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What Causes Roof Rot? Signs, Solutions, and Prevention Tips

It’s common for homeowners to ignore their roofs for a long time if they don’t notice problems with the structure. Unfortunately, roof rot can fly under the radar, creating major damage that jeopardizes the structural integrity of a roofing system and the building it covers. So, what exactly causes roof rot, and why does it occur?

The crew at Forever Exteriors, a reputable roof repair company in Raleigh, NC, knows the consequence of letting roof problems linger until it’s too late. In the guide below, these qualified professionals outline the various causes of roof rot, how to prevent it, and what you can do if your property has already sustained damage. 

What Is Roof Rot?

Even if you don’t have a roof with wooden tiles or shakes, it can develop roof rot if you’re not careful. The term refers to the decomposition of a roofing system’s wood components, including the decking, beams, and trusses. 

The problem with a rotting roof is that any affected areas will eventually lead to others. The rot will weaken the entire roofing system, resulting in the need for roof replacement. If you catch the problem early enough, qualified roofers may be able to repair the damage to prevent the need for a premature roof replacement.

What Can Lead to Rot on Your Roof?

Roof rot comes in two varieties: wet rot and dry rot. Though both can cause major structural damage if left unchecked, they’re not identical problems. Wet rot is more common and results from moisture issues, while dry rot is primarily due to a fungal infestation that contributes to wood decay.

Moisture is the primary culprit for most roofs. Many factors can contribute to wet rot, including the following:

  • Condensation in the attic
  • Attic humidity from temperature changes
  • Lack of sufficient roof ventilation
  • Water leaks from roof damage

Ice dams are another problem that can lead to roof rot. If your roof collects a lot of snow and ice in the winter, the precipitation could melt under direct sunlight. Yet, when temperatures drop, the melted water will freeze along the edge of your roof and create an ice dam. 

If water collects on your roof and can’t drain properly into the gutters, the excess moisture seeps under the roofing material, reaching the wood structures underneath. If you don’t address the roofing problem quickly, this moisture will affect the roof decking, attic, insulation, walls, and ceilings. 

When excess water is present under or on top of a roof, it creates the perfect environment for moss and algae to flourish. As the growths spread over the roof, fungi can also develop, quickening the rotting process by creating more holes and cracks in wooden structures and allowing more water in. 

This vicious cycle of damage and moisture seepage makes the roof increasingly susceptible to decay.

Top Warning Signs of a Rot-Damaged Roof

The best way to avoid a total roofing system failure is to know how to identify roof rot. The more attention you pay to your structure, the more likely you’ll spot the warning signs and take the appropriate action.

Though you should schedule annual roof inspections with an experienced roofing contractor, don’t hesitate to call the professionals for help if you notice these potential roof rot warning signs:

  • Mold, algae, or moss growth on the roof
  • Dark spots on wooden roofing materials and structures
  • Sagging roof
  • Water stains on interior walls and ceilings
  • A musty odor in your attic
  • Cracked roof flashing
  • Premature shingle deterioration
  • A spongy feel to the roof’s wooden support structures
  • White fungal growth on wood
  • Fascia discoloration

How To Prevent Roof Rot

The prevention of roof rot starts with scheduling routine roof inspections. The assessments should cover every aspect of the roofing system, not just its shingles or tiles. When skilled roofing contractors inspect a roof, they can quickly uncover problems that could lead to wood rot. 

For instance, if you have a few missing or damaged shingles, the roofers can replace them during the inspection. Without the benefit of an experienced eye, the damaged shingles will continue allowing water to seep under them, resulting in moisture problems that contribute to rot and decay. 

Ensuring your home’s roof has enough ventilation can reduce the amount of humidity and condensation that develops under a roofing system. Venting soffits, ridge vents, and open rafter systems are great for improving attic and roof ventilation.

How To Address a Rotting Roof

In some cases, roofers may repair a rotting roof. This solution is usually only feasible if the affected area hasn’t weakened the system’s structural integrity. In other words, the roof could have decay that has yet to reach any of the beams or joints holding the structure up. 

Before the roofers can repair the roof, they must chisel out the damaged wood. If there are parts they can’t remove without jeopardizing the roofing’s structural integrity, they may apply a reinforcing compound to strengthen the good wood around the damaged area.

For most cases, replacement is the ideal solution to roof rot. It’s more complicated than repair and involves removing the rotting wood, deep cleaning the area, and replacing new wood structures with a preservative coating.

If you need help getting a roof replacement to address extensive roof rot, you can research government programs offering assistance. You can also count on a reputable roofing company offering affordable rates and financing to make even the most complex project financially feasible.

Get Expert Help for Your Rotting Roof in Raleigh

Any suspicion of roof rot warrants a call to a qualified roofing company like Forever Exteriors. This fully licensed and insured roofing contractor offers comprehensive roof repair and replacement services. Their experienced, well-trained roofers can quickly and thoroughly evaluate your property for all types of roof damage, determine the cause of the rot, and recommend the best long-term solution. 

Reach out to Forever Exteriors today to request a roof inspection in Raleigh, NC, or the surrounding communities. 

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