You'll know right away if a hurricane rips off your roof, or if a tree smashes part of it in. If you have to put buckets on the floor to catch the drops when it rains, you'll know without a doubt that you have a problem with your roof. However, it's often the case that roof damage is not that dramatic, and the signs of roof damage can easily be overlooked or mistaken for something else. The problem is that if you miss the early, less visible signs of damage, you'll eventually be facing bigger, more serious, and more expensive problems that could have been avoided if you'd known what to look for. Take a look at some of the less obvious signs of roof damage.

Allergy Symptoms or Illness

If you or your family members find yourselves coughing, sneezing, or wheezing, and you can't figure out why, it could be a sign of roof problems. How can that be? It's simple. If there are weak spots in your roof that allow water to leak in underneath the shingles, you could wind up with water trapped underneath your roof. Small leaks don't necessarily cause water to drip through the ceiling and onto your head – at least not at first. But moisture in your attic, your walls, and your insulation could all encourage mold growth.

Exposure to mold can cause symptoms similar to seasonal allergy symptoms. You may cough and wheeze, have a runny nose or itchy eyes, or even struggle to breathe. People with asthma may find that mold exposure triggers asthma attacks. There is also a condition known as Toxic Mold Syndrome that is believed to cause not just allergy symptoms and respiratory problems, but also headaches, dizziness, anxiety, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, and nosebleeds, to name just some of the possible symptoms. If you have unexplained symptoms, having your home evaluated for mold is a good start, and depending on where the mold is growing, it may well indicate a need for roof repair.

Unusually High Energy Bills

If your electric bill or gas bill suddenly spikes, the first thing you're probably going to consider is a problem with your HVAC system. However, increased power usage could also be a sign of problems with your roof.

Your roof is a crucial component of your home's envelope – the physical shell that separates the inside of the home from the outside elements. If your roof is compromised, the whole envelope is compromised, and your HVAC system will have to work that much harder to keep your home warm or cool enough, using more energy in the process. You might think that it would take a large hole to cause that kind of change, but it doesn't have to be anything so obvious. If you've ruled out the HVAC system as a possible cause of the spike in energy usage, it's not a bad idea to have your roof evaluated for weak spots.

Spots and Stains

How often do you examine your ceilings for stains or spots? If you have a slow leak in your roof, you may not see the water. Water doesn't always drop straight down; it could run across a plumbing pipe like condensation. But if you have enough water leaking under your roof, it could result in a stain on the ceiling. These stains are usually a faded yellow color when dry, and they may spread or darken when it rains.

Another place that you may notice spots or stains is on the exterior walls of your home. Your roof has a gutter system and flashing, both of which are supposed to guide the water away from your home's walls. However, if the flashing or gutters are damaged, water may run down the sides of your home instead, leaving water spots on the paint. Like ceiling spots, these will grow darker and larger when it's raining.

If you suspect that you have a roof problem, even if you're not completely sure, it's worth contacting a roofing contractor like Bob Behrends Roofing & Gutters LLC for an inspection. The earlier you catch and fix the damage, the less you'll spend on repairs.