Why are there leaves in my attic?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

One reason to find leaves in your attic is an open ridge vent on a metal roof. The openings created between the lines of raised metal where they fit under the ridge cap provide ventilation to exhaust hot attic air. But, if the slots are not sealed, a brisk wind slides leaves up the roof and into the slots, where they drop down to form a long line of debris in the attic insulation below.

The problem can be solved by sealing the slots with either a solid closure strip or a foam-like one that allows air to flow through it. Here’s a diagram of both solutions from the installation manual of Gulf Coast Supply and Manufacturing, a Florida manufacturer of metal roofing products.  

There is another technique that secures the ridge cap (or an older style cap called a “ridge roll”) down snug to the roof with a screw on either side of every crimp in the roof panels. We don’t see that one too often anymore.

   Static roof vents like the slant-back type shown below can also allow blown-in leaves if there is no screening at the opening or it is damaged. Openings in gable end or soffit vents do the same.

    A cluster of leaves mixed with  bits of insulation that looks like a bird’s nest turned on its side is a squirrel or rat nest, a sure sign that critters are living in your attic. And a sprinkling of leaves, mixed with bits of roofing shingles and grit, means that some sheathing was replaced and the roof was open for a while during the last roof replacement.

     If you plan on exploring your attic anytime soon to make sure everything is alright, please read our blog post What are the hazards to avoid when going into an attic? first. 

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  To learn more about roofs and attics, see these other blog posts:

Why is my roof sheathing sagging between the trusses? 

How do you flash skylight, chimney, and pipe vent roof penetrations on a metal roof?

Are H-clips required by the building code for roof sheathing?

Why is granule loss a problem for an asphalt shingle roof? 

What are the mistakes to avoid when doing attic improvements?

What causes roof shingles to curl up at corners?  

What causes shingles to buckle along a line on the roof?

What causes leaks at a fake roof dormer? 

What causes a sagging roof ridge line?

What causes bubble-like blisters in a built-up and gravel roof?  

Why does it cost so much more to replace a steep roof than a low slope roof? 

What is "ponding" on a flat roof?

Is an attic required to have a light by the building code? 

How can I inspect my roof for hurricane damage?

Why is premature curl of roof shingles a problem?

Can I put a new asphalt shingle roof over an existing shingle roof on a manufactured/mobile home?  

How can I tell if a roof has more than one layer of shingles? 

How do I safely remove a dead rodent (rat, mouse or squirrel) from the attic?

What are the common problems with attic insulation? 

How do I safely remove a dead rodent (rat, mouse or squirrel) from the attic?

What is the life expectancy of an asbestos cement shingle roof? 

What's the average lifespan of a roof?

What is a "square" of roofing? 

What are roofing purlins and battens?

Why is it a mistake to replace a roof and not replace its flashings? 

Why is there no attic access hatch in the house?

What is the difference between roll roofing and modified bitumen? 

What is the minimum slope for a clay or concrete tile roof?

What is the building code requirement for an attic access hatch, scuttle, or door?

 What is the purpose of the gravel on a flat tar roof? 

Why is vermiculite attic insulation a problem for both buyers and sellers of a home? 

Does a roof with multiple layers of shingles last longer?

What can I do to prevent roof leaks?

What are the code requirements for NM-cable (nonmetallic-sheathed cable or Romex®) in an attic? 

Are roof trusses better than roof rafters (stick framing)? 

Why is a popped nail in a shingle roof a problem? How do I fix it?

What is the difference between roofing felt and synthetic underlayment? 

What are the most common problems with wood roof trusses?

What causes a lump or dip in the roof? 

If my roof is not leaking, why does it need to be replaced?

Is a ridge board/beam required for a roof framed with rafters?  

What is an H-clip?

Does it cost more to roof a hip roof than a gable roof? 

What is the difference between galvanized and galvalume metal roofing?

What is the difference between plywood and OSB? 

How can I be sure my roofing contractor got a permit?

How many layers of roofing are allowed on a home? 

What are the dark lines running parallel to shingles on my roof?

Can metal roofing be used on a low slope/pitch roof? 

What are the roof sheathing requirements for a roof replacement in Florida?

How can I make my roof last longer?  

What is a "cool roof”?

What is a TPO roof? 

What are the warning signs of a dangerous attic pull-down ladder?

How can I find out the age of a roof? 

Does a gravel roof need maintenance?

What is the average lifespan of a concrete tile roof?  

Should I buy a house that needs a new roof?

Should I buy a house with an old roof? 

• Is it alright for a gutter downspout from an upper roof to empty onto a lower roof? 

What is the average lifespan of a modified bitumen roof? 

What is the average lifespan of a metal (galvalume) roof?

What is the average lifespan of an architectural (dimensional) shingle roof? 

What are those metal boxes on the roof?

What is the average lifespan of a regular (3-tab) shingle roof?

What is roof flashing? 

What does "lack of tab adhesion" in an asphalt shingle roof mean?

What is the minimum pitch/slope for a metal roof? 

Why do roof edges start leaking?

Why do my dormer windows leak? 

What is the minimum pitch/slope of an asphalt shingle roof?

What is the average life expectancy of a TPO (Thermoplastic PolyOlefin) roof? 

Do home inspectors go on the roof? Do they get in the attic?

Should I put gutters on the house? 

What's the difference between a roof inspection and a roofing estimate?

What is roof pitch? 

What is a collar tie?

How much of a roof truss can I cut out to make a storage platform in the attic? 

What is the stuff you paint an old mobile home metal roof with to extend its life? 

What is a roof cricket?

What's the difference between an "architectural" and a regular shingle roof? 

What is an EPDM roof?

 I'm buying a '50s modern house with a "gravel" roof. Is the roof going to be a problem?

The inspector says that a missing kickout flashing caused water damage inside the wall. What's "kickout flashing"? 

How does a home inspector find roof leaks? What about wet spots in the walls?

What does a home inspector look for when examining a roof? 

Do stains on the ceiling mean the roof is leaking?

How can I tell if the house needs a new roof?  

 Why does my homeowner's insurance want a roof inspection?

What are the hazards to avoid when going into an attic? 

• What is a roof certification letter/report?

    Visit our ROOF AND ATTIC page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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