Don’t Let a Small Hole in the Roof Turn Into a Big Problem

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A hole in your roof can be truly bad news unless you get prompt repair. To detect any possible holes, keep your eyes open for the following signs of damage to your roofing, particularly after a heavy rain or snowstorm.

Common Reasons for a Hole in the Roof

Tree Damage
Powerful winds can knock a branch or even an entire tree onto your roof, gouging a hole. Check the roof in the aftermath of an especially severe storm.

Nail Hole
An empty nail hole or an incorrectly placed nail may not seem like a major deal, but either of these may spell big trouble for your roof.

Satellite Dish Removal
If you’re removing an old satellite dish and decide to take down the mount as well, you’ll leave behind holes in your roof from the attachment screws.

Seals around Penetrations
Roof penetrations, like vents, chimneys, or skylights, must be well sealed. A broken or inadequate seal literally opens your roof up to problems.

Rust or Rot
With time and weather exposure, a metal roof could develop rust holes. Similarly, wooden roofing components may eventually rot.

Poor Quality Roof Repair
Repairs by an amateur or unscrupulous roofer just might leave the situation in worse shape, especially if the would-be repairperson walks around on your roof.

Dangers of a Hole in Your Roof

It’s a really, really bad idea to ignore even the tiniest hole in your roof, because that can lead to:

Roof material damage. Even a small amount of moisture penetration can damage the roofing materials and left untreated, will only end up getting worse (meaning more expensive – possibly lots more expensive -- to repair).

Health hazard. Humidity that gets into your house via a hole in the roof will eventually lead to mold and mildew. These are hazardous to the health, especially for someone who suffers from asthma or other breathing difficulties, has a compromised immune system, or is an infant or elderly.

Critter access. Another danger is that a hole in your roof “invites” all kinds of unwanted animal life inside. Think squirrels, mice, or raccoons.

Warning Signs of a Hole in the Roof

Check your attic for one or more of the following warning signs of a hole in the roof:

  1. Dripping. While water dripping from the attic ceiling is an obvious indication of a hole in the roof, it’s often not so easy to pinpoint the hole’s location. It could be several feet away from the drip.

  2. Damp areas on your ceiling or walls. In your attic or upstairs, surfaces may actually be moist to the touch, or simply appear discolored. Unusual wall or ceiling bulges and peeling paint are also clues that you might have leakage from a hole in your roof.

  3. Visible daylight. Inspect your attic on a sunny day. If you can spy one or more patches of daylight through the ceiling, unless your home is equipped with skylights, you’ve got a hole in your roof.

  4. Missing or cracked shingles. If you can safely perform a roof inspection, check your shingles. Missing or cracked roofing shingles may mean a hole in the roof.

Repair a Hole in Your Roof

You may be able to make a minor DIY roof repair IF (and only if):

  • the hole in your roof is small and accessible
  • your roof is basically sound and within its expected lifetime (20 years for an asphalt shingle roof)
  • you have solid knowledge of home improvement and roof safety – plus a proper roofing ladder, good non-skid shoes, and a buddy to assist you.

Otherwise, it’s a much better idea to hire a reliable roofing contractor who can fix up the hole professionally.

Once the roof repair is complete, treat related problems, such as mold or bubbling paint.  

Laura Firszt writes for

Updated April 19, 2018.

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