In this article, you will learn:
1. How to find and identify roof leaks
2. How to prevent leaking roofs
3. The five most common leaking roof repairs
We know it can be challenging to find a roof leak, especially when the leak appears to be far from anywhere water might be coming from. Finding the source of leak is tricky, but once you know where it is, fixing it can be simple. Professionals have the expertise to get on your roof and find it to save you from a bigger headache later.
Consider recent weather, animal activity, and debris around the home. Extreme weather always calls for an inspection soon after. Animal activity like claw marks from raccoons or wall holes from other pests can also indicate the need for checking the roof. Debris around the home can also tell you that it’s worth inspecting the roof surface to find any possible places where leaks can occur.
You want to take care of a roof leak as quickly as possible because even a small leak can cause significant problems. Some of the bigger issues include a rotting frame, insulation damage, ceiling rot, and black mold. It’s critical that you identify and repair leaks as soon as you can to prevent otherwise expensive repairs.
How to Find and Identify Roof Leaks
Start by inspecting your roof. Look at the stain and see if you spot a trail coming from vent pipes, chimney, or anything else coming out of your roof. Any one of these may be several feet from the leak, but don’t discount them as the source based on the distance. Instead, look for water stains, mold, or black markings.
If you can get into your attic, you may also find water trails. You also want to look for nails or screws that missed the frame during building. Those are the ones that you can see poking through the wood. Sometimes, these nails or screws can build condensation and get frosty on a cold night. When the frost thaws, they drip. For a simple issue like that, you can just clip the nail or screw.
Some leaks are more difficult to find, too. You can use a garden hose to help you. Find a helper, and have them stay in your house by the place where you’ve seen evidence of a leak. Run the water over where you think the leak is on the outside of your home. Move the water accordingly until your helper sees the water coming through.
For those with vaulted ceilings, finding the source requires going up to your roof. It could take a while if you’re trying to find the leak on your own, so if you don’t feel comfortable finding and identifying a leak, always call a professional.
How to Prevent Leaking Roofs
Regular maintenance is the best prevention, so getting your roof checked once a year gives you an excellent chance at finding leaks before they turn into major problems. There are also several steps you can take to ensure a leak-free roof.
When your home was built, it should have had waterproof barriers installed at the eaves, around chimneys, and other areas where the outdoors could penetrate your roof. If these tear or decay, they may need repair or replacement. It’s also not unusual for water to run to openings in the barrier, including light fixtures and air conditioning vents.
Getting roof flashing installed is also an excellent way to redirect the flow of water away from your roof. Roof flashing is a metal piece that goes either under shingles or at 90-degree bends where walls meet the roof. A professional roofer can install these for you to prevent leaks from happening around skylights, chimneys, and other places water may be able to get through.
Attic ventilation is also a crucial part of keeping leaks to a minimum. Heat rises, and if it can’t escape from your attic, it’s entirely possible that humidity can become a problem. Without proper ventilation, heat and moisture will result in mildew and mold.
The Five Most Common Leaking Roof Repairs
A leaky roof is pretty common, especially among older homes. You want to find them as soon as you can, so we’ve put together a list of the most common issues to help you get started.
1. Plumbing Vent Boots
Roofs have plumbing vent pipes that vent out of your roof, and around those vents is what is called a plumbing vent boot. The base plate is made of either plastic or metal, and then there’s a rubber boot surrounding the pipe.
Rubber rots away after some time due to the extremes it is exposed to, like snow and ice or the burning hot sun. As the rubber rots, it will flake off and need to be replaced. This is an easy
inspection for a professional to do and an equally simple roof repair for someone with experience.
2. Walls and Dormers
It’s worth noting that water doesn’t only come in from the obvious roof penetrations. It can also come through old or missing caulk around corner boards and siding. Water will work through these areas and make its way into your home.
If caulk has not been expertly applied, it’s entirely possible that it will not adhere properly to the roof or side. A professional can dig around with a putty knife or utility knife to check for sealed areas and do the necessary replacements.
Cracked or rotting siding can also be the culprit behind what looks like a roof leak. Replacing these parts is critical if you see it so you can stop the leak in its tracks. The best thing to do in a situation like this is to definitely call a professional because you want to make sure the repairs get done correctly the first time.
3. Missing or Damaged Step Flashing
Step flashing is applied where the walls intersect your roof. Each section of flashing is placed to allow for the water to travel downhill. Over time, these pieces can become loose or rusted. Loose flashing will allow water to get behind it and into your house.
When aluminum flashing gets rusted, it needs replacement. Shingles will be removed to replace the flashing. It’s a relatively simple repair for a professional roofer, and it takes some time to pry the shingles loose without causing further roof damage.
4. Tiny Holes in Roofing Tiles
Finding tiny holes in your shingles is not uncommon, especially if you are not the original owner. Previous owners may have installed satellite dishes or other things on the roof, leaving tiny nail holes behind in the process. It’s best to get these shingles replaced before they cause any more problems than they already have.
You don’t necessarily need to hire a pro to fix these small holes; however, you should know how to patch up the area yourself. There are many different ways to go about doing this depending on which type of roofing material you’re using. For example, asphalt tiles require special adhesive while ceramic ones just need caulking.
Exposed holes, no matter how small, can lead to significant roof damage and water damage over the years. You might not even see the leak for years, which is another reason regular
maintenance is essential. Any exposed small holes should be fixed with flashing to ensure they won’t continue to leak.
5. Chimney Leaks
As much as people love a beautiful brick or stone chimney, they’re also possibly the most common culprit behind roof leaks. The flashing around your chimney will rust if it’s made of galvanized steel.
When this happens, the flashing needs to be replaced. Replacements can be done by cutting through the mortar to install a new piece or slipping new flashing under the damaged part. A roofing expert will tell you which one is the best way to go after inspecting the area.
The Bottom Line
When dealing with roofing repairs, you always want to tackle them as soon as possible. You wouldn’t expect your car to run forever if you never changed the oil. Unfortunately, most people forget that the roof is something else that needs to be taken care of regularly. It’s not a one-and-done kind of thing.
If you can prevent leaks from happening, that’s the most cost-effective way to deal with roof repairs. Ask a professional roofing contractor to inspect your roof annually to have a better opportunity to catch the issue before it becomes a problem.
Identifying the issues is not an easy thing to do since water often appears to be farther from the leak than you would think. Water travels, so your professional must examine where the water could be coming from.
We understand how important finding a reputable roofing professional is in addition to reaching one at any hour of the day or night. For a consultation, roof inspection, emergency roof repairs or a roof leak repair, please contact T. Simpson Roofing. Our qualified and licensed roofing specialists are ready to help you with whatever you need, whenever you need it!