Nothing puts the fear of God into a homeowner faster than discovering a leak during or after a rainstorm. Whether the leak is drip, drip, dripping, or gushing into your home, most people want to know what they should do other than put a bucket under the offending water. That’s a good question since by the time you discover a leak, it has probably been percolating into your home for weeks or months. What’s even more distressing is when a homeowner knows they have a leaky roof but can’t locate the source. That’s bad since a leak can do more than cosmetic damage to a home. It can cause everything from water damage and mold to electrical short circuits and fires. To help you get a bead on what you need to know about roof leaks, I thought I’d dedicated this week’s blog to help you keep your roof from raining on your parade.
Where is the water coming from?
If you climb up on your roof only to see missing or bent shingles, it isn’t all that difficult to determine where the leak originated. Unfortunately, sometimes determining the source of a roof leak isn’t all that easy. It isn’t necessarily coming from your shingles either. The water could be emanating from the flashing, from a leaky skylight, or a corroded vent. In short, unless you see an obvious source for the leak, sometimes it’s better to start beneath the roof to get a bead on the origin. That means crawling around in your attic. While it won’t necessarily tell you precisely where the leak is, it can definitely help you eliminate where it isn’t. Once you are able to determine the general vicinity of the leak, it will be much easier to track it back to its source from above.
What should you do if you still can’t find the source of the leak?
Since water always runs downhill, it’s quite possible that you still may be unable to pinpoint the cause of the leak. If that’s the case, the best thing you can do is to tarp the area where the leak was discovered and call in a professional. Not only will a licensed roofer be able to spot the problem, he or she will also be able to plug the leak before it does any more damage to your home.
What else can cause a roof to leak?
One of the most common causes of leaks are clogged gutters. Once gutters get clogged, not only can’t they shed water from your roof when it rains, but they can also cause costly leaks when the water backs up onto the roof. Since shingles are gravity-fed, this means that anytime the water can’t run off, it will most likely back up beneath the gutters. When this happens, water will find its way beneath the shingles looking for a way out. Any crack, crevice or even the tiniest of holes is all water needs to permeate your home. Since the gutters are located directly above the outer walls, it won’t be long before the water starts to puddle which could cause mold to grow long before the leak is noticed by you. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest leaks to prevent. If you have gutters, make sure you clean them out annually. If you have a lot of leaf litter lying on the roof, this can cause the same problem as clogged gutters. So, make sure you blow twigs and leaf litter off the roof to prevent leaf dams from forming.
The light of your life or the bane of your existence?
A skylight not only lets light into a home, it can also allow water to penetrate if they are improperly installed or the flashing around them is compromised. If you find your skylight leaks, the simplest way to fix it is to apply a bead of silicone sealer. If that doesn’t do the job, you’ll need to call your roofer to replace the flashing.
What else can a leaky roof damage?
When they detect a leak, most people are only concerned with stopping the immediate source of the problem. This could be a big mistake. Depending on how long the leak went undetected, water could have done serious damage to a home that if left undetected could come to haunt the homeowner later. Once a leak gets started, it can cause timber to rot or it can start mold to grow between the walls of your home. Left untreated, either of these problems could grow to gargantuan proportions in a few months or years. That’s why every homeowner should take the time to trace a leak from cradle to grave if they don’t want to wind up with a much larger problem down the line. It’s cheaper to fix water damage earlier than later.
What can you do to prevent roof leaks?
As Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That goes double when it comes to roof leaks. Instead of waiting for a leak to occur, by performing a little annual maintenance on your roof you can stop leaks from starting. Make sure you clear out your gutters and blow leaf litter off your roof. Climb a ladder every now and then to give your roof the once over. If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can call a local roofer to inspect your roof for free. They’re better trained than you to spot anything amiss with your roofing system. This will help you keep the rain off your head while helping your roof last longer. Last but not least, don’t put off replacing a roof that’s long past its prime. Postponing the inevitable will only lead to more damage and a bigger bill in the end.
If a roof leak is effecting your home, you can continue learning about roof leak causes and solutions in our articles: