11 Causes of Roof Leaks in Winter

Why is my roof leaking? It’s one of the most common queries from people throughout winter – and an important one too. Knowing what’s caused your roof leak is step one in repairing it to stop water getting in.

In this post, we’ll break down the potential roofing issues that create leaks – as well as the factors that can cause them in the first place.

What causes roof leaks?

First things first, here are some of the problems that might occur on your roof to allow water through…

1. Loose tiles

One of the most frequent causes of roof leaks in winter is tiles coming loose. It can go unnoticed because they still blend in with other tiles – not to mention that people don’t look at their own roof very often.

Take a look up from ground level outside your house (across the road might be best), and check whether all tiles are straight and uniform.

2. Missing tiles

After coming loose, tiles can slip out of place altogether. Again, you might not notice because tiles typically overlap – so there won’t be a visible gap in your roof. However, it can still let water in and cause a leak.

Tiles won’t always fall to the ground, where you would notice them. In many cases, they’ll fall into your gutters – which can cause issues in itself by blocking the flow of water or cracking the guttering.

3. Cracked tiles

While roofing tiles all have a lifespan of several decades, the materials can eventually weaken and break. That’s more common for concrete tiles, which are expected to last around 30 years, while clay tiles stay intact for about 50 years and slate for up to a century.

Even the smallest crack will allow water through, which can cause the crack to get bigger if it freezes and expands repeatedly.

4. Flashing

No, we’re not talking about lights. Flashing is the material that stops rain getting in around protrusions on your roof. Usually made from metals like lead, steel or copper, it’s used to weatherproof things like chimneys, skylights and flues.

Over time, it can come loose, allowing water to seep in around those protrusions

5. Roof joins

Protrusions aren’t the only area where roofs have to be well sealed. There are also the joins between different roof planes. On a simple two-plane roof, that will be the ridge at the top of the roof. However, larger, more complex roof designs can have several ridges and valleys – all of which need to be properly joined and waterproofed.

6. Chimney issues

Aside from the structure of your roof itself, chimneys can also have a range of problems that lead to leaks. If chimneys aren’t adequately capped, an excess of water can get in, which eventually makes its way to your roof space. Alternatively, the brickwork may be letting water through due to worn down mortar or wind-driven rain.

And what causes those issues?

The issues listed above are often seen as the cause of roof leaks. While they are the reason water is getting in, they’re not the root cause of the problem. Here are some reasons why the problems above may have occurred…

7. Poor work

It will come as no surprise that poor workmanship is one of the most common underlying causes of roofing problems in winter. The likes of missing tiles, loose flashing and leaking chimneys shouldn’t be recurring issues. If they are, it may be down to your roofer making quick, inadequate fixes and – funnily enough – not identifying the root cause of your roof’s problems.

8. Lack of work

While poor work is one issue, another is a lack of work altogether. A good roof can last several decades, but it needs the right maintenance. And inevitably, there will come a time when it needs replacing. All too often, the true cause of roof leaks is simply the neglect of your roof.

Recommended annually, a professional roof inspection will nip small issues in the bud with affordable repairs to extend the lifespan of your roof. Alternatively, you can get the sudden news that your roof needs to be replaced, well before you were expecting it.

9. Rooftop equipment

As well as being the umbrella to your property, your roof may be home to some additional equipment like aerials or solar panels. The installation or maintenance of these items sometimes requires tradespeople to get on your roof, meaning that they can cause roofing problems if they’re not careful.

In some cases, leaks could even be caused by an untrained roofer who was meant to be fixing a problem, not causing one!

10.  Nature

Nature is all around us and it can sometimes cause your roof to leak. In high winds, branches can be carried through the air and damage your roof by cracking tiles or even breaking through the roof altogether. We’ve all seen those horror stories of trees falling into roofs.

Birds have also been known to cause issues to roofs when nesting – though this only applies to roofs with pre-existing problems for birds to exploit.

11. Weather

Last but not least there’s the weather. High winds and heavy rain can cause roof leaks throughout winter, simply because they’re worse compared to other times of the year. While this is seldom the original cause of leaks, it explains why the leaks often become apparent in winter – despite the actual break in your roof being present before that.

Stop your roof leaking in winter

If you want to stop your roof leaking this winter, there are two options to choose from:

  • Reactive repairs to fix the cause of leaks when they become apparent
  • Proactive maintenance to prevent leaks happening in the first place

At DPR Roofing in Huddersfield, we can assist with both. Whether you want your roof inspected before the worst of the weather hits or you need help with an existing leak in your roof, our team is on hand with 30 years of experience and a wealth of roofing know-how.

To get the ball rolling, simply call us on 01484 866 772 or email [email protected].