Most roof repair is done to prevent or fix a leak. Usually, the first sign of a leak shows up in your home as water stains but finding the source of that leak can be tricky. Here are a few tips on finding and fixing those leaks.
Finding the Leaks
Before you can do any roof repair, you have to find the leak. The best way to find a leak is by going with a flashlight in the attic and checking for mold, black marks, or water stains. If you do not have an attic, or if access is restricted, then you can go up on the roof to look.
If you can’t find the leak on the roof right above the stain, it may be uphill from the stain or to the left or right of it. Roof penetrations are the most common place for leaks to occur, so check those as well. Penetrations are anything that goes through the roof, such as chimneys, plumbing, and roof vents.
Some leaks will be harder to find. In this case, you can use a special technique with a hose. You will also need a helper to stay inside the home to let you know when they see drips. Start soaking the area above where the leak shows in the home. You want to start low and then go higher on the roof, isolating areas as you go. For example, soak the bottom side of the chimney first, then soak each side, and finish with the top. It will be time-consuming so have patience and don’t move the hose too fast. Let it really soak the area for a few minutes.
If this method does not reveal the exact location of the leak, you can remove shingles from the suspected area. This will hopefully reveal evidence of the leak, such as water-stained or rotted wood and discolored felt paper around the leak.
Plumbing Vent Boots
In some cases, leaks are caused by plumbing vent boots. Plumbing vent boots can be made of metal, plastic, or a combination of the two. If the base of the boot has cracks or broken seams, water will be able to penetrate the home. Also, make sure the rubber boot surrounding the pipe is in good condition.
This issue can be solved in one of two ways depending on the severity of the problem. When the vent boot is in good shape, but the nails at the base are missing, or have been pulled free, all you have to do is replace the nails with rubber-washered screws. If you don’t have extra shingles, be careful when pulling them up so you can reuse them. Your roof repair will consist of replacing the whole vent boot if the vent boot itself is damaged.
Leaks can also stem from cracked roof vents. In this case, you might be tempted to use caulk to fix the problem, but that would only be a short-lived solution. The best course of action here is to replace the vent entirely.
Siding and Windows
Sometimes, the problem is not with the roofing of the home, even though the stain appears on the ceiling. Sometimes water penetrates the siding and corner boards of the windows in dormer walls. The solution here is to check the old caulk and see if it is cracked or permeable. In some cases, there won’t be visual cues, so you will have to check with a putty knife. If you suspect that the caulk is ineffective, replace it with new siliconized latex caulk. Cracked, damaged or rotted siding must also be replaced with a 2-inch overlap on the step flashing.
The chimney is also a potential problem spot. The flashing around it can rust, especially at the bottom 90-degree bend. The best roof repair solution is to replace the flashing, but there is also a quick fix. Simply install new flashing under the old, rusted one.
Is your roof leaking?
A leaky roof can cause considerable damage to your home, and it’s important that a leak is fixed as soon as possible to prevent more damage. While some leaks are easily found and fixed by a DIY enthusiast, others stem from more complex issues, including mistakes made during roof installation. Depending on your problem, you may be better off getting help from a professional roofer.