Help! My Roof Vent Leaks During Heavy Rain

October 24, 2022

Every part of your roof is built to withstand a constant siege from the elements. From solar radiation beating down during the hottest times of year to ice and snow piling up on top of it during the dead of winter. The Portland/Vancouver area has arguably the most quietly punishing environment for a roof. Your roof is designed to keep the climate out when it becomes unpleasant outside, all the while insulating your home so that it can stay at whatever comfortable temperature you set it at.

Perhaps no task you set to your roof is more important, however, than keeping out water. Water damage can quickly become catastrophic, as it erodes thousands of dollars’ worth of property and encourages the growth of dangerous mold. Often, the leakage begins at your roof’s weak points, especially the vents. You aren’t powerless, however. Here’s what you can do if your roof vent leaks during heavy rain.

Why Are Roof Vents Vulnerable?

The vents of your roof are built to allow moisture out, and indeed, this is their most essential function. Moist, humid air, created by showers, laundry, cooking, and other activities, can do a great deal of damage to the home if it isn’t able to safely be ventilated away. Without an avenue for the humid air to make its way outside the home, the moisture will accumulate in various areas, ultimately causing the damage you are trying to avoid.

There are several types of roof vents, with the most common being known as a box vent. Box vents are simply installed over holes that are cut in the roof and are usually constructed of strong, inexpensive metal such as aluminum or plastic. These vents use simple convection—the principle that hot air rises upward—to allow humid air to exit the home.

Less common, but still a reasonably popular choice, the ridge vent is excellent for homeowners who are seeking a way to hide their roof vents. They run along the top of the roof and, just like the box vent, allow warm air to vent out by following its natural upward trajectory.

You may also have seen wind turbine roof vents. These are the vents with a mushroom shape that spins as they utilize wind power to draw humid air up and out of the home. These are most commonly seen on commercial properties but many homeowners swear by them because they can move air so effectively.

Each of these roof vent types is designed to be a one-way escape path for moisture. It should be able to get out, but not get back in. However, since installing a vent requires a hole to be made in the roof of the home and because they’re made from materials that can be compromised, such as aluminum by corrosion or plastic by freeze/thaw, they can eventually allow water in, especially when it rains heavily.

Tell-Tale Signs of a Leak

A leaking roof vent is not always going to be obvious at first, even when there is very heavy rainfall outside of the house. While you might expect that you’ll quickly see water dripping from the ceiling, often, the first signs are more subtle. Look for discolored spots; for example, a brown stain gradually getting larger on the ceiling can indicate water has entered the home through the roof.

If you enter the attic, you may also see areas that have become dark and spotted. You may also see other water stains, such as an obvious “dripping” pattern that is gradually darkening as more and more water gets in.

The top of the roof can also be a giveaway that its integrity has been compromised. Missing shingles, corroded parts, or other seemingly damaged areas can be sure signs that a leak will occur during heavy rain.

How To Test Your Vents for Leaks

It doesn’t need to be a rainy day outside to test if your roof vents are leaking. If you suspect they may be compromised, you can simply aim a garden hose at the area you believe may be leaking. Allow the water to thoroughly soak the area, and then head into the attic. You may not be able to immediately see the signs of a leak, but if you feel around with your fingers, you may detect moisture that has begun to seep through.

Remember that you don’t need to use a huge amount of water to detect a leak. If your roof vent leaks during heavy rain, that doesn’t mean you necessarily need to simulate heavy rain to detect a leak. You will, however, need to allow enough water to saturate the roof so that if there is a leaky area, it can reveal itself during the testing process.

Fixing the Leak

The next step, of course, is to repair the leak before it leads to severe damage. It’s possible, provided you have the proper equipment and training, to repair the leak yourself. You may be able to seal the leaks with materials such as roof caulking and metal patches (these patches are usually made from the same material as the original vents).

It’s important to keep safety in mind, however, if you decide to attempt to undertake the task yourself. You must have the proper safety equipment, including a roofing ladder and, fall protection equipment. You’ll also need closed-toe shoes, long pants, gloves, safety glasses, and a hard hat. You’ll also need the correct tools, including a roofing hammer, roofing stapler, and small crowbar.

For most people, attempting to DIY the project means spending a lot of money on equipment, as well as a great deal of time and risk. A far better option is to contact a professional from Interstate Roofing. A professional assessment can not only detect any leaks and repair them but address any other potential issues with your roof, ensuring that it can protect your home and its inhabitants for many years to come.