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How Do You Repair A Leaky Roof?

The source of most roof leaks is hard to find because it originates away from where the leak shows up. To find the source of a leak, follow a roofer’s advice and “think like water.”

If you can easily find the location of the leak, you might be able to fix it using a quick-drying silicone-based sealant, or by placing a small sheet of metal or lead flashing over any damaged roof tiles or shingles. 

If your gutters are the issue, it might be a simple matter of clearing out any debris and replacing or repairing any damaged sections of the gutter as required. Top Glaze has the best range of services if you’re looking for Melbourne roof repairs.

Causes of Roof Leaks – How to Find and Fix Common Roof Leaks

They are the two most dreaded words in a homeowner’s vocabulary: a leaky roof. Water is the most insidious foe, eager to penetrate your home covering’s most vulnerable defences. 

And once inside, the damage and destruction may be taking place far from the point of the initial issue, making the initial source of a roof leak difficult to identify.

Roof leaks can ruin insulation, become a breeding ground for black mould, damage interior ceilings, and walls, and rot the wooden framing.

So let’s look at  ten of the most common culprits in causing your roof to leak and what you can and should do about them (other than recruiting a bucket brigade):

Age

Roofing materials, especially asphalt shingles, get old and tired. Expansion and contraction with the change in temperatures cause aging roof protection to turn brittle and eventually crack. 

Years of harsh rays from direct sunlight can melt the tar that holds composition shingles together. Also, when roofing materials run up against their life expectancy, it will be time to budget for a new roof at the first sign of a leak.

Brick Chimneys

Brick Chimney

Have you ever seen house ruins from 200 years ago? The chimney is often the only thing standing. 

All kinds of bad things can happen around brick chimneys. There are far too many to cover here. Flashing around chimneys can rust through if it’s galvanised steel, especially at the 90-degree bend at the bottom. 

A quick but fairly long-term fix is to simply slip new flashing under the old rusted material. That way, any water that seeps through will be diverted. The best fix, though, is to cut a saw kerf into the mortar and install new flashing.

Flashing

Speaking of chimneys, compromised flashing is a common problem on a roof. Flashing are thin strips of metal installed at danger points for leaks around a roof. For a chimney, they are bent at a 90-degree angle to attach to both the roofing material and the brick chimney.

Flashing needs to be properly sealed to protect against water intrusion. It also needs to remain nailed in place, and even if that is all squared away, the metal can rust or crack.

Step flashing is used along walls that intersect the roof. Each short section of flashing channels water over the shingle downhill from it. But if the flashing rusts through, or a piece comes loose, water will run right behind it, and into the house, it goes. 

Rusted flashing needs to be replaced. That means removing shingles, prying siding loose, and then removing and replacing the step flashing. It’s that simple. But occasionally a roofer forgets to nail one in place, and it eventually slips down to expose the wall. 

Expect the cost of replacing old flashing to run a few hundred dollars, depending on job size and desired material. 

Although it may be tempting to marshal the forces of caulking and roof cement in the battle against faulty flashing, this is only a temporary solution best reserved if you know the roof will soon be replaced.

Missing Shingles

If you find a shingle lying in your garden, chances are the next rainstorm will be sending water into your house. 

Replacing a shingle is a matter of prying off the nails from the course below and sliding the new shingle into place. Nail the newcomer down securely and then re-nail its neighbouring shingles.

Do not expect to achieve a perfect colour match unless you have some leftover shingles from your existing roof that have been left out to weather as well. 

This procedure applies to cracked shingles as well, although you may not discover the offending shingle until a leak has already sprouted. Depending on the pitch of the roof, this can be a DIY job or require an hour or two of a contractor’s time.

Vent Boot

The venting boot is a close relative of flashing. Fabricated from rubber, it slides over the plastic vent pipes that protrude from a roof to work with flashing to waterproof the junction of roof and pipe.

Vent boots can be plastic, metal, rubber, or any combination. When the gasket stops working the old boot must be pulled off, usually with the aid of a knife, and a new one installed. Like shingle work, this is a job that can be handled without a call to a contractor.

Holes

A hole can result in a roof from storm damage or damage by animals such as squirrels and raccoons. Roof holes can also be more sneaky, living for years until an inspection uncovers them. These devious tiny holes can result from misplaced roofing nails. Or they can be leftover from a former antenna mounting bracket.

Again, the best fix is with a small piece of flashing under the shingle and not just a dab of caulk. This is another easy job for the homeowner or can be combined with a thorough inspection from a professional roofer.

Complex Roof Architecture

Complex Roof Architecture

Your dynamic roofline may be an architect’s pride and joy and a real showstopper from the street, but all those valleys and slopes can be an invitation for disaster if they are not properly sealed. 

Installing a leak barrier that keeps water flowing off the roof and still looking attractive, is a job for professionals and expected to pay according to the complexity of your roofline.

Complex roofs can be problematic even when maintained in tip-top shape. In snowy areas, a roof’s configuration may not work in helping snow slide off the top of your house. 

If the snow piles up, ice dams can potentially form from a combination of melting from your attic’s heat and refreezing on the colder edges at the bottom of a slope.

Ice dams place unwelcome weight stress on a roof, but also keep corrosive water in contact with the roof surface for long periods of time, encouraging seepage under the shingles.

If you cannot keep the edges of your roof clear with a roof rake or ice melting product, an alternative would be roof edge heating cables. These can cost anywhere from fifty to a couple of hundred dollars, not including the bump in your winter electric bill.

Metal roofing or metal ice belts (a partial metal roof usually aluminium, zinc, or copper) can also be a great option to help prevent many issues associated with the snow build-up.

Clogged Gutters

Speaking of impeded water, if your gutters are too gummed-up with junk to permit water to travel away from your roof and foundation, that is an invitation for trouble. Grab a ladder and some latex gloves and get the job done — or pay someone to clean out those clogged gutters.

The cost of professional gutter cleaning will range from $100 to $300 dollars, depending on the size of your property and the amount of debris needed to be removed.

Skylights

Who doesn’t love a skylight? They can instantly transform any room or interior space! Hopefully, yours was fitted and installed properly.

Leaks Around Skylight

Leaks can sprout down the sides of poorly fitted skylights, and the rubber seal around the glass can dry out and wear out as well, ruining the water barrier.

Check for cracks in the flashing along the top and the sides of the skylight, as well as any missing or cracked shingles around it. 

Also, ensure the skylight was installed with proper pitch. Most skylight leaks occur due to flashing issues or improper installation, not due to the failure of the glazing that comes with the skylight.

If you discover cracks in the flashing around the skylight or any missing or cracked shingles, then the skylight will need to be professionally repaired or replaced, with new flashing and shingles applied. If the rubber seal surrounding the skylight has dried out, then the skylight will need to be professionally replaced.

A temporary repair will involve applying high-quality caulk such as Vulkem or Lexel. The cost of a temporary repair will be anywhere from $50 to $300.

To professionally re-shingle and re-flash a leaky skylight will cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000, depending on the ease of access (number of storeys and roof slope) and the amount of labour required. Replacing a leaky skylight altogether will cost anywhere from $1,250 to $2,500 for most roofs.

Shiners

Not every roofing nail finds its mark. If one has missed the rafters and protrudes into the attic, it is a candidate for water damage. On cold nights in an unheated attic, the exposed metal nail can frost up (hence, the “shiner”).

When the weather warms during the day, the frost will melt away and begin dripping. It may not seem like much until it happens day after day after day and you suddenly have a brown spot in your bedroom ceiling. Your only short-term cost for this fix will be the purchase of side-splitting pliers and a bit of your time.

However, having moisture that causes shiners in your attic space indicates that your attic space is not insulated nor ventilated properly. This will need to be corrected if you want to prolong the longevity of your roof deck, as well as help minimise the chance of ice dams forming on your roof.

Fix that leaky roof

Once you’ve done all you can to get the situation under control and minimise the damage in your home, it’s time to get your roof fixed. To be sure it’s fixed right the first time and never returns, you should call a licensed roofing contractor.

Here are a few tips to help you choose the right contractor:

  • Get several quotes from different companies
  • Make certain your contractor is licensed, insured and will provide all required permits
  • Be sure your contractor agrees to locate and do a thorough roof repair to all wood damage before re-roofing your home
  • Ask your contractor to outline specific maintenance instructions for your new roof
  • Ask about the guarantee and the expected life of the roof
  • Be sure your contractor agrees the roof must pass municipal inspection before the work is considered complete

Do not allow the work to begin until you’re comfortable each of these important requirements has been met. Also, beware of fly-by-night companies that may try to take advantage of you – especially soon after a natural disaster.

How to prevent roof leaks

Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to roof leaks, and the best way to prevent a leaking roof is regular care and maintenance. A solid, watertight roof is an absolute must, especially as winter approaches and rainfall increases. To keep your roof in great condition and avoid any leaks, you need to stay vigilant and keep ahead of any possible damage.

Have your roof inspected regularly

Get a professional plumber to inspect your roof each season for damage or deterioration. We can check for any damage to flashing or broken seals where water might trickle through, and advise on any immediate actions to take to avoid permanent damage.

Get your gutters cleaned

Dirty Roof Gutter

Cleaning out your gutters is a job you should be scheduled at least twice a year. If your gutters are old or clogged up with leaves and debris, this water could overflow and trickle down into weak spots in your roof. If you’re unsure about climbing up onto a ladder yourself, get a professional to clean your gutters for you. Looking for roof gutter cleaning services? Check out Top Glaze Melbourne.

Inspect your roof plumbing

If you have plumbing running through your roof, such as vent pipes, exhaust pipes, or fan ducts, you need to ensure they stay sealed. Sealed and flashed holes in your roof around pipes can wear down after periods of extreme weather or high rainfall, and need to be kept in check.

If your roof leaks intermittently, take note of the wind direction, strength and rain angles at the times when it leaks as this information is valuable and makes us more efficient and cost-effective when we come to access, trace and repair the source of such roof leaks.

If you’re having trouble locating the source of a roof leak, need help with the repairs, or just want to take preventative measures, call in a plumbing professional. Trained plumbers can make sure any leak is sealed quickly and effectively before they become a bigger problem. They can also advise on any potential future problems your roof might face, helping to reduce the chance of further damage.

Stop the water damage

Once you discover an active leak in your roof, the first thing to do is minimise the water damage as much as possible. To do this, you should move or put a plastic covering over anything that can be damaged by water. This includes furniture, electronics, and other valuables.

Prevent future roof leaks

After you’ve had your roof repaired or replaced, there are a few easy steps you need to take to prevent it from leaking again:

  • Trim those trees – Falling tree branches can puncture your roof, while low-hanging limbs can scrape your roof’s surface over time, compromising its performance.
  • Keep gutters and downspouts clean – Falling leaves, acorns, and other small debris can clog your gutters and downspouts, giving the water a place to accumulate. Use a garden hose to remove clogs and keep your gutters clear. If you have a stubborn clog, remove the downspout and clear it with a mop handle or other long object.
  • Check your collars and flashing – Some roof leaks are caused by cracked or missing chimney and vent flashing, or compromised pipe collars. If the flashing or collar is badly damaged, it may need to be replaced. If the seal has simply failed, it may be possible to repair it with roofing tar in some cases.

Call Your Insurance Agent 

If you know (or even suspect) that your home has sustained heavy damage, call your insurance agent. Although your policy may not cover damage from a leaky roof, contact your insurance agent as soon as possible and let them determine what is and isn’t covered.

Working on top of a roof can be difficult and dangerous. Unless your roof’s pitch is relatively low and you have the necessary experience, tools, and confidence to get the job done safely, you should leave this work to a professional. Looking for roof repairs? Look no further! Top Glaze has you covered. 

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