Metal roofs are celebrated for their durability, longevity, and resistance to the elements. However, like any roofing system, they can experience issues over time, with leaks being one of the most common problems.

Understanding the causes of metal roof leaks and knowing how to address them can save homeowners a significant amount of time, money, and stress.

In this blog, we’ll examine six typical causes of metal roof leaks and explore various repair options.

We’ll also provide practical advice for maintenance and prevention, ensuring your metal roof remains in top condition for years to come.

Improper Installation

Cause

One of the leading causes of metal roof leaks is improper installation.

Metal roofs require precise installation techniques, and even minor errors can lead to significant issues.

Common installation mistakes include misaligned panels, incorrect placement of fasteners, inadequate sealing, and poor flashing around roof penetrations such as vents, chimneys, and skylights.

Detailed Explanation

During installation, metal panels need to be aligned correctly to ensure that the overlaps are tight and secure.

Misalignment can create gaps where water can seep through.

Fasteners must be placed in the suitable locations and tightened to the correct torque.

Over-tightening can damage the panels, while under-tightening can leave gaps.

Flashing, which seals roof penetrations, must be properly installed and sealed to prevent water ingress.

Repair Options

Re-securing Fasteners: Inspect the roof for loose or missing fasteners.

Replace any missing fasteners and tighten those that are loose. To ensure a secure fit, it’s essential to use the correct type and size of fasteners.

Correcting Flashing: Check the flashing around all roof penetrations.

If the flashing is improperly installed or damaged, remove it and install new flashing, ensuring it is securely sealed with high-quality caulk or roofing cement.

 

metal roofing repair

 

Professional Inspection: If you suspect that your metal roof was not installed correctly, it’s wise to hire an experienced roofing contractor to conduct a thorough inspection

A professional can identify and correct installation errors, ensuring your roof is properly sealed and secure.

Ageing and Wear

Cause

Even the best-installed metal roofs can experience wear and tear over time.

Exposure to harsh weather conditions, such as heavy rain, snow, hail, and intense sunlight, can degrade the protective coatings on metal panels.

Over the years, this can result in rust, corrosion, and physical damage, such as warping or cracking.

Detailed Explanation

Metal roofs are coated with protective layers to prevent rust and corrosion.

However, these coatings can deteriorate due to constant exposure to the elements. Rust and corrosion weaken the metal panels, making them more susceptible to leaks.

Additionally, thermal cycling (the process of heating and cooling) can cause metal panels to expand and contract, leading to warping and cracking over time.

Repair Options

Rust Treatment: If you notice rust on your metal roof, it’s crucial to address it promptly.

Use a wire brush to remove the rust, then apply a rust-inhibiting primer to the affected areas. Once the primer has dried, apply a high-quality paint designed for metal roofs to protect against further corrosion.

Sealant Application: For small cracks and gaps, use a high-quality roof sealant to cover the affected areas.

Ensure the sealant is compatible with your metal roof material.

Panel Replacement: In cases of extensive damage, such as severe rust, warping, or cracking, replacing the damaged panels may be necessary.

Consult a professional roofing contractor to assess the extent of the damage and recommend the best course of action.

Poor Maintenance

Cause

Neglecting regular maintenance is a common reason for metal roof leaks.

Debris accumulation, unchecked rust, and ignored minor damages can all contribute to water penetration over time.

Regular maintenance is essential to keep your metal roof in good condition and prevent leaks.

Detailed Explanation

Leaves, branches, dirt, and other debris can accumulate on your roof, trapping moisture and promoting rust and corrosion.

Over time, this can lead to the degradation of metal panels and seams.

Additionally, small damages, such as minor cracks or loose fasteners, can worsen if left unaddressed, eventually leading to significant leaks.

Repair Options

Regular Cleaning: Keep your roof free from debris by regularly cleaning it.

Use a broom or leaf blower to remove leaves, branches, and dirt.

Avoid using pressure washers, as they can damage the protective coatings on metal panels.

Routine Inspections: Schedule regular roof inspections, ideally twice a year (in spring and fall) and after significant weather events.

Look for signs of damage, rust, or wear, and address any issues promptly.

Timely Repairs: Don’t ignore minor damages.

Repair minor cracks, gaps, and loose fasteners as soon as you notice them to prevent more significant issues from developing.

Thermal Movement

Cause

Metal roofs are subject to thermal movement, which is the expansion and contraction of metal panels due to temperature changes.

This thermal movement can cause fasteners to loosen and panels to shift, creating gaps where water can enter.

Detailed Explanation

The metal expands when heated and contracts when cooled.

This natural process can put stress on the fasteners and seams of a metal roof.

Over time, fasteners can loosen, and panels can shift, leading to gaps and misalignments. These gaps can allow water to penetrate the roof, causing leaks.

Repair Options

Flexible Fasteners: Use fasteners designed to accommodate thermal movement.

These fasteners allow the metal panels to expand and contract without loosening.

Expansion Joints: Install expansion joints in your metal roof.

Expansion joints are designed to absorb the movement caused by temperature changes, reducing the stress on fasteners and seams.

Regular Monitoring: Monitor areas prone to thermal movement, such as large roof sections and areas around penetrations.

Regularly inspect these areas and make adjustments or reinforcements as needed.

Penetrations and Openings

Cause

If not correctly sealed, any penetration or opening in the roof, such as those for vents, chimneys, skylights, or HVAC systems, can be a potential leak source.

Water can easily find its way through even the most minor gaps around these penetrations.

Detailed Explanation

Penetrations and openings create weak points in the roof where water can infiltrate.

Flashing is used to seal these areas, but if the flashing is improperly installed, damaged, or deteriorated, it can lead to leaks.

Additionally, the seals around penetrations can degrade over time, especially if they are exposed to harsh weather conditions.

Repair Options

Quality Flashing: Ensure that all penetrations are properly flashed and sealed.

Use high-quality flashing materials and ensure they are securely attached to both the roof and the penetration.

Sealing Gaps: Use waterproof sealants to fill any gaps or cracks around penetrations.

Make sure the sealant is compatible with the materials used on your roof.

Professional Sealing: Consider hiring an experienced roofer to ensure that all penetrations are adequately sealed.

A professional can apply the correct techniques and materials to ensure a watertight seal.

Faulty Seams and Overlaps

Cause

The seams and overlaps between metal panels are critical points that can fail over time. Improper sealing, poor artistry, or deterioration of sealants can lead to leaks at these joints.

Detailed Explanation

Metal roof panels are joined together at seams and overlaps.

If these joints are not correctly sealed during installation, or if the sealant deteriorates over time, water can seep through.

 

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Additionally, movement caused by thermal expansion and contraction can stress these joints, leading to gaps and leaks.

Repair Options

Seam Inspections: Regularly inspect the seams and overlaps on your metal roof for signs of wear or damage. Look for gaps, cracks, or deteriorated sealant.

Re-sealing: Apply new sealant to any areas showing signs of deterioration.

Use a high-quality sealant that is compatible with your metal roof material and ensure it is applied correctly.

Professional Repairs: In cases of extensive seam failure, professional repairs may be necessary.

A professional roofer can assess the condition of the seams and overlaps and apply the appropriate repairs to ensure a watertight seal.

Conclusion

Metal roofs are a durable and long-lasting option for many homes and buildings, but they do have potential issues.

By understanding the common causes of metal roof leaks and knowing how to address them, you can maintain the integrity of your roof and protect your property.

Regular maintenance, timely repairs, and professional inspections are crucial to preventing leaks and extending the life of your metal roof.

If you’re experiencing issues with your metal roof or want to ensure it’s in top condition, contact us today for a comprehensive roof inspection and expert repair services. Don’t wait until a small leak becomes a significant problem—reach out to us at Eagle Watch Roofing, our experienced team now!

FAQs

How often should I inspect my metal roof?

It’s recommended that you inspect your metal roof at least twice a year, in the spring and fall and after any significant weather events.

Can I repair a metal roof leak myself?

Homeowners with the right tools and materials can often repair minor leaks and issues.

However, if the damage is extensive or you’re unsure about the repair process, it’s best to hire a professional.

What are the signs of a leaking metal roof?

Common signs of a leaking metal roof include water stains on ceilings or walls, drips or moisture inside the building, and visible rust or damage on the roof surface.

How long do metal roofs typically last?

Metal roofs can last 40-70 years, depending on the material and quality of installation and maintenance.