The roof is quite literally at the top of any homeowner’s maintenance list! Your roof is subject to plenty of wear and tear over the years. If you have a leaking roof, you need to fix it immediately. Even if the leak is in a spot that doesn’t bother you or if you’re getting a new roof next year. Over a short period of time, small leaks can lead to big problems, such as mold, rotted framing and sheathing, destroyed insulation and damaged ceilings.
The source of most roof leaks is difficult to find because the leak typically starts away from where the spot where the water intrusion shows up. Water most often comes in through worn, broken, or missing shingles; where nails have worked loose; or through damaged or poorly sealed roof flashing around vents, skylights, or chimneys or along the intersections of roof planes.
Here are some tips for finding and repairing some of the common types of roof leaks:
- Find the Source of the Leak. The first thing to look for is any roof penetrations. Penetrations can include plumbing and roof vents, chimneys, dormers or anything else that projects through the roof. They can be several feet away from the leak so be sure to look above the leak or to either side of it. If you have attic access, start by going up there with a flashlight and look for evidence such as water stains, black marks or mold. If not don’t have access to the attic, you’ll have to go up onto the roof (safely) and examine the area.
- Fix Plumbing Vent Boots. Plumbing vent boots can be all plastic, plastic and metal, or even two-piece metal units. Check plastic bases for cracks and metal bases for broken seams. Examine the rubber boot surrounding the pipe to check for rotting or tears. With any of these problems, you should buy a new vent boot to replace the old one. But if the nails at the base are missing or pulled free and the boot is in good shape, replace them with screws with rubber washers. You’ll find them at most home improvement centers with the rest of the screws. Remove neighboring shingles on both sides. Be extra careful when you remove shingles so they can be reused when you put everything back together. If they are damaged during this process, simply purchase one bundle of shingles and replace them. Seal down every shingle with small dabs of asphalt sealant and fill every nail hole with a small dab of sealant as well.
- Fix Roof Vents. Check for cracked housings on plastic roof vents and broken seams on metal ones. The best solution is replacing the damaged vents. Simply caulking the problem area will not be a long- term solution. Also, look for pulled or missing nails at the base’s bottom edge and replace them with screws with rubber washers. In most cases, you can remove nails under the shingles on both sides of the vent to pull it free. There will be nails across the top of the vent too. Usually you can also work those loose without removing shingles. If not, remove and replace those shingles. And once again, screw the bottom in place with screws with rubber washers. Squeeze out a bead of asphalt sealant beneath the shingles on both sides of the vent to hold the shingles down and to add a water barrier. And again, seal down each shingle with small dabs of asphalt sealant and fill nail holes as well.
- Fix Walls and Dormers. Wind-driven rain comes in from above the roof, especially around windows, between corner boards and siding, and through cracks and knotholes in siding. Dormer walls provide lots of opportunities where water can dribble down and enter the roof. Caulk might be old, cracked or even missing between the corner boards and between window edges and siding. Water penetrates these cracks and works its way behind the flashing and into the house. Dig out old caulk and replace it with a high-quality silicone sealant. Also check the siding above the step flashing. Replace any cracked, rotted or missing siding, making sure the new piece overlaps the step flashing by at least 2 inches. If you still have a leak, pull the corner siding boards free and check the overlapping flashing at the corner. Add flashing as needed and re-install the siding.
- Fix Step Flashing. Step flashing is used along walls that intersect the roof. Each short section of flashing channels water over the shingle downhill from it. But if the flashing rusts through, or a piece comes loose, water will run right behind it and inside the house. Rusted flashing needs to be replaced. That means removing shingles, prying siding loose, and then removing and replacing the step flashing. Make sure to keep the location of flashing in a consistent overlapping manner so that water is deflected correctly onto the shingle below it.
- Use Sealant with Caution! Sealant isn’t the best solution for fixing a leaking roof —at least not on its own and for a long term. You should always attempt to fix the problem area instead of using a sealant as a leak stopper. Only use sealant as a supplement to more detailed repair work, for very tiny “pin-sized” holes, to hold newly installed shingles flat, as a very temporary repair and when flashing isn’t an option as a leak stopper.
If you have a roof leak, you need to fix it without delay. Over a short period of time, small leaks can lead to big problems. Triangle’s Trusted Roofing in Raleigh is available to repair or replace your roof. When you hire us, you’ll know exactly how much your roofing repair or replacement project is going to cost and the exact scope of work. We don’t sacrifice quality, we will give you a strong and secure roof to safeguard your home. For a free leak assessment or roof replacement quote, contact us TODAY!