The Health and Financial Risks from Failing to Inspect Your Roof

A modern day horror story

What Gerald has experienced is far too common: a few torn or lifted shingles, dried caulking around a vent, a gap where the flashing meets the chimney, or even pest damage going unnoticed by a homeowner. That small access point allowed water to slowly and steadily work its way inside, collecting over time in the attic insulation, wood studs, and other permeable material within its reach. 

 

And that reach is a destructive one — undetected water damage, gaining entrance along the roof-line and helped along by the Pacific Northwest’s climate, can lead to widespread damage affecting the integrity, value, and safety of your home – and your health.

 

At some point, the material couldn’t hold any more water. Gerald noticed tell-tale signs of water damage on the drywall in the corner of the bedroom. It was the first time he realized there was an issue. 

 

Unfortunately, it had likely been months since the rain started getting inside. 

 

The contractor found the drywall damp and soft. Cutting into a small section to survey the damage revealed mold. Gerald was now faced with a major headache. They’d have to cut out more drywall. They’d need to find the source, remove all wet material, and dry out what couldn’t be removed. He’d likely need a mold remediation company. His insurance might not cover the cost. 

When the leak was traced back to water getting in around the flashing at the base of his chimney – damage caused by time – he realized all of this could have been avoided. A routine home inspection and maintenance would have prevented his current nightmare.

Water intrusion can lead to significant risks

Worse, most water intrusion doesn’t show immediately. Rafters and fibrous or blown-in insulation soak up and hold an abundance of water. It’s usually only after they reach a saturation point that leaks follow. 

As water takes the past of least resistance, the ensuing damage can show up a distance from the source. Water traces a path along beams and down walls. The longer the time-frame from the first intrusion to detection, the more costly, and dangerous (health risks associated with mold), the clean-up becomes.

The structural risks

Mold – It’s estimated that there may be as many as 300,000 different types of mold. Common indoor molds include:

  • Alternaria
  • Aspergillus
  • Cladosporium
  • Penicillium

 

And they can pose a serious health problem. “Molds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. It can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.”- EPA.gov

 

Think about how many of each day’s 24 hours are spent living under your roof, especially during our current pandemic’s stay-at-home directives.

Beyond the health concerns, mold remediation is an involved process. Depending on the scope of work and the type of mold found, there could be special requirements. You might need to be out of your home for the duration of the work. At a minimum, you’ll need to hire a professional (likely not covered by insurance – see below).

 

Weakened Structural Components – Water is insidious. Its steady damaging effects eventually impact structural components. While drywall and insulation are easily removed and replaced, beams, rafters, and roof decking aren’t, and require greater cost and time. 

It’s common for roofs with long-term water intrusion to have rotting decking – soft spots identifiable when ‘walking a roof’. Failure to catch leaks and potential points of water intrusion early will create a serious structural issue later.

Financial risks

Homeowners Insurance – there’s a good chance your policy will NOT cover part – or all – of the necessary repairs, especially mold remediation. 

Your homeowner’s policy may cover (now is a good time to check with your insurance agent), mold if a “covered peril” caused the damage. In that case, your home insurance policy will likely pay for mold removal, repairs, and clean-up.

However, there is an expectation that you maintain your home (as with roof warranties). This includes checking on, repairing, and replacing your roof as necessary.

Again, check with your agent, BUT damage resulting from failure to maintain your home is not usually covered. You will be out-of-pocket for a significant portion, if not all, of the expenses incurred. 

 

Decreased Home Value – Next to fire, no element has the destructive force of water. Even if all repairs have been made and all mold remediated, you may still be required to disclose this information (we recommend speaking with a licensed Realtor). Such a disclosure could lead to a buyer requesting a specialized inspection at your cost, and/or a reduction on the selling price, and/or backing out of the deal altogether. 

Some buyers may think twice about putting an offer in if they know there have been mold issues – even if properly addressed and an inspection shows no issues now.

Don’t place yourself and your family at risk

A small investment in an annual or bi-annual roof inspection will save you untold stress, time, and money down the road. Reach out to schedule yours now and eliminate potential health and financial risks.

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