Roof repair – finding and fixing leaks


The roof of a home has the function of protecting all the structure below from rain, snow and sunlight; but specially moisture is what affect homeowners the most. If you find any spreading water stain, sagging drywall or an active drip, it’s fundamental to find a solution to what’s causing it, as quick as possible to avoid any further damages produced by moisture to the internal structure of the house.

Sometimes, minor leakages can be quite easy and inexpensive to fix, and even if they aren’t, having a professional finding and repairing a leak costs and average of $750, is important that you don’t ignore the problem, because leaks will slowly damage a house’s interior, destroying drywall, causing wood to rot and fixing mold to grow in your home’s structure.

That’s why knowing the basics on how to find and repair leans in shingled roofs can come handy to any homeowner, and though this guide is focused on that specific roof system it might come handy to fix any other types of sloped roofs.

How to find a roof leak?

In order to perform these steps in a safe way you will might need the help from another person, if you don’t feel qualified to execute any of the steps contact a professional.

To find the source of the leak you will need these tools:

  • A helper
  • Ladder
  • Dust Mask
  • Flashlight
  • Garden Hose (in case it isn’t raining)
  • Tape measure

Locate the leaking: have one person enter the attic to find the area where the water is leaking through your ceiling, is important to move aside any exposed fiberglass insulation when doing it. (Fiberglass insulation can cause itching and irritation, wear long sleeves, gloves and a dust mask)

Scan for water damage: to find the exact leak location you will have to scan above the ceiling leak location, generally leaks are found on the sheathing leading toward the peak of the roof.

Run water with a hose from the outside: having one person climbing on the roof to spray water in the area you suspect the leak is coming from will help you find the spot, you might need to run the water for a couple of minutes to do so.

Mark the location: once you find the leak source mark it to the ridgeline from within the attic.

What are the causes of a leak?

Weather is generally the main cause of damage to your home’s shingles also dying branches from overhanging trees can cause damages to your roof. Shingles roofs come usually have a warranty period of 15 to 50 years and as the older they get the easier they’ll get damaged. The most common causes of leaks are:

  • Missing Shingles
  • Cracked or Damaged Shingles
  • Gaps
  • Broken or Worn Flashing

Temporary fixes for emergency cases

In some cases, a quick fix might save you some headaches while you wait for help, to get it done you will need these tools and materials:

  • Ladder
  • Safety harness and rope
  • Hammer
  • Pylwood Sheet
  • 16+ feet of 2×4’s
  • Trowel
  • Roofing Sealant

Emergency Trap fix

You can cover the hole where the leak is coming from with a trap without causing any other damages to do it follow these steps:

  1. Cut the plastic sheeting to cover the leaking spot
  2. Place the trap over the hole and stretch over the ridgeline.
  3. Get the opposite sides of the sheet attached to the other two by four.

Sealant or Cement Fix

This only works as a quick fix as well, you can use spray-on silicone or wet-applied sealant inside the attic or on the roof during a storm. Is important to know that if you apply the sealant in the interior of the attic it will divert the water to another area and eventually will end up rotting the wood sheathing, that’s why it’s vital getting a professional inspecting your roof when the weather clears. To apply this fix, you will have to:

  1. Apply any of the two options to the area where the leak is located and seal the shingle tabs following the instructions on the sealant, cover at least three shingle rows above the leaking point.
  2. Inside, in the attic spray some coats of silicone sealant on the surrounding leak area.

Temporarily Patching a hole

High winds can damage your roof to the point where it makes a hole on it, a way to solve this problem is by cutting out and replacing the sheathing and damaged shingles as indicated below:

  1. Get a piece of plywood slightly larger than the hole.
  2. Place the piece of plywood over the hole, previously applying roofing mastic or cement around the whole, and screw or nail down the board.
  3. Apply mastic or cement around the edges of the board to seal the gap.

Is important to notice that all those fixes mentioned above are temporal solutions, is fundamental to get professional help from a roofer who can inspect the damages in your roof and save your home from great structural damage produced by a leak.

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