Household & Real Estate

Fix Your Roof With These 4 Solutions

A leaking roof is a serious problem that should not be ignored. The water can damage your belongings in the house and cause mold growth. Leaks usually occur near things that penetrate the roof, such as plumbing and roof vents, chimneys and dormers. Even on older roofs, leaks seldom appear in areas of unbroken exposed shingles. So the first step is to track down where the leak is coming from.

Use a Garden Hose

A leaking roof can cause rotting beams and moldy insulation in your attic and damage your possessions and the interior design of your home. However, if you know how to find and fix the leak, it can be a relatively inexpensive issue. A garden hose is one of the best ways to find a leak. If the weather is dry, have one person spray water on top of the roof in isolated areas (such as around a chimney or vent pipe) for several minutes while another person inside the house watches. The water should mimic heavy rains and reveal the location of any leaks. Several things can contribute to open field leaks, including improper staggering of shingles and missed nails in the roof valleys. You should check gutter fasteners, dormer windows and any other areas where water might collect.

Tear Up Shingles

Small gaps or leaks are only sometimes visible from the ground. When water leaks into the attic, it can soak insulation and rot roof boards or rafters. It can be expensive and requires extensive repair or replacement. If you see rotting beams or moldy insulation in the attic, it’s time to call a professional for roof repairs. Look at the shingles from a ladder and on the roof (if it’s safe). Missing or raised shingle edges indicate damage that could cause leaks. Check for missing or cracked shingle corners, loose or curling shingles, and gaps between shingles. Also, look for poorly installed flashing. Proper flashing installation is key around chimneys and the metal step flashing that runs along a roof valley. A leaky flashing joint may be the source of a leak. Cover the flashing with caulk or roof cement if it has nail holes. Repairing or replacing the flashing will stop leaking and protect the area for years.

Go Up on the Roof

Your roof has several features that create potential entry points for water. For example, peaks and valleys, roof vents and chimneys, and dormers allow water in if it isn’t properly sealed. You must go up on the roof to locate these entry points. If you have attic access, this isn’t a problem, but take anything you don’t want to lose in the attic with you. Also, be prepared to spend several hours up there. Look for evidence of the leak in the attic and trace it up to the roof and rafters. Then, start by soaking the top with a garden hose. Begin low and work your way up, letting the hose run for several minutes in each area. It will help you isolate areas where the leaking water enters the house. Many roofing contractors will repair leaks around roof vents by replacing the flashing. They’ll use a caulk-like roofing cement to seal it.

Look for Water Stains

If you notice spots on your ceiling, there’s a good chance there’s a leak in the roof. Water spots from moisture incursion indicate that you must call a professional roofer to assess and fix the problem.

Water often enters the home at the top of things that go through or project from the roof. Finding the source of a leak might take some detective work.

If you can get someone to stay inside with a container, use the garden hose to soak areas of the roof uphill from where the water stains are located. The wet area might indicate the source of the leak, which could be several feet to the left, right or below where you’re seeing a drip in your house. The source might be a cracked or broken pipe, or the flashing around a chimney or vent might have rusted.