Your home’s roof has many purposes—it boosts your curb appeal, encapsulates your home’s style, insulates during the cold months, and keeps you cool in the hot months.
Most importantly, though, it keeps your home safe from the elements. It’s a shelter over your head, and it keeps you warm and dry no matter the weather.
Of course, you want it to function properly and not leak. Unfortunately, roof leaks can be quite common if you don’t properly maintain your roof or know the signs of a roof leak when it happens. But don’t worry, we have a few helpful tips to protect your home from roof leaks and the steps to take if it does.
How to Find a Roof Leak Step-by-Step
Finding a roof leak can be difficult to the untrained eye, but there are a few tips and tricks for the everyday homeowner for finding a suspected roof leak. After a severe storm, or if you have seen small signs of a roof leak, take the following steps to pinpoint where your roof is (or may be) leaking.
Step 1: Watch for These Common Signs of a Roof Leak
Ideally, you can catch and avoid a roof leak before it infiltrates inside your home, but if you notice these things, chances are you have either a roof leak or excessive moisture in your attic.
- Stains or wet spots on your ceiling or interior walls
- Moisture or mold growth in the attic
- Distorted or curled shingles
- Damp external walls
- Wet roof decking
- Your gutters are dripping water long after a rainfall
- Missing or damaged flashing around chimney or boots
- Missing shingles or granules
If you notice any of the signs above, the first thing you should do is schedule a professional inspection. If you wish, you can attempt to pinpoint hard-to-see leaks. You can do this by running a hose over your roof and having someone watch for any immediate drips.
This should be done with care, though, especially for the inexperienced. Putting too much water on your leaking roof can lead to more water damage. So if you don’t see any apparent drips, turn off the hose and move to the next step and hire a professional. You can also make temporary repairs with tarps or buckets to help prevent further damage.
Step 2: Get a Professional Roof Inspection
If you notice any of the above signs of a roof leak, you should call a professional to get a comprehensive roof inspection. Especially after storms or the spring melt, your roof could be susceptible to damage and thus leaks.
A professional roofer like Northface Construction can quickly and easily spot any hail or wind damage on your roof. They can also determine whether the staining on your ceiling is from a roof leak or just excess moisture in your attic. Both things can help fix and alleviate that concern.
On your roof, they will look for curled or missing shingles, missing granules, hail dents, damaged gutters, or flashing—all things that can lead to a roof leak. They can then repair these minor damages and save you the pain of replacing your roof or even parts of your attic and ceiling in the event of a severe leak.
How to Repair a Roof Leak
Once the source of the leak is found, there are a few ways to repair the roof leak if it’s just a simple repair. Some leaks may be extensive enough for a total replacement, but your professional contractor can determine that for you during the inspection.
To fix a roof leak, follow these tips:
Repair or Replace Your Roofing Vents
This is usually the first place a professional will look for a roof leak. Your roof vents should be well-sealed to prevent water from getting inside and causing leaks. But if they are damaged, even cracked, you can quickly get extensive water damage to seep into those cracks.
Replacing a roofing vent or pipe boot is relatively simple.
Step 1: Remove the shingles around the vent or boot.
Step 2: Make sure the underlayment is free of cracks or damage. If it is, replace that section and seal tightly around the pipe boot/vent.
Step 3: Replace with a new vent if cracked, or replace the flashing around it.
Step 4: For added security, use rubber washer screws used for metal roofing. These can add an extra layer of protection once the roofing vents are re-installed.
Replace Roof Flashing
Step flashing or flashing around your walls, dormers, skylights, chimneys, etc., are very susceptible to leaks once damaged. They can get damaged from wind or hail damage or just wear and tear over time. To repair or replace them, follow these steps:
Step 1: Remove all caulking around the edges of the flashing. Use a putty knife or scraper to break any caulk.
Step 2: Remove and replace the damaged flashing with new sheets of metal flashing.
Step 3: Re-caulk and seal any areas that were removed or replaced during this process.
Watch this video for a peek at a simple flashing repair.
Fill in Small Holes With Caulk
Roofing nails and other fasteners on your roof can rust over time, causing them to leak in those areas. They can also loosen from several things or even come out entirely if shingles were lifted during a strong wind storm. These holes create a prime spot for water to seep in. Simply use caulk or adhesive to fill these holes, then ensure shingles or flashing are securely installed over the top.
Replace Small Section of Shingles
If your section of shingles has gotten damaged, it’s best to just remove and replace them. If you try to patch or add another layer on top of the old one, water can still get in through the cracks and cause leaking. For the inexperienced homeowner, shingle repair and replacement is best done by a professional like Northface Construction.
Maintenance Tips to Prevent Roof Leaks
Keep your roof clear of debris. Just like you would do a spring clean-up in your yard and around the house, the same goes for your roof. Fallen leaves, sticks, and other debris falls on your roof and should be brushed off or soft-washed off. If debris sits there for long periods, it can cause wet spots or standing water, leading to roof leaks and mold growth.
Keep your gutters clear and secure. Gutters need to be installed and sloped correctly to function and keep your roof dry and free of moisture and debris. If your gutters get clogged, not only does that rainwater stay up on your roof, but the weight of your gutters can put pressure on your roof and cause damage to shingles on the edge. Gutter guards can help keep your gutters free of debris and keep water flowing.
Do frequent visual inspections of your roof. You don’t always have to rely on a professional to inspect it. You can also do visual inspections yourself. Take a peek towards your roof to spot any defective or damaged shingles.
Re-seal or Re-caulk when needed. Sealant and caulk can get worn and need replacing over time. If you can manage to replace these things on your own, you can maintain susceptible spots like window sills, chimneys, openings in the attic, and other cracks that can leak near your attic or roof.
Inspect flashing for damage. Flashing around chimneys and ventilation boots are the leading causes of roof leaks. The flashing around them is intended to keep out water and create a seal between the shingles and the edge of that chimney or boot.
Do regular checks of your attic. Just like doing a visual inspection of your roof, you can also take a quick peek into your attic and spot any obvious signs of leaks. You can look for wet spots on the attic floor, light coming through any holes, and any mold or mildew growth.
Proper Roof Leak Protection During Installation
It’s imperative that your contractor who repairs or installs your roof also does the proper sealing and roof leak protection protocols to ensure you don’t have to face a disaster later on. Here’s what Northface Construction does to ensure a tight, waterproof seal on your roof.
Ice and Water Shield
Most contractors will place an ice and water shield and an underlayment beneath any shingles they install. These extra layers help protect your home from leaks if any shingles lose granules or are damaged in a storm.
Extra Step Leak Protection
Since chimneys, vents, and boots are some of the biggest culprits of a roof leak, when installing new shingles on a roof, we install a thick extra step of leak protection around those, making sure leaks cannot easily happen over time.
Installing a Drip Edge
We also install a drip edge along the edge of the roofline. Drip edge protects from water infiltration beyond the shingles. A big hot topic when it comes to drip edge is whether or not it is needed and if you can reuse it.
Whether it’s needed depends on the manufacturer. As a GAF certified contractor, we always install it because GAF requires drip edges as part of their installation procedure. Without it, the shingles would not meet the building code.
When asked if it can be reused or not? We would say absolutely not. As you can see in our video, the condition this old drip edge was in, you would not want to put that back on your home with your new shingles. You cannot use any damaged or corroded flashings. This applies to the metal around the chimney or any other metal flashing component.
Keeping Your Home Free of Leaks
A combination of proper installation, at-home maintenance, and knowing the signs of a leak can all protect you and your home from more severe damage.
At Northface Construction, we take every precaution to ensure your home is safe from leaks. Living in Minnesota, this is especially important due to our rainy spring and summer and snowy, icy winters. Please call us right away if you require a roof inspection, repair, or replacement.