A small leak in the roof should never be ignored, as even the smallest leaks can lead to major damage if they are allowed to go on long enough. Here are some reasons why.
1. Interior Mold
Although you may not notice water leaking into the home from a single damaged shingle, moisture could still be seeping into your attic slowly. The increased level of damp also increases the chances of mold growth, both in the attic and throughout the home. Mold can be difficult to eradicate once it begins to grow in the home. Mold spores give an entire home a musty odor, and they can cause respiratory problems in some people.
2. Insulation Issues
The insulation in your attic can act like a sponge, which is one reason why leaks go unnoticed. The insulation soaks up the moisture so water never leaks into the main living areas of your home. Not only does the moisture ruin the insulating qualities of the insulation, but it can also lead to increased mold growth. Further, insulation holds moisture up against wooden ceiling components, like rafters, which can lead to wood rot.
3. Shingle Loss
Although damage may initially affect only one shingle, eventually, the water seepage through the damaged shingle will begin to compromise the integrity of the neighboring shingles. They may begin to curl as moisture seeps beneath them and causes the neighboring shingles to fail. Eventually, what began as a small, easily repairable leak in one shingle can lead to extensive damages across many shingles. The only solution may be a whole new roof.
4. Decking Damage
The roof decking is made of plywood sheets, which the shingles are then attached to. When moisture gets beneath a single damaged shingle, it is absorbed by the decking board. As more moisture soaks in, it can spread until neighboring decking boards are also affected. Eventually, the wood decking will begin to soften and rot from the prolonged moisture exposure. Normally, a roof replacement only requires shingle replacement. If the decking is damaged and requires replacement, the cost of a new roof will be much higher.
5. Structural Problems
If a damaged shingle is ignored long enough, moisture can eventually affect wood roof trusses and rafters. These structural components can develop rot, or they may warp as the moisture causes wood fibers to swell. This compromises the structural integrity of the roof, which can lead to expensive repairs.
Contact a roofer if you have a damaged shingle so you can avoid more expensive problems later.