Roof leaks are a problem in any weather, but a roof that starts to leak during a heavy rainstorm can quickly turn into a major emergency. Unfortunately, a roof leak is most likely to happen due to rainy weather. This when roofers become inundated with calls from panicked homeowners!
If your roof is leaking but your roofer can’t get there immediately, there are some things you can do to minimise the damage to your home’s interior as well as the roof. And since roofing companies often charge extra for emergency calls, doing work ahead of time may save you money on your repair bill.
What Are The Signs Of A Leaking Roof?
Signs of a leaking roof can range from obvious to subtle. If you’re having trouble identifying whether you have a roof leak, here are some tell-tale signs:
- Your ceiling is leaking water
- Water is dripping from above and creating a puddle on the floor
- Water stains are spreading across your ceiling
- Your house walls are covered in water streaks
- A water stain appears as a large puddle on the ceiling, ringed with a brown colour
- A smaller water stain appears in a dark corner (despite its size, this may indicate significant damage)
- There are water spots on your exterior walls
- Your exterior walls are covered in algae, moss, or mould
- You see missing shingles or debris in your downspouts
- Your roof’s shingles have cracked, buckled, or curled
Why Is My Roof Leaking?
Let’s talk about some of the most common reasons for a leaking roof:
- Your clogged gutters are causing a leak – If your gutters become too clogged, it will prevent water from travelling away from your roof and foundation, potentially triggering a roof leak.
- Your roof has missing or cracked shingles – If you have missing or damaged roof tiles, these must be replaced as soon as possible to stop the leak.
- Your flashing is causing a leak – If you have a chimney, the leak may be caused by flashing at the base of your chimney, which has rusted, cracked, or not been sealed properly with roof sealant.
- Your roof vent is damaged – If your vent has cracked, rusted, or has broken seams, it can create a leaking issue.
- Your skylight is leaking – If your skylight has a leak around the rubber seal bordering the glass, water may run inside and drip into your home’s interior.
- Your roof valley is punctured – A leak can happen when the roof valley (either the valley metal or shingles) have been damaged.
- Your roof membrane or roof sarking was poorly installed – If your roof membrane or roof sarking has been improperly installed, it may be punctured over time, creating a leak.
- Your roof is old – As the materials in your roof exceed their life expectancy, they will start to break down, and this can compromise the integrity of your roof. If this is the case, it may be time to replace your roof or re-apply your roof waterproofing.
No one ever wants to find water leaking from their ceiling. Whether you are home when the leak starts or come home to it, you must take immediate action to avoid further damage to your home.
How To Stop A Roof Leak Temporarily Safeguard Your Possessions
The first step to deal with a leak is to protect your possessions from water damage. Immediately move any furniture, rugs, electronics, and possessions away from the area, ideally into a different room. If this is not possible, cover your furniture with plastic or tarp.
Grab A Bucket To Contain The Water
If you have a bucket or two, now’s the time to make use of them! Position them directly underneath the leak to catch the incoming water. If your leak is running rapidly, grab a second bucket to switch in when the first bucket needs emptying.
Soak Up The Water
Attempt to soak up as much of the water as possible using old towels or mops. Turning on a fan can be helpful as this will help circulate air through the space to dry out the area and prevent nasty mould from growing.
Most mould is harmless, but certain strands of mould – especially black moulds – can cause a range of unpleasant or dangerous symptoms in humans if the spores are inhaled or ingested.
We recommend making sure your contractor is licensed, insured, and has a wealth of experience and happy customer testimonials. Once they perform the roof leak repair, ask them to provide specific maintenance instructions to keep your new roof in good condition.
Contain the Leak
If you find water dripping from a bulge or discolouration in your ceiling, it’s likely that water is collecting on the other side of that bulge or dark spot. Grab a bucket, trash can, or some other container and place it under the site of the drip or suspected leak.
You may even want to consider propping up a board inside the container, so the drips of water hit the board and not the accumulated water pool. This will minimise the repetitive dripping sound.
Next, take an old screwdriver, locate the centre of the bulge where water is accumulating and puncture it right in the middle.
Though it might seem strange to punch a hole in your ceiling to stop a leak, the new hole will allow the water to drain smoothly and relieve pressure on the rest of your ceiling. If water accumulates and accumulates, the entire ceiling could collapse.
If you are confident you know where the leak is coming from and can safely get to the source, cover the exterior surface with a large tarp. If you can’t reach it or feel unsafe doing so, it would be best to contact a roofing professional immediately.
Many credible roofing companies offer emergency roof repair, such as tarping services. Unfortunately, if your roof is actively leaking due to weather, a roofing professional can not repair the leak until that weather has stopped.
The tarping service will act as a temporary fix to minimise the damage inside your home until your roofer can fix the problem.
An experienced roofing professional will inspect your roof both from the exterior of the roof itself as well as the inside of your home, typically through the attic.
Inspecting the underside of the roof sheeting can show signs of water damage. However, it is not a foolproof method, so inspecting the roof for damage is needed as well.
Leaking Roofs, Gutters, and Skylights
To effectively deal with a leaking roof, gutter, or skylight, you need a versatile product that will provide a watertight bond without being obvious, such as Selleys Storm Sealant. A good product will deliver a waterproof seal on any material, wet or dry; indoor, or outdoor.
Repairs to Flashing
Around chimneys, skylights, exhaust fans, and other roof penetrations. flashings are used to keep the weather out, but sometimes the flashing starts to leak.
A good sealant will seal flashing to prevent these types of leaks.
Simply caulk in the sealant between the flashing and the roof and push firmly into place. Tape or hold in place until firm enough to prevent lifting.
Repair cracked or broken roof tiles
Over time, roof tiles can become affected by extreme weather conditions and may become loose, cracked, or broken.
Damaged roof tiles can lead to serious water damage and need to be repaired quickly. Great quality sealants can be used to seal cracks and/or bond broken tile pieces together. They provide a waterproof seal to protect your home from the elements.
Call A Professional To Perform Your Roof Leak Repair
Of course, the above solutions are only short term fixes! If your roof leaks due to heavy rain even once, chances are it is bound to happen again.
If left unchecked, roof leaks can wreak massive damage on your property. That’s why it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible.
We recommend calling a professional roofing company, who can prevent the roof leak from occurring again by doing some necessary roof repair:
- Making sure all roof materials are installed properly
- Applying a roof sealant for leaks
- Using only high-quality roof waterproofing products
How to Stop a Leaking Roof During Heavy Rains
As previously mentioned, a roof that leaks is a problem in any weather, but a roof that suddenly begins to leak during a heavy rainstorm can quickly turn into an emergency.
Emergency Roof Patching
If you have access, head over up to the attic and clear insulation off the wet ceiling drywall then sponge off any standing water.
Lay a piece of plywood across the joists and put a bucket on the plywood to catch the water. Don’t put the bucket directly on the drywall because it may fall through when it fills with water.
Follow the leak back to the point at which it enters the roof. This could be quite far from the point where it’s dripping onto the ceiling. You can typically trace the path along a rafter, but water sometimes follows the underside of the roof deck.
Make a temporary patch with roofing tar and a piece of shingle or plywood. Trowel the roofing tar into the leak on the underside of the roof deck, using a putty knife. Push the shingle or plywood into the tar and trowel more roofing tar around the edges of the patch.
Measure the distance of the leak from the gable and the ridge, while you’re in the attic, using a tape measure. Wait for the rain to let up before you attempt to go on the roof. Put on rubber-soled shoes, go on the roof, and measure the same dimensions on the roof. Fortify the undersides of the shingles in the vicinity of the leak with more roofing tar. Don’t attempt to access the roof without taking adequate safety precautions.
Temporary Tape and Caulk
Tarps may seem like a good idea because they can prevent further rain from entering your home. It would be unsafe to climb on the roof during a storm. However, a tarp is not the best choice when you first notice a leak.
Luckily, you can use roofing tape or caulk inside your attic to help close any holes or prevent water from flowing further. These items can be purchased at most local hardware stores and are great to have around the house in times of need.
The Inside of Your House
The first thing you want to do is deal with the leak inside your house so you can minimise interior damage.
Most of the time, a roof leak will form a small puddle in the attic and/or ceiling until it finds an escape route–usually something like a light fixture or heating register.
Ceiling joints or corners are other spots where leaks will often occur. Sometimes these leaks happen in multiple places from one source, making it look much worse than it usually is.
If the ceiling is holding water or you see a bulge in the drywall, poke a hole in the centre with a screwdriver or other similar object in the middle of it.
This will drain water to that one spot, which will help lessen the damage to the ceiling and help collect the water into one stream.
To collect the water, you can always use buckets or large cooking pots, but the best idea is to use the garbage pail you put outside for waste disposal.
These containers are large, and most have wheels, making them easier to move even if they are filled with water.
If you have time beforehand, move any objects in the room that could be damaged by moisture off from the ground or into a different room.
You may also want to put down drop cloths, garbage bags, or tarp on the floor to make sure that carpeting and flooring stay dry as well.
Try to do this as soon as possible after “draining” water from the ceiling. This will also make any cleanup easier and protect surfaces from not just water, but from dust and debris created by removing any damaged drywall or ceiling tiles.
Now that you have done damage control and done the most to keep the interior of your home from the least amount of damage possible, it is time to try to find the source of the roof leak.
Relieving the Pressure
If the leak is visibly spreading on your ceiling but has not broken through yet, you can poke a small hole into the ceiling to allow the water to drain. This allows you to control the leak before the pooled-up water gets too heavy and causes a ceiling collapse.
Water pools can eventually collapse or leak into your walls, lighting fixtures, or around wiring. By using a ladder and a screwdriver, simply poke a hole in the middle of the ceiling where the water is accumulating, and have a bucket ready underneath to catch it.
Find the Source of the Roof Leak
Finding the source of the leak can be extremely frustrating, but if you don’t find the source of the leak, any repairs or temporary fixes you do are going to be useless. Water can travel far from the source and cause damage elsewhere.
Start by locating the roof leak on the inside of your house. You want to make sure that the source of the leak is the roof and not due to a problem in other parts of your house.
Some of the culprits for household leaks include plumbing, heating and cooling units, condensations, pest infestation, or even clogged gutters.
Do some exploration and investigation. The leak in your ceiling or wall will often not align. Removing damaged drywall or ceiling tiles to see where the leak is coming from will often help you find the source of the leak as well as dry out the water-damaged space.
Emergency Roof Covering
Prepare a plastic roof cover if you can’t get in the attic and have no way of determining the exact location of the leak. Use a 1 metre roll of 6-mil polyethylene plastic.
Unroll the plastic but don’t unfold it. Measure enough to cover a section of the roof from the eave to the ridge, add an extra metre, and cut it from the roll with a utility knife. Unfold the plastic just one fold to make a strip 2 – metres wide.
Roll one end of the plastic around a 2-metre two-by-four and staple the plastic to the wood. Cut another 2-metre, two-by-four and nail it to the first, with the plastic sandwiched between the two pieces of wood.
Go on the roof and place the wood along the eaves. Stretch the plastic over the ridge, covering the approximate location of the leak.
Staple the other end to another two-by-four and nail the fourth two-by-four to that one. Allow that pair of two-by-fours to hang down on the opposite side of the ridge.
Roof leaks and water damage are costly problems that are very often detected too late after the damage is already there. By keeping these tips in mind and taking proper precautions, the issues may be prevented, and your roof’s life prolonged.