How do you fix a leaky roof?
Roof leaks need to be fixed immediately before they produce more damage and bigger problems. Fortunately, tracking down a roof leak does not need a professional and can be done by homeowners themselves. If one sees water stains running down on walls or extending across ceilings, there is possibly a roof leak.
Complex roof problems should be done by professionals. Call roofing contractors to do the job. Homeowners who decide to repair their own leaky roof should be fine working at heights. They should make sure to practice safe precautions because working on roofs can be difficult and risky. Do not go onto a steeply pitched roof, step on the plastic sheeting especially if it is wet and never go up the roof during thunderstorms. It’s important to a fix a leaky roof before you invite pests in and need pest control too!
Here are tips on repairing a leaky roof for those who are interested and comfortable working on their own roofs:
Look for the leak
Roof leaks can be easy to fix but finding them is not. Start by looking at the roof from the stains uphill. Look for roof penetrations first because items that penetrate are usually the source of leaks. Penetrations include chimneys, roof vents, plumbing and dormers. Those who have attic access to the roof can go up there with a flashlight to track down the leak by looking at black spots, mold or water stains.
Use running water. A trick to find difficult leaks is to create an artificial rain with a garden hose. Soaking the area where the leak seems to appear may surface the evidence. Have someone in the house to wait for the drip to appear.
If the leak is in plumbing vent boots which can be either plastic or metal, then examine the boot around the pipe. If it is plastic, check plastic bases for cracks. If it is metal, look for broken seams. It can be torn or rotted to allow the water to flow into the house via the pipe. The vent boot may need to be replaced with a new one. If the boot is in good shape but the nails at the base are pulled out or missing, then keep the boot and replace the nails with rubber-washer crews for metal roofing systems. The screws are available at any home center.
When the leak is in roof vents, check for broken seams on metal ones or cracked housings on plastic roof vents. A good fix is to replace damaged vents rather than using caulk which may fix the problem but would just be temporary and for a short time. Also replace missing nails at the bottom edge with rubber-washer crews. Fixing a leak may even inspire you to take care of other areas like your damaged lawn.
Dormer walls have many spots where water can stay and enter the roof. The caulk in them can be old or there could be cracks on some of its parts. Caulks that still look good possibly are not sealing the adjoining parts anymore. To check if the area is sealed, one can use a knife to dig around the area of the suspect caulk and have it replaced with a siliconized latex caulk. The siding above the step flashing should also be examined. Any missing, rotted or cracked siding should be replaced and ensured that the new piece is overlapping the step flashing by at least 2 inches.
If the leaks are in step flashings which are used along walls intersecting the roof, there may be loose pieces in there or rusts. Rusted flashings should be replaced by removing shingle, loose the siding and remove and replace the step flashing.
If small holes are the culprit of leaks, they need to be patched. Holes can be from antennas, satellite dish or anywhere. Fixing them with flashing is better than just injecting caulk inside the hole. If the source of the leak is the rusted chimney, slip a new flashing under the rusted stuff.