How To Find & Repair Roof Leaks

By Subodh / April 4, 2013

Even small roof leaks can build into something much worse if not properly dealt with when they’re spotted. Water leaks can damage electrical fittings, and can lead to a build up of mould that could ruin your insulation. As a result, it’s crucial to know how to find and repair roof leaks, and to know when to call in roofing professionals to handle more serious problems – this can include complete flooding, or damage after a storm has dislodged shingles and broken through to your insulation and interiors.

Finding Leaks

Primarily, you should regularly inspect your attic for any small leaks, and particularly after heavy rain or a storm; it might be difficult to spot small leaks, so shine a torch through a room to try to pick up any water drops. You might also notice the sound of dripping if you are in a room near to the roof. It’s possible to identify where leaks may be coming from by checking the shingles or tiles directly above where you’ve identified a leak – brown or yellow spots are typical giveaways of ceiling damage. Once you’ve found the shingles, check for looseness, and for any secondary signs of rust or mold around them

Repair Roof Leaks

Repairing Leaks

You may also find that leaks are coming through windows, which can be an issue with dormer windows – this usually indicates a problem with the caulking around the frame of a window and a roof – putty knives can be used to remove broken caulk, and to replace it with a new layer. Check to see whether a leak persists in the day after you’ve repaired the caulk, and see how well it holds up to heavy rain.

Other problems with leaks can involve flashing, which represents metal used to protect intersections and roof units like heating vents; flashing that isn’t properly nailed down with cause leaks to run through into difficult to reach areas. You may also have to lift up shingles around flashing in order to check for deeper levels of mold and rust – if you do find rust, scrape it away with a wire brush, and remember to separate two different metals if they’re connecting.

Smaller holes might also be found in shingles, and are usually the result of installations like satellite dishes that haven’t been noticed. Even small holes can cause leaks if water is allowed to build up – if you can, curl back loose or brittle shingles that have a lot of holes, and caulk them to ensure that holes are sealed up. Shingles that have a significant amount of damage should, though, be fully removed and replaced.

Flat Roofs

Slightly different approaches can be taken for dealing with leaks on flat roofs; water tends to pool in places, and can sink through into roofing felt and tar layers, causing blisters and cracks that can swell over time. To resolve a water blister, you’ll need to slice it open, before carefully pressing water out. The blister can then be dried out, and the under layer of felt and tar checked for further cracks and erosion. A new layer of roof cement should be enough to seal up the blister.

Chimney Leaks

When dealing with leaks from chimneys, your first approach should be to check the flashing and the caulking around them, as these could be causing leaks down into the chimney shaft. Loosen flashing from its mortar joints, remove debris and cracks, and add in a new layer of caulk to properly seal up joints and the chimney. A similar strategy can be employed for dealing with vent pipes, where metal sheets can be lifted, cleaned, and nailed back down with added mortar.

Gutter Maintenance

It’s also important to remember to maintain your gutters if you want to prevent water from building up and causing structural damage to your roof. Gutters can be blocked up by leaves, dirt, and snow after a storm; the easiest way to maintain your gutters is to use a plastic scoop to remove loose debris, and a hose to spray out everything else. Leaf strainers can similarly be used with downspouts to prevent clogging. If there any cracks or holes in your gutters, use wire screening patches, sheet metal, and roof cement to seal them up if they can still be saved.

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