With all the recent rainfall we’ve had, we’re reminded how common a roof leak is, especially during heavy rainfall and storms. Really, this is the time the leaks happen. It’s important to know what you should do when your roof leaks, before an expert can get on site.
Firstly, we recommend that you DO NOT go on your roof, torrential storm or sunny weather! Not only is climbing up on a roof dangerous, but you can actually damage your roof if you walk on it, slide around, or are not careful. As your shingles age, they become brittle and susceptible to tearing and cracking; walking on your roof only compounds the problem.
So, until help arrives, here are a few things you can do
yourself to help protect your property during a roof leak.
-Minimize Interior Damage
This is your obvious first step. Depending on how severe the leak is, you want to minimize the interior damage as much as possible. If water is pooling in one area, try to get buckets and tubs under the leak to collect the water. Use plastic tarps and drop clothes to cover furniture, and large items that can’t be moved. Turn off the breaker to that room/area and remove electronics such as the television, computer, stereo equipment, etc.
If you have a leak pooling on the ceiling and the sheetrock starts to bulge, you can use a screwdriver to poke a small hols so the water can drain away…use a bucket. In the initial moments of the leak and when you find it, things always look worse than they are.
-Locate The Source
If possible, check the attic or other accessible areas to see if you can locate where the water is coming into your home. Remember, water can enter on one side of your house, travel along rafters or wires, and show itself in a completely different spot. Tracking down a leak can be tough sometimes. If it isn’t stormy or raining, you want to make sure that it’s actually the roof that’s leaking, and not some other issue such as your plumbing, hvac, or bathroom.
-Start Clean Up
Once you have located the leak and done your best to stop it from causing more damage by collecting water, etc, now you can focus on removing what water and water soaked items you can. A shop-vac is very handy in this situation as you can suck up water and even pull it out of the crack in the floor or out of your carpet. Removing as much water as possible will help to lessen the possibility of mold forming from the excess water, and may even help reduce floor warping. If your carpets are extremely soaked, it may be a good idea to pull them up so the sub floor doesn’t get further damage. Waterlogged wood can lead to mold. It’s cheaper to replace flooring than to replace the flooring, the subfloor, and also possibly joists and framing!
Many times roof leaks are caused by a simple issue that could have been prevented such as loose flashing or clogged gutters. If a large storm passes through and you think your home survived unscathed, it’s still a good idea to get a post-storm roof inspection. This is the time when catching small problems early can save you lots of money and headaches later on. Same goes for gutters. Keeping them clean and free of debris will help them do their job more efficiently when there’s a ton of gushing water coming down in the next thunderstorm.
We’d also like to mention here how important it is to keep the trees trimmed in your yard. If possible, have large branches overhanging your roof removed or cut back. Here in the Lowcountry, many plantations and HOA communities have strict rules about tree trimming and tree removal, but after the last two hurricanes, they have lessened their guidelines to assist in preventing massive property damage.
-What about small leaks that you can’t see?
Often, when we are called out on an emergency roof leak that is not the result of downed trees, we find small signs that, if previously noticed, might have been able to prevent some major damage. You may have a leaking roof already, and just not know it! Here is a good list of indicators of much bigger problems or signs that a more serious roof leak might be on the way:
- Water stains or damp spots on your ceiling
- Moist drywall or paint around light fixtures or electrical outlets
- Damp spots around interior air vents or fireplaces
- Interior paint bubbling or peeling during hard rains
- Dripping sounds inside your home
- Water stains on rafters or on roof sheathing inside your attic
- A musty house smell (especially in your attic)
- Curling or buckling shingles on your roof
- Loose shingles laying in your yard
- Loose or exposed nails on your roof
- Cracked or damaged flashing around roof vents
- Loose flashing or cracked sealants around your chimney
- Roof rot with discolored or excessively degraded shingles
- Peeling paint or rotten areas under roof eaves
- Clogged or loose gutters & downspouts
- Debris piles in roof valleys or above chimney
- Shingle granules in your gutters
Whatever the issue or type of roof leak, we know how stressful it can be and we also know how urgent it is to stop the water and get your roof repaired. If you find yourself in a situation of a roof leak, we would love for you to be our customer. If you just need an estimate, we are happy to assist with that, too. Roof leaks are typically just signs of a much larger problem. The danger of structural problems are serious if unaddressed. Regular roof inspections are your best defense against a leaky roof.