Leaking Roof: 5 Steps To Fix It For Good
A leaking roof can be a headache for any homeowner. A roof leak may occur because of a multitude of reasons. One of the primary reasons for a roof leak is the climatic conditions in which your property is located. It could be rain, sandstorm, ice dams that are collected on the roof and lead to roof leaks.
Have you noticed water stains that run across ceilings and down the walls of your home? It is probably a roof leak that’s causing the problem. A leaking roof could pose serious health issues to the people in your home and or your building as well.
Let’s look more into what issues could crop up because of a leaking roof.
How To Fix A Leaking Roof?
There are various steps you can follow to fix a roofing leak. Follow them to a T, and you will have no trouble fixing the leak on your leaking roof.
Step 1: Track Down the Source of the Leak
Find the spot where the roof leak has occurred. The affected area will generally be big and (challengingly) it will be away from the origin of the leak. If the roof leak is quite small, then watch out for symptoms of mold, black spots or water stains. Once you have located such spots, you should start to look upward from that spot.
Now, if you have access to the attic, you can simply get up there with a flashlight and start looking around for evidence of leaks. You will definitely come across molds, black marks, and water stains. Vaulted ceilings, however, are not all that easily accessible. So, if your roof style is vaulted, you have to get over the roof to examine the origin and source of the leak.
These are the spots you should check:
- Inspect the roof penetrations and projections – Components of the roof that involve roof projections. Some of the penetrations where roof leaks are most common include pumping and roof vents, chimneys, dormers etc.
These are the sources of roof leaks, and they could be located several feet on either side of it. The source of the roof leak could also be several feet below the spot where the roof leak is visible. Roof vents are notorious when it comes to roof leaks. These include attic fans, turbines, plumbing soil stack pipes and metal flashing that go up the roofline.
- Inspect the roof – Let’s say your roof’s surface is such that there is no proper slope for the water to drain. Then there is every possibility that water clogging is the predominant reason for the roof leak.
Now in the perusal of the suspects of roof leaks, don’t disregard your safety! When you are checking out the attic, tread carefully by stepping on secure framing members.
Avoid treading on the insulation or over the topside where there is a ceiling right underneath. Otherwise, you may land yourself in trouble because these areas will just not be able to accommodate your weight.
Once you have located the origin of the leak, work your way up the roof in a vertical line and see if there is any dampness.
On the other hand, if dry weather is a deterrent to locating where the roof leak has occurred, then see if there are any watermarks, stains, or apparent discoloration of the wood. Moisture stains should be easy enough to locate. You may see felt paper, rotten wood, and even water-stained wood around a leaky roof.
These are other spots where roof leaks can occur:
- Damaged or missing shingles
Even if your home is very old, it’s extremely rare for you to find leaks where the shingles stretch in an uninterrupted line. But there is a high probability that you may come across roof leaks if there are any cracked shingles. Or, some shingles could simply be missing. Check the end caps or the points where the shingles butt.
Did you know that if nails are driven sideways, it could lead to little bumps in the roof? During a roof inspection, you will have to look out for nails driven sideways that will lead to bumps in your roof or nails that will emerge when they bump against a crack.
Missing, loose, cracked, or blistered shingles are fairly easy to spot, and you can see them easily enough.
When the water enters through the missing or broken shingles, or shingles that are worn with age or weather, it will make its way along with the sheathing, towards the topside of the ceilings to find a spot where the water trips down right inside your home and onto your furniture and other stuff inside. Not good!
- Poorly installed roof flashing
The roof flashing is a thin piece of metal that will direct water away from the common areas where water tends to gather and into the drain. If the roof flashing is not properly installed and secured, then these areas are likely to be corroded. So, inspect the poorly sealed roof flashing around the vents, skylights, chimneys, and where the roof planes meet.
As you can tell, identifying roof leaks in itself is not an easy task, but it can be done. So, if you have identified the spot where a roof leak has occurred, you can give yourself a pat on the back.
- The roof’s decking:
The decking of your roof could be yet another spot of roof leakage. When you (or maybe the roofing contractor you hire) get over the roof, they will oversee the nails in the decking and how the deck feels under the feet. The former is to ensure that the nails are in the proper place, and the latter is to see to it that the roof’s decking yields under the foot or if it’s solid.
Step 2: Perform the Water Test
If despite your best efforts, you are still unable to locate the source of the leak, then you can get a helper and perform the water test. For this, all you need is a water hose, a bucket, a flashlight, and a good friend!
So, get yourself up on the roof surface with a hose and flood the roof with the hose. Your friend should be down in the attic with a bucket and flashlight. You should ask them to stay alert and keep their eyes peeled!
When you pour water over the roof with a water hose, you should start at the eaves of the roof and then slowly direct the water upward. Mimic a heavy downpour, and keep at it for several minutes. The water from the leak will appear in the attic soon enough. When the first sign of water droplets appears, ask your friend to yell from below. You could mark the spot for making a further repair.
Keep in mind to do this only when the weather is dry and not when there is a downpour of rain or thunderstorm overhead.
If identifying the source of the leak is difficult, repairing is even more so! It involves a lot of inspecting, climbing, hauling, and fixing. It could be risky, and there are chances of you slipping and falling over. Moreover, you should have the required knowledge for it. Above everything, we strongly recommend you hire the help of a professional roofing company to get it done.
Step 3: Here are some things you can do to fix a leaking roof
- If the shingles are curled back, then brushing on an asphalt roofing cement will help to reseal the leaking roof.
- You could even use caulk for fixing very small leaks. But remember, this is not a long-term solution.
- Replace the damaged or missing shingles. If you have the replacement shingles, of course! For doing so, carefully lift the edges of the surrounding shingles and the nails with the aid of a pry bar. Once done, the shingle will automatically come out smoothly. Chuck out the protruding nails if necessary.
Now, on to replacing the shingle! You can fasten the new shingles in place with the help of roofing nails in all corners. As a final step, you should cover the nail with cement and then smooth down the shingle edges that are overlapping.
- For fixing the flashing around dormers, skyscrapers, and chimneys, all that’s needed is a caulk gun with roofing cement.
- For damaged roof vents, you have no other option but to go with replacement to prevent water from finding its way into the base.
Step 4: Hire the help of a Local Roofing Company
We highly recommend you hire the help of a local roofing company to oversee your roof and fix what you cannot DIY.
It is because they know the local building codes well and will ensure that they thoroughly oversee the causes of a leaking roof, areas where a leak has occurred, be it the attic ventilation, roof projections or penetrations, and other crucial areas like roof decking, roof flashing, roof vents, roof shingles, chimneys, and skylights.
The other instances where you may need to hire the help of a professional is when entire lines of shingles need to be replaced or shingles that you cemented priorly are starting to come apart.
Once your roof contractor makes an in-depth analysis of your roof, they will let you know if your leaking roof is in one isolated spot which just needs repairing, or your roofing needs to be thoroughly replaced.
If your roof leakage is not caused because of normal wear and tear or aging or damaged because of a heavy thunderstorm or tree fall in which case your roof needs to be replaced entirely (and consequently get a roofing contractor to do it for you), then it is enough if roof repairs are carried out.
What kind of respiration your roof needs depend entirely on:
- The style of your roof.
- The materials of your roof.
- The method they use to install the roof.
- How many layers of the roof will have to be torn off.
Step 5: Get an estimate and make comparisons with other local roofing companies as well
You need to get an overall estimate from your roofing company as to the scope of the work that needs to be carried out.
You need to make a thorough inspection of that estimate to see how much your contractor will pay, what kind of work will be carried out( roof repair or replacement), what’s not included as part of the repair or replacement, the time frame of the project, and so much more! If you have any clarifications or concerns, now’s the time to air them all with your contractor.
Once this is done, get an estimate from a couple of other companies so that you can make comparisons and then zero in on a contractor who best fits your specific requirements. Hiring a trustable and reputed local contractor will go a long way in solving your roofing problems.
Why You Need To Repair A Leaking Roof
It could be a pretty small leak. But such small leaks could end up posing enormous problems for you and your home. Let’s say you are getting a new roof soon. Or maybe, you have no issues with the current roof as such. So, what problems could crop up if a roof leaks?
Damage to your ceiling
Damaged ceilings are one of the things you have to deal with because of a leaky roof. When the water drips from the roof onto the ceiling, it will affect the paint and plaster. That lovely coat of paint you spent a lot of time selecting will start to peel.
Damage to your walls
Roof leaks don’t just cause damage to your ceilings, but they can also affect your walls. When the water leaks through the roof, it will seep through the walls of your building. When this happens, you will notice damp spots and signs of seepage in your house.
When water encroachment happens continuously, again, it could peel the paint, cause the walls of your home to moisten, and lead to cracks forming. And worse, of all? It could lead to the formation of mold and mildew formation.
Mold and mildew formation
Mold and mildew formation, rotting frame, and sheathing are common issues because of a leaking roof.
May cause destruction to the foundation of your home
As you can tell, there are plenty of problems that crop up because of a leaking roof, so you should get them fixed immediately. Continuous water intrusion could even affect your building’s foundation. And you don’t need us to tell you how costly it would be to refix your house’s foundation if it gets damaged!
There is every chance a leaking roof could cause damage to the structural integrity of your home. These damages could be grave and long-term; not just that, you may have to shell a lot of money getting them fixed.
Could potentially harm the electric fixtures
If you have installed electric fixtures on the ceiling, a roof leak could be quite a risky affair. What could be even more dangerous are concealed wires that may even cause short circuits if you are not too careful and don’t monitor your roofs frequently.
We hope this guide will help you track the roof leaks(if and when they occur) and take appropriate measures to stop the leaks in their tracks. We went over the usual suspects of roof leaks and the not-so-obvious ones. Apart from that, we also showed you how to select a good contractor who will do the best possible job for fixing a leaking roof through roof repair or replacement. Good luck!