowing multi-species to live within the home; Excessive water damage could cause framing or the home to collapse.
Leaks, water damage, mold, structural damage, etc. are all deterrents for prospective home buyers who don’t find the home aesthetically pleasing and expensive repairs a scary situation for them.
Being left in disrepair and maintenance being neglected, the homeowner would not have been clearing snow from the roof that is blocking water behind it. This will create further icing on the roof that will get under the shingles, easier as more ice accumulates, and leading to more leaks in the roof
Leaks that have made their way through the home’s ceiling will result in wet spots on the floors in the home. This can create algae growths and people could potentially slip on these spots, leading to unnecessary injuries.
A neglected roof will put the roof and its materials used under conditions that it wasn’t meant to be put under; Giving the manufacturer reason to not take responsibility for their roofing materials not performing as they were supposed to, avoiding the need to replace it on your behalf.
Upon roof inspection, an insurance provider will have difficulty quantifying the life expectancy of the roof and the amount of damage it has sustained. This will be enough for them to not offer coverage, putting the entire expense of the repair on the homeowner.
At this point, the water damage has caused excessive damage to the roof and home to the point it is no longer livable. Requiring a number of major repairs or an entire home tear down to restore the home. A point of no return.
The level of damage includes the roof, roof’s framing and multiple of the home’s vital systems are in disrepair. Nearly getting to the point where the home is unlivable, requires the home to be rebuilt in some cases.
When roof framing rots and dries out, mold is creating toxic odors throughout the home and electrical wires short to create electrical fires; as detailed in can a leaky roof cause electrical problems. This could easily turn into a toxic fire that isn’t safe for the homeowner to live in.
With a combination of mold, water damage, damaged utilities, compromised structural integrity, etc. the home becomes a fire hazard and a safety hazard to live in. The roof is an integral part that prevents the entire home from falling into disarray.
A neglected roof covered in moss, algae, and debris can significantly detract from your home's curb appeal.
An unsightly roof doesn't just affect you; it impacts your neighbors' views as well.
Your roof is more than just a cover; it's a shield against the elements that protects your home and everything inside it. Neglecting its maintenance can result in a multitude of risks, from structural damage to health hazards and financial losses. Regular roof maintenance might seem like a chore, but it's an investment in the longevity, safety, and value of your home.
Regular inspections should be conducted at least twice a year, preferably during spring and fall.
While minor tasks like cleaning gutters can be done by homeowners, it's advisable to hire professionals for more extensive maintenance to ensure safety and quality.
Look out for missing or damaged shingles, sagging spots, and water stains on the ceiling.
It depends on the cause of the damage. Damage due to neglect may not be covered, but sudden events like storms usually are.
Regular inspections, prompt repairs, and keeping the roof clean from debris can significantly extend its lifespan.