A leaky roof is a major problem for a homeowner. Without a properly functioning roof, the home will experience a variety of problems including water damage to the interior. If you have noticed that there is a leak in your roof, it’s important to perform some basic repairs to stop the water from seeping into your house.
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1. Find the roof leak
If you can see water coming in, look for the source. The problem’s location will depend on what type of roof is leaking where. If it’s a flat or low-slope roof, then it may be that debris has collected in the gutter and is preventing proper drainage. There could be a crack in the flashing around that area if it’s a valley between two roofs.
You can’t see any visible source
If you can’t see any visible source, look for other indicators that there’s a leak. Visually check inside basements or interior rooms that seem to get wet when it rains. Visually inspect shingles and flashings for damage.
Do an inspection of the exterior
Look for shingles that appear curled, broken or missing. If you see any exposed sheathing, it may be time to replace the roof.
Do a water test
If you’re not sure whether there’s a leak and need to narrow down where it is, spray an inconspicuous area lightly with water and watch how it spreads. If it’s shining or dark in color, that means there’s water seeping in, so you can mark the area with masking tape.
Check the roof valleys
Roof valleys are a common place for leaks to form. The edges of the shingles in the valley usually overlap and any water that accumulates will run under the shingles and cause damage. It is important to inspect the valley for missing or damaged shingles that can lead to leaks. The valley should be clear of any vegetation that blocks proper drainage.
Have a professional inspect your roof if you have any doubts about whether there is a leak.
Check the roof ridge
The roof ridge, also known as the peak, is another common place for leaks to form because there are so many angles and intersecting parts. The shingles on the ends of your roof meet at the ridge and if one is damaged, water will find its way through. Any vegetation that blocks proper drainage should also be trimmed away from the top of the roof.
Check for flashing problems
Flashing covers seams between different building materials such as your roof and chimney. The joints of the flashing should be free from rust or corrosion since these metals are susceptible to cracking from exposure to weather, expanding and contracting as temperatures change. Cracked or damaged flashing needs to be replaced before a new leak occurs.
2. Secure curled shingles
If you have a few shingles that have curled up at the edges, you can secure them back down with roofing cement. Apply a thin layer of the cement to the underside of the shingle, and then press it firmly back into place.
3. Replace damaged or missing shingles
The first step to repairing a leaky roof is to get rid of any shingles that are broken or missing. Damaged shingles can lead to leaks, further damage and costly repairs. A new ridge vent on the peak of the roof also helps prevent moisture from entering the house which leads to mold growth.
4. Fix flashing
Flashing is a thin sheet of metal or other impervious material used in roofing and wall construction to prevent water from entering the building through joints. When flashing fails, water can enter the building, leading to damage such as rotting wood, rusting metal, and mold growth.
There are several steps you can take to repair flashing.
- Remove any debris from the flashing. Use a wire brush to scrape away caked-on dirt and rust.
- Cut back around the failure with a pair of tin snips until you can firmly grip it with pliers. Lift up on the metal, peeling away the old caulk or tar if it is stuck to the surrounding materials.
- Apply a bead of roofing cement along the joint, but do not cover the area where you will be attaching the new flashing.
- Position the new metal flashing over at least 1 inch of each side of the joint. Secure it in place with clinch nails or sheet-metal screws.
- Apply a new bead of roofing cement over the top of the flashing and smooth it out with a putty knife.
If you are uncomfortable performing these repairs yourself, or if the problem is extensive, you may want to hire a professional roofer to do the job for you.