My Roof is Leaking… What Should I Do?
When the weather outside is being unfriendly, we have no choice but to stay indoors. We relegate ourselves to the relative comfort of our homes. Maybe do a Netflix marathon or curl up in bed reading a gripping novel or what have you.
And just when you’re about to get comfortable, you hear the sound of dripping water over in the kitchen. You check it out… and discover that your roof is leaking.
When that happens, you know it’s going to be a long day (or night).
With that said, a leaking roof shouldn’t be a cause for panic. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can afford to sit idly by while water continues to infiltrate your home through the leaking roof. You need to get that fixed, pronto!
That’s not an easy thing to do, however. So, we’ve cooked up this comprehensive guide to provide you with all the information needed to get through the challenges that come with a leaking roof.
Dangers of Roof Leaks
Unfortunately, too many homeowners choose to delay contacting a roofing professional in a leaking roof situation. This is a disaster waiting to happen. By postponing the repair of a leaking roof, you’re bound to face more serious issues over time.
Here are the most common issues that may take root the longer you delay the decision to have the roof leak fixed.
A leaking roof doesn’t affect only one area of the home. Water, under the right conditions, has a tendency to travel along your attic. Before you know it, the wood frame, joists, beams, and studs start to show signs of rot. Allow water to have its way over these supports and the structural integrity of your home will be severely compromised.
Mold and Mildew Buildup
Mold and mildew thrive in wet, humid conditions. If you don’t address a water leak, you’re making your home a welcome abode for these little critters. Mold also develop into black mold, which could spread inside your roof and your home’s interior. Since they travel through air, exposure can cause respiratory issues and other health problems. Mold and mildew can also damage the structural integrity of your home if allowed to thrive.
Fire and Electrical Hazards
If you allow roof leaks to persist, there’s always the risk of the water coming in contact with the electrical wires in your home. This is especially dangerous when your wires have damaged insulation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is a fire or electrical hazard waiting to happen.
Moreover, water may also come in contact with bare wires near metal junction boxes, which could electrocute anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby. Some electrical shocks can cause serious injury or be life-threatening. If you see any signs of a leak, it’s imperative that you turn off electrical switches connected to the affected area before calling an electrician as well as a roofing contractor.
A leaking roof can cause water to puddle up on any flat surface. Oftentimes that flat surface is the floor inside your home. This puts you and the people in your home at risk of slipping on wet floors. The risk is even more pronounced if you have children or elderly people in your home.
Minimizing Water Damage to Your Belongings
A leaking roof can be a scary thing, if only for the fact that it puts your belongings at risk for water damage. Unfortunately, a roofing contractor will not always be readily available to rectify the situation. Here are steps you can take to minimize the effects of water damage while waiting for a contractor to arrive onsite.
Release Built-up Water
If you notice a bulge in the ceiling, chances are it’s holding standing water. This is dangerous since the built-up pressure could cause the ceiling to collapse. You can release that built-up pressure by poking a hole in the center of the bulge with a screwdriver or a pen and allowing the water to flow in one stream. Make sure you have a big enough container to catch all that water!
Catch the Water
If the water is trickling down over a large area, you can keep the water from puddling by placing towels or newspapers over the floor. If we’re talking heavy leaks, then a big bucket or a garbage pail (sans garbage, of course) should more than suffice.
Make sure you have a second bucket or pail ready so you’ll have something to use when the first one has reached its limit. In cases where the water is splashing everywhere, you can attach one end of a string to the affected area and allow the water to slide down its length towards the catch basin.
Protect your Belongings
You don’t want to end up with damaged electrical appliances or soaked up furniture during a heavy downpour. At the earliest sign of a leak, move these things away to an area where water can’t reach them. For things that are on the heavy side, you can cover them with plastic sheeting to ensure that they stay dry.
Temporary Fix for Leaking Roof
Of course, you can’t contain all that water forever. Eventually, you have to fix the cause of the problem, even if it only leaks when it rains hard. Follow the steps below to temporarily fix your leaking roof while you’re waiting for a roofing contractor to arrive.
Use roofing cement
Roofing cement is an excellent go-to-solution to any minor roof leak. Using a hand trowel or spatula, spread the roofing cement over the affected area. Once the area has been patched up, you can reinforce it by inserting a piece of galvanized sheet metal between the roof shingles.
Cover the leak with a tarp
One easy and effective way to stymie the flow of dripping water into your home is to cover the affected area with a plastic tarp. Make sure to use a tarp that is strong enough to withstand external elements. To keep it secure in its place, pull it tightly along the roof’s surface and nail down the edges and corners before sealing the nailheads with roofing cement.
Reconstitute damaged shingles
If the source of the leak is a loose, cracked, curled up, or missing shingle, you can re-attach them to your roof through the following steps:
- If your roof shingle has curled up, use a heat gun until the material is soft enough to be smoothed down. Then secure it in its place with roofing cement or any strong adhesive.
- If any shingles are loose, put them back in their proper place with 6D galvanized nails and seal them up with roofing cement or any strong adhesive.
- Create temporary shingles. Cut a strip of copper or sheet metal into a shape that’s similar to the broken shingle and attach them to the source of the leak. As with previous methods, using roofing cement or any strong adhesive should help secure the makeshift shingles in place.
Patch ‘em up with roofing tape
Roofing tape is strong enough to stop or limit water from leaking, albeit temporarily. Once you know the source of the leak and you have a step ladder tall enough to reach it, a roofing tape should help tide you over until the roofing contractor arrives.
How to Stop a Roof Leak in the Rain
A roof leak in the rain is almost always an emergency situation and should be treated as such. A heavy downpour, after all, can cause water to invade your home’s attic, ceiling, inside walls, and interior. If you don’t stop or limit the water from coming in, the structural integrity of your home is bound to be compromised.
If no roofing contractor is immediately available to carry out emergency roof repairs, the best course of action is to take matters into your own hands, at least until such time when a true professional is made available to perform permanent repairs.
The first step, of course, is to address the leak inside your home to limit interior damage. Collect the water using large buckets or garbage pails and move furniture into areas where water couldn’t reach them. Drop down tarps, towels, or plastic sheets on carpeting and floors to keep them dry.
How to locate a roof leak
So scope out your home and find out where the leak is coming from. Peel off any worn or damaged drywall or tiles to see if the leak is coming from there.
Go up the attic and look for signs of moisture. Bring a flashlight with you because it can get pretty dark up there. The attic is also home to dust, debris, and small insects so you’d do well to wear an eye-protector and a pair of gloves.
Bring up with you an extra bucket or any large container so you’ll have something to stop the attic from getting soaked over from water drips coming from the main source of the leak. A big sponge or a dry towel should also come in handy for covering spots that have gathered puddling water.
Also, remember that the spot where you see the water is coming in through the attic will not always directly below the direct source of the leak through the roof. Water, after all, has a way of traveling the path of least resistance. More often than not, you’ll have to make a thorough exploration of the attic to find the real source of the leak. Are the rafters and sheathing soaking wet? Then trace the path of the water until you find where it’s coming from. If the path isn’t so obvious, check for any discolorations on the wood or spots showing signs of water damage.
Once you’ve discovered the source of the leak, you can fix the roof by going to the top of the roof. But a word of warning: take extra precautions before taking this next step!
Here are ways to keep you safe up there:
- Tie the ladder to the siding to ensure that it won’t be blown off by the wind.
- Wear non-slip shoes or boots (preferably one that’s rubber-soled).
- Use a safety harness. A safety harness is a must if you have a high roof. Actually, using a safety harness is a must, period.
Tarp the Roof
A tarp is a reliable and easy way to stop a roof from leaking. Here are the steps to tarping your leaking roof.
- Measure the damaged area. The size of the tarp you’ll be using will depend on how large that area is. Cut a portion that’s more than adequate to cover the damaged section, but make sure that it extends at least 4 feet beyond the peak.
- Set up an anchor board. Now attach each end of the tarp running vertically down the roof’s slope to a 2×4 piece of lumber using cap nails. Wrap the tarp around the board and attach it to the roof with screws.
- Pull the tarp tight against the roof, and adhere it under the eave using a screw gun.
The Importance of Periodic Roof Inspections
Thanks to modern roofing technology, most roofs now have a longer lifespan. The average lifespan of asphalt shingles, for example, lasts between 15 to 25 years. With that said, if you want to extend the shelf-life of your roof by up to 15 years, doing periodic roof inspections is key.
Regular maintenance is always key to protecting any large investment, even more so when it that investment is your roof. A roof, after all, is your first line of defense against external elements. It takes regular beating from heavy rains, strong winds, debris, and many others over and over for a long period of time. In other words, you owe your roof big time, and the least you can do is to have it checked regularly.
If you have no plans of scheduling a roof inspection with your professional roofing contractor, the following benefits should more than convince you to give them a ring soon.
Prevents wear and tear
The roof and its many components accumulate damages over a long period of time. Most of these damages are negligible at best, but allow things to naturally run their course over a long period and these issues are bound to develop into major ones. By conducting regular inspections, you can ensure that your roof is always in a state of sustainability, thus extending its lifespan by 10 or so years.
Saves you money in the end
As the old adage goes, “prevention is always better than cure.” The same holds true for roof inspections. It’s always better to fix issues while they are still minor. The average cost for minor repairs ranges between $100 and $300. While it can be tempting to just leave it alone for a while just so you can keep the hundred bucks, leaving a damaged shingle alone can cause water to penetrate the attic without your knowledge, causing structural damage to your home and costing you thousands of dollars.
No hassle, no fuss
Not much in life is as bothersome as a roof leak. Beyond having to scramble for buckets to catch dripping water from the ceiling and moving your valued possessions out of the way, the act of minimizing the damages caused by a roof leak can be a big hassle to any poor property owner suffering from a roof leak. The mold or mildew buildup that comes with water damage not only involve painstaking work, but it can also negatively impact your health and that of your loved ones.
By having your roof checked every few years or so, you don’t have to suffer from these inconveniences.
Maintain curb appeal
The roof is part and parcel of what makes a home visually appealing. If the roof is not properly maintained, chances are it’s going to negatively impact your home’s curb appeal. A roof with black streaks running along one side, for instance, is unsightly to visitors and potential buyers. By conducting regular roof inspections, a roofing contractor can alleviate or remove any aesthetic blemishes your roof may develop over time.
Getting the help of professional roofing contractors
We all wish we can monitor and take care of our roof all the time. But too often life gets in the way. If your roof is in need of regular inspections or a major repair job, the best course of action is always to call a professional roofing contractor.
Of course, we just can’t hire any professional roofing contractor and hope for the best. For one, you’d want to hire someone who can charge you a fair rate. More importantly, you want a professional roofer who will satisfy your needs and provide you high-quality workmanship. A roofing system, after all, is a major investment, and you can only maximize that investment if you ask help from someone who knows what he is doing.
So without further ado, here are important considerations you need to make in choosing a professional roofing contractor or company who will take good care of your roof.
Choose one with a physical office
A professional roofing contractor is a business owner, and no contractor can’t rightfully call himself one if his business doesn’t have a physical address. So, ask every candidate for their complete physical business address. Remember, you only want to do business with someone whom you can conveniently call or visit. If a professional roofer says that his business doesn’t have a physical address, you’d do well to look elsewhere for help.
Get multiple quotes
It can be tempting to hire the first professional roofer you come across especially if the contractor has impressive credentials. This is a big mistake waiting to happen. If you want to get the best deal possible, get multiple quotations from different contractors before making a decision. The importance of having points of comparison can’t be emphasized enough. When you are able to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option, you’re putting yourself in a better position to make the most informed decision possible. A good rule of thumb is to get at least three bids, but you can certainly do better by getting more.
Check for reputation and credentials
Checking for a professional roofer’s reputation in the industry is one surefire way of knowing if a contractor is the best person for the job. By checking a contractor’s samples of previous work as well as his references, you’re able to see undeniable proof that he is capable of doing great work. This, of course, provides you the assurance that he’ll provide you a similar quality of work, or at least one that’s comparable.
Licensed and insured
If you’re going to hire a roofing contractor, you might as well hire a licensed one if it’s required in your state. A licensed contractor, after all, didn’t get their license for nothing. They have the formal training and the experience to ensure that the work they do is at least on par with industry standards. In short, they’ve been trained the proper way, guaranteeing that they will perform proper roofing work every step of the way.
In addition, you can bet your bottom dollar that every licensed contractor you encounter carry insurance. This not only protects them, but it also protects you, the homeowner. This means that your assets are always protected and that the appropriate compensation is provided for should there be any injuries during the course of the project.
As a homeowner, you’d want an experienced professional roofer to take control of your roof, not someone who’s still learning the ropes. When a roofer doesn’t have many years of experience under his belt, rookie mistakes are bound to happen, and the worst part is that you’ll be none the wiser because you don’t have the proper training yourself.
So, make sure to check each candidate’s work history and see how many years they’ve been in service. An experienced roofing contractor is likely aware of the best practices in the roofing industry. They know the best tools and which types of material are best suited for each circumstance.
This is a no-brainer, but one that bears emphasizing. In any transaction, you have to make sure that your interests and assets are protected at all times. Don’t sign a contract with any roofing contractor if the said contractor doesn’t offer a workmanship warranty AND a manufacturer warranty.
A workmanship warranty is a provision in the contract that guarantees compensation for any installation error made on the part of the contractor. A manufacturer warranty, on the other hand, is a provision that guarantees compensation if there are defects in the materials used in the course of the roofing project.
Get Quotes from Competing Contractors
So, now you’ve finally decided to hire a professional roofing contractor? That’s awesome! But let me guess: You’re kind of stumped as to where to go from here.
I can’t say I’m surprised. While there are plenty of skilled professional roofing contractors out there, there’s always the risk of you picking the bad apple out of the bunch. Because let’s face it: there’s no shortage of unqualified contractors out there you’re better off avoiding.
So, to make things easier for you, we’re now providing you quotes from competing contractors near you completely free of charge. Remember, these are highly-qualified contractors that have been screened! All you need to do is sign the form below and you’ll get the quotes in no time!