How to Fix a Leaky Roof

Picture this. You get home from work on a rainy day. You take off your shoes and sit down to warm up when you notice a dripping sound. That’s when you find out your carpet is all wet; and so are your socks. You have a roof leak. So what do you do? Is this going to be expensive? Can a DIY project save money or cause to much of mess? All of these are good questions you need to ask yourself if you have a roof leak.

Listed in this article are several tips and practical advice for fixing a roof leak. We’ll cover the basics of what to look for in finding the leak, to the final fix up and clean up. By using this advice, you may be able to save your roof a few more years before and expensive re-shingling is needed.

Depending on where the leak is at on your roof, is how to begin to attack the leak. First you should pinpoint its location on the ceiling or wall. Using your attic access and a good and bright flashlight, locate the spot in your attic. Typically, a leak occurs around an opening in the roof. A plumbing pipe, wall flashing, or roof venting is a common place for a roof to fail. Look for the leak on the exposed plywood. Water runs downhill, so by looking up the roof, you are more than likely to find its origin. Look for signs of graying wood, or rust for signs of water damage. If any rotting is occurring you should consult a builder for an estimate, or if your more inclined, replace the rotted material. Sometimes a quick fix is necessary . By “scabbing on” 2×4 or a bigger board onto each side of the rotted joist can sometimes help to do a quick repair on the rotting wood. Once you find the leak its time to go back outside, but before you go, try to imagine the place on the roof where it leaks. Use pipes and other roof penetrations to help map your leak. You can also count spaces between trusses. Each space is roughly two feet apart, so when you get outside you use a tape measure on the roof to help find a leak.

Once your outdoors in the fresh air again, its time for the tricky part. Trying to find the tiny spot where water can get through your roof and into your house. Using an extension ladder to gain access to your roof is dangerous, so if your uncomfortable with walking up high, hire a professional. Once up on top of the roof, it should be an easy jog of the memory to recreate the spot that you saw the roof leak in the attic. Many times it is very difficult to spot a minor leak. Typically they tend to be around vents or other roof penetrations. Check the entire area above the leak you saw earlier in the attic. Many roof leaks are caused by spots above and to the sides of the original spot inside. So searching all the areas around the leak is a good idea. Some leaks are small and hard to find because of their unobvious signs. Shingle tears occur from wind and ageing. These should be replaced with a new shingle or sometimes tar or bull can help fix tears. Nail penetrations are another well hidden sign of a leak.

Once you have found the leak, the easy part is fixing it. To help fix a leak around vents, use a flexible caulking or roofing tar in a tube. This ensures you have a fine line around vents and pipes that will be visually appealing. You certainly don’t want tar smeared in a huge circle around your roof.

For flashing leaks, use a roof adhesive that comes in a bucket and buy a new piece of flashing to go over the old flashing. Just simply place roofing tar on the new flashings under side and apply right over the old flashing and shingles. Use minimal nailing in the corners only and tar over the nails.

To fix leaks caused by a shingle tearing or rot, use a small putty knife or wood shim to spread a small amount of tar under the tear. Remove any excess tar and gently press down on the tear holding it firmly for a few minutes. If the tear is to big or missing a tab, replace the shingle. You can find the name of the shingles used on your old blue prints, or use the piece of shingle that’s tore off for a sample when going to the improvement center.

If it a nail that didn’t quite make it into the roof sheathing, that’s called a shiner. It can cause a leak if the builder didn’t take it out before the shingles were installed. It works it way out of the plywood over time from the weather and can pierce a shingle causing a leak. Remove the nail with a claw hammer without causing more damage to the roof and dab with matching color caulk or tar. A trick of the trade is to go into the gutter on your house and pull out some granules that fell of the roof and collect. Sprinkle these over the spots where you used tar and the black tar instantly matches your roof.

By using safety and common sense, you can help save your house from a leak, and save you money and future damage to your home. Always be careful when on a roof, and remember to hire a professional if you feel unsafe or if theirs serious damage.

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