It’s Sunday afternoon and you’ve had a busy day already of preparing for the week ahead and running errands. Unsurprisingly, it starts raining just as you’re getting home. Then, the clouds really unleash and it starts downpouring. And suddenly, you hear a sound dreaded by all homeowners: a drip drip drip coming not from the leaky faucet in your kitchen but… from your living room.
This might sound like a scary story to many homeowners out there, and for good reason — roof leaks can cause serious damage to your home if not addressed quickly. But handling an unexpected roof leak is really all about preparation, mitigation, and prevention.
In today’s blog post, we’ll review some of the signs you may have a leaky roof, and what to do if your roof is leaking.
The dangers of roof leaks
Water damage isn’t the only risk you run when you spring a roof leak. A leak in the roof can cause severe structural integrity issues to your home, and even fire hazards. Let’s take a look.
Two of the largest and most commonly affected areas when it comes to a roof leak are the attic and your home’s ceilings, but moisture can also damage your home’s wall framing, rafters, ceiling joints, ceiling lights and fans, and more. Moisture can cause wood to deteriorate and begin to rot, weakening it and the structure it supports.
Moisture also tends to have a darkening effect on wall paint and can cause the plaster on your wall to chip or to bubble up.
Mold and mildew growth
Signs of mold or mildew growth might not show up right away after you find a leak, but if moisture has seeped into your home and doesn’t dry out properly, it can invite mold or mildew to spread everywhere — even onto your furniture and clothes!
Not only can mold and mildew damage the home and cause costly repair, but exposure to mold and mildew can lead to health issues down the road. Those with asthma, allergies, or other health problems are especially at risk.
If you have electrical wiring in your attic or ceiling, you should consider this a fire hazard when your roof leaks. When you’re dealing with electrical wiring and a roof leak, it’s best to call an electrician to come take a look, and turn off electricity in the affected area until then.
Signs your roof is leaking
There can be many or almost no signs your roof is leaking until the problem has really advanced, so staying on top of your regular twice-annual roof inspections, and keeping an eye on your roof for signs of damage are both keys to prevention.
Symptoms of moisture seeping into your house are the biggest signs you have a leak in your roof. If you notice any of the following signs of a roof leak, it’s time to investigate further and call your roof repair contractor right away.
- A water stain on the ceiling
- Mold or mildew on your ceiling, walls, or in your attic
- Damaged roof flashing
- Roof flashing is a transitional material, typically made of rust-resistant metal, that helps protect your roof from damage and leaks at its weakest spots. You’ll typically see it between your roof’s shingles and your chimney, on the corners of your roof, and at roof valleys.
- Lost or warped shingles
- Wet roof decking
- Roof decking is the plywood or wooden sheets that goes between the roof’s framing and shingles. You can see the decking from your attic, and if it’s wet, it’s a sign that rain or snow is coming through. If this is the case, it needs to be repaired.
What to do if your roof is leaking
Step 1: Contain the leak
First things first, you’ll want to grab something you can use to catch the leak. If you’re dealing with drips coming from the ceiling, a bucket should suffice. If the volume of water is greater than a drip (more like a stream), you can still place a bucket below, but it’s also best to put some plastic sheeting or a tarp on the floor below and move any furniture out of the way. If you can’t move something out of the way, make sure it’s covered to avoid water damage.
Pro tip: To avoid the annoying sound of water dripping into a bucket, place a piece of wood or an old pillowcase inside the bucket under where the water is dripping. This will dampen the dripping sound.
Step 2: Remove any hazards from the area
If water is dripping nearby any electronics or anything plugged in, this can be a huge hazard for an electrical fire. Make sure to unplug it and move it away from the water. This is true for any electronics in your attic, too.
Step 3: Drain the leak
Nobody wants to punch a hole in their ceiling, but in this case, it is a greater help than harm. Did you know that the weight of too much water can cause your ceiling to buckle and even collapse? Poking a hole relieves the water weight by allowing more water to drain, helping to avoid further structural and moisture damage.
First, grab a sturdy ladder or chair and a screwdriver. Then, get up on the ladder under the leak and use your screwdriver to pierce the water damaged patch on your ceiling. This might be a pain to patch later, but it is a drop in the bucket (get it?) compared to the challenge of repairing a collapsed ceiling.
Step 4: Call a professional
As soon as you’ve contained your leak and taken steps to mitigate the damage, your next move should be to call a professional. A professional will be able to efficiently determine the source of the leak, recommend the best fix, and then fix the roof.
Step 5: Search for the source
If your roof repair professional isn’t able to get to you right away, you can take some time to try to locate the source of the leak yourself.
One easy thing you can do is to head up to your attic. Once there, turn off any lights and then look around for any holes of light shining through your roof. This is likely your source.
Another thing you can do is have someone use a hose to shower your roof with water section by section, while you, up in the attic, look out for dripping water.
Step 6: Take pictures and call your insurance agent
If you are planning to make an insurance claim for your roof leak, you’ll want to take pictures soon after you discover the leak, to capture the full extent of the damage before you get things repaired and dried out. Roof leaks aren’t always covered under insurance plans, so calling your agent to let them know of the situation is the fastest way to determine whether or not you will be able to make a claim.
Roof repair with All Around Maintenance
We know a leaky roof can be one of the most stressful experiences a homeowner can go through. When you call us about a roof leak, our team of licensed and insured professionals will do everything they can to get to you ASAP. They’ll thoroughly inspect your roof, and then sit down with you for a consultation with their recommended plan before moving forward with the repair.