Homeowner's Guide to Buckling Roof Shingles (Expert Advice)

June 14, 2021

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If you’re a homeowner asking, why is my roof buckling, it’s vital you understand the potential causes of this issue and how to address it, as roof damage only gets more extensive over time. In some cases, a damaged roof can even outright collapse!

Curling and buckling shingles often result from water damage to the roof decking or underlayment, or from poor roof ventilation. Poor-quality roof installation can also result in buckled, curled, or otherwise damaged shingles and roofing layers.

Knowing why your roof is buckling is not enough, as property owners also need to know how to address this damage and its causes, to avoid future cracking and shingle buckling! It’s also helpful to consider added signs of a bad roof so you know when to schedule repairs or a replacement.

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Before you go another day or, worse yet, another year without needed roof repairs, check out some vital information about roof buckling and curling shingles, and how to address this problem. You can then discuss your options with a roof repair contractor near you, and ensure your home or commercial structure is always in good repair!

Why Is My Roof Buckling?

To better understand why a roof might be buckling, first note how a home’s roof is built so you can better understand the damage it might suffer over the years. This can also help you better understand how to care for that roof properly, avoiding future damage and premature replacement costs.

  • A home’s framing makes up the shape and foundation of a roof. Outside roof layers are then built on those framing rafters or trusses.
  • Plywood sheets, called roof decking or sheathing, are attached to that framing.
  • Underlayment is added to the plywood, to protect it from water damage and to improve a home’s interior insulation.
  • A felt ice and water barrier is typically added on top of that insulation. This also protects a roof from water damage and provides a smooth foundation for shingles and tiles, so they lay flat and even!
  • Roof covering is typically the last roofing layer; this refers to shingles, tiles, metal panels, or other such materials.
  • Additional waterproofing or insulating layers might be added to any of these roofing layers, depending on its overall construction.
  • A roof will also have vents, to let heat and humidity out of interior spaces. Plumbing vents run through the roof also allow sewage odors to escape the home while creating a vacuum throughout the pipes, encouraging proper water flow.

Damage to any of the layers underneath the roof covering can result in buckled, curled, or rippled shingles and other damage. If the roof’s vents are blocked, as an example, humidity can get trapped in a home’s upper levels or attic where it is then absorbed by the roof decking.

As the decking crumbles and cracks, this leads to buckled shingles. This can also happen with the roof’s underlayment; if it absorbs humidity and moisture, it might start to shrink or expand, which then allows roof shingles and tiles to crack, curl, or buckle.

A faulty ice barrier can also mean water buildup on the roof and damaged shingles. As some materials degrade, this can also pull on shingles and tiles, leading to cracks, buckling, and other such damage.

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Poor-quality installation can also result in premature buckling and other damage, as said. If a roofer doesn’t use enough nails per shingle or doesn’t place them properly, those shingles can pull away from the underlayment and then start to curl or crumble. Tar lines, or adhesive strips on each shingle, also need proper alignment to keep shingles in place and prevent curling and buckling.

Installing too many new roof layers, meaning new shingles over existing shingles, can also result in buckling, cracking, and other damage. Roofing shingles need a proper foundation to stay in place and in good condition; installing new shingles over damaged shingles, or adding too many layers, can then result in eventual cracks and crumbling.

Causes of Ripples In a Roof

Ripples are different from curling or buckling; when a roof ripples, it will look wrinkled, almost as if it needs ironing! In many cases, damaged felt can cause ripples. If a roofing contractor allowed the felt to get wet, such as leaving it exposed overnight during roof installation or repairs so it then collects morning dew, the felt might wrinkle and cause rippled roof coverings.

Roof decking sections should also be installed with a small bit of space between them, to allow for expansion as the wood absorbs moisture. Without that space, the decking might swell and contract upwards, leading to ripples along a roof’s surface.

What Does a Wavy Roof Indicate?

A wavy roof can indicate a number of issues, all of which need immediate attention! Layering shingles over old shingles can result in uneven bulges or waves, and damp felt can also expand and push up on shingles creating a wavy look.

Improperly sized shingles or shingles spaced incorrectly can create a wavy appearance along the roof. The roof might also be sagging in various spots, creating a wavy look. Whatever the cause, schedule a roof inspection as soon as you notice waves and other unevenness along a roof’s surface.

Roof Sagging Dangers & Other Problems

Excess weight such as from snow, ice, or added layers of asphalt shingles can result in a sagging roof. Damage to the roof rafters, trusses, joists, and other framing can also lead to sagging areas. Water damage along the roof’s surface also results in soft spots and eventual sagging.

As with buckling, curling, rippling, or a wavy look on your home’s roof, it’s vital that you schedule an inspection if you notice sagging or discoloration. While it’s rare that roofs outright collapse, it can occur and the longer you ignore weak or damaged decking and framing, the worse that damage gets. Timely repairs helps to avoid more extensive damage and ensure your structure is in good condition.

Signs of a Bad Roof

Unfortunately, some homeowners or commercial property owners neglect needed roof maintenance and repairs simply because they don’t recognize the signs of a bad roof! Regular roof inspections are the best choice for spotting damage, but note some indicators you might see from a ladder or even the ground that can mean it’s time to schedule roof repairs:

  • Shingles should lay flat and even against a roof’s surface. Curled shingles often indicate water damage or old and worn shingles needing replacement.
  • Dark stains on the roof can result from water damage needing repairs.
  • Check shingles along the roof edge and note if they seem to curve or buckle. This can be the result of algae growing between shingles, too many shingle layers, or other damage needing repairs.
  • Any sagging should be inspected for potential repairs, as said. You can often spot sagging areas from across the street, where you can see your home’s entire roof and more readily spot sagging or uneven areas.
  • Granules or nails in the home’s gutters or on the lawn near the house often indicate wear and damage. Granules keep shingles protected and discourage standing water on a roof; stripped shingles should then be replaced quickly!
  • A missing shingle or two, especially after a strong storm has moved through, doesn’t always indicate needed repairs. However, large bare patches or sections of missing shingles indicate it’s time for a roof inspection and potentially even a new roof installation.
  • If a roof looks old and worn, a thorough power washing can often restore its appearance; if the roof is clean but still looks worn out, it’s probably time to consider reroofing. A worn appearance can mean thin and brittle tiles or shingles needing replacing. A new roof can also improve curb appeal as well as increase your home’s interior insulation!
  • Consider the age of your property’s roof. Shingles typically last 20 years while clay tiles might last 30 to 50 years. If your property’s roof is nearing the end of its expected lifespan, have it inspected every year for needed repairs and potential reroofing.
  • If your neighbors are getting new roofs, it’s probably time for a roof inspection at your property! Buildings constructed around the same time usually have roofs that degrade at the same rate, so schedule an inspection if you notice lots of new roofs being installed in your neighborhood.

tools to repair a buckling roof

Preventing Roof Damage

Roofs always degrade and wear out, and then need repair or replacing eventually no matter the quality of roofing materials you choose. However, a few simple maintenance tips can ensure your property’s roof stays in good condition for as long as possible, and avoids otherwise unnecessary repairs and premature reroofing costs.

  • Always hire a licensed, reliable contractor for roof repairs and installation, as poor-quality work can result in premature damage.
  • Have a structure’s roof inspected every few years or even annually, to spot damage before it can spread. Investing in repairs at the first sign of cracks, buckling, dents, and other damage keeps those costs low over the years!
  • Storm debris, air pollution, soot, and other residues settling onto a structure’s roof can mean premature damage. Invest in regular roof cleaning, to improve curb appeal and avoid premature damage.
  • Avoid walking on a roof. Not only is it dangerous but walking on a roof can strip shingle granules and crack clay tiles.
  • Ensure a roof’s vents are not blocked, so humidity can escape the home rather than get absorbed by roof decking and other layers.

A roof repair contractor can also offer personalized advice for ensuring your structure’s roof is in good repair. He or she can also note the roof’s overall condition, allowing you to anticipate when it might be time to schedule a new roof installation!

The Elizabeth Roofers is proud to offer this information to our readers and hopefully it answered the question, why is my roof buckling? If you’re in the area and need roof repairs, turn to our trusted Elizabeth roof repair contractors! We offer FREE quotes and stand behind all our work with a full guarantee, so call us today!

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