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What to Do If Your Roof Is Leaking

Roof leaks are a big problem regardless of the weather. However, if your roof starts to leak during the rainy season or a storm, the leak can quickly turn into an emergency. To prevent such a dilemma from happening, you need to repair your roof.

To repair your leaking roof, find the damage, and repair the leaks using any of these:

  • Roofing tarp
  • Roofing cement
  • Silicone or rubber caulk

These methods are a quick fix. You still need to perform permanent fixing methods to prevent the leak from recurring.

However, the challenging part about fixing roof leaks is finding the source of leaks themselves. Fortunately, there are a few steps that can help you make this task easier.

Fixing Methods for Leaking Roofs

Leaking roofs are no joke. Unfortunately, they are pretty challenging to deal with; and can be a real headache. Not only that, but they can also be detrimental to the overall structure of your house.

Roof leaks can result in mold growth inside your home. If you could not deal with it properly, this mold buildup could potentially cause health problems. That said, you need to fix your roof as soon as you notice any signs of leakage.

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There are some quick roof fixing methods that you can do if you need to perform an emergency roof leak repair. Such applies when the weather is bad or when there is a rainstorm coming. Additionally, these methods are effective for people who are on a tight budget but need roof repair.

  1. Use a roofing tarp to cover the leaking part of your roof

Using a roofing tarp is the quickest and easiest temporary solution for leaking roofs. First, locate the damaged area where the water is entering and cover it with a heavy-duty tarp.

Most roofing tarps that you can purchase are cloth polyester with polyurethane coating. They also have grommets, making them easy to tie down and secure.

The trap will protect the leaking area of your roof. It will also keep the moisture out, preventing any mold growth.

However, you must drape the top part of the roofing tarp over your roof’s point. This way, you can make sure that no water will run under the tarp.

After placing the tarp on the damaged area, secure its edges down using nails. This process will keep the tarp from moving when the wind blows on it.

Moreover, this quick repair will only require minutes to complete. For this reason, make sure that you always have a heavy-duty roofing tarp, as it comes in handy during emergencies. (2)

  1. Apply roof cement on the leaking area

Roof cement is a multi-purpose adhesive and patching material specifically for repairing holes in roofs. You can also use it to fix corroding joints and spots in leaky metal trims and gutters. Additionally, this material stops leaks in metal flashing around valleys, chimneys, and coping.

You can also use roof cement to fill cracks in concretes near your walls. It can even serve as an adhesive for gluing down loose asphalt shingles.

Moreover, roof cement consists of a mixture of asphalt, plasticizers, refined mineral spirits, and non-asbestos reinforcing fibers.

To apply roof cement on leaking roofs, the first thing you need to do is to clean every dirt, dust, and debris on the affected area. Do this process during dry weather if possible. But if you need to work on damp and rainy conditions, use roof cement formulas that adhere well to wet surfaces.

Use a putty knife to fill the roof holes and cracks with the material. Make sure that you are filling the damages thoroughly. If you are using cement formulas for wet surfaces, spread them rigorously around the repair area.

The surface coat should be no more than 1/8 inch thick. If you think you need to add additional coats, wait for at least 12 hours before the second application.

When working with large holes or cracks, you first need to fill them with rolled roofing or fiberglass fabric. Next, coat the patch generously with roof cement. Put pressure on the patch into the damaged part of the roof. (3)

  1. Use silicone caulk

You can purchase silicone roof sealant in tubes. You will also need a caulk gun to apply on roof leaks.

Silicone caulk is a cost-effective repair solution that you can finish in minutes. While it is not the most permanent fix, it can last for years and extend your roof’s structural integrity.

However, it is vital to note that silicone roof sealant will only work well with small leaks. For instance, you can apply it to holes caused by loose nails.

If you have cracks, holes, or bent shingles on your roof, silicone caulk is the best method to repair it.

You will only need a small drop of silicone caulk to repair the leak. First, use the caulk gun to apply the sealant under the bent part of the shingle. Next, bend back the damaged area to its proper placement.

It is also essential that you put weight or pressure on the shingle until the silicone caulk is dry. You can also repair a bent flashing using this method.

  1. Coat the damaged area with a liquid rubber sealant

There are indeed several roof leak repair products in the market. However, choosing which one can be difficult. But if you are looking for a quick way to repair small roof leaks, using rubber sealant is ideal.  

Just like silicone roof sealant, liquid rubber sealant is not a permanent fix. Still, it can serve as a helpful solution for an emergency. What is even better is that you can apply it to both dry and rainy weather conditions.

If you are fixing small holes, the ideal thing to do is apply it directly to the area where the leak is originating. However, you may need a combination of the repair methods mentioned above if you fix large holes.

For instance, you can use a roof tarp and apply rubber sealant on the edges. This way, the roof tarp will become airtight.

However, the liquid rubber sealant will change the color of any material that you spray it on. It could leave large stained spots on your roof. For this reason, do not spray it over areas that you have no plans of replacing.

How to Find Leaks on Your Roof

Roof damage is quite tricky to locate. Such is especially true for small holes. Fortunately, there are some steps that you can follow to find these leaks.

If you see water stain extending across your ceilings or running down your walls, then the cause of it is probably leakage on your roof. Unfortunately, while roof repair is pretty easy, tracking down the leaky area is a difficult task.

Moreover, you need to find and repair leaks as soon as you notice any sign of its presence. The reason is that it can lead to significant issues, such as rotted sheathing and framing, mold growth, damaged ceilings, and destroyed insulation.

When you try to look for roof leaks, begin by looking at the roof above the ceiling stains. The primary thing that you should also look for is roof penetrations. Materials that penetrate your roofs, such as nails and screws, are the most common roof leak sources.

It is almost impossible for leaks to develop in open areas such as uninterrupted shingles. Penetrations on the roof can also include chimneys, roof vents, plumbing, and dormers. They can sit several feet away from the leak or even right beside it.

If you can access your attic, the quickest and easiest way to track the leak is to climb up there with a flashlight. First, look for water stains, mold, or black marks. Next, track down the path of these stains, and you will probably see the leak right on the end of it.

However, if you cannot access your ceiling or a vaulted one, you will need to climb up your roof and examine where the water leak is originating.

What to Do to Find Difficult Leaks

If the leak is difficult to find, you can ask for help from someone you live with or even a friend. Go up the roof and bring a garden hose with you. Begin with a low water run and soak the area above where the leak appears in your house.

In addition, isolate the areas when you run the hose. For instance, if you soaked the downhill side of the chimney, soak each side next and then the top of both sides last. Ensure that your helper is inside the house waiting if the water drips on the area you soaked.

Allow the water to run for a few minutes in one area before moving to the next part.

Moreover, this process will take you a little over an hour. Therefore, please do not move the hose too soon as the leak might be too small, making it difficult for the water to pass through. Therefore, you need much patience during this process.

Do not be timid if you ran water on your suspected area and no leak showed up. Instead, remove the shingles on that area and check again if there is any evidence of a leak. Discoloration, water stain, and rot on the wood prove leakage has indeed occurred.

Long Term Solution for Leaking Roof

People are well aware that sealants and roof tarps are only a temporary solution for leaking roofs. If you want to make sure that the leak will not come back, you need to work on a long-term, even permanent, solution to the damage.

Below are some of the methods that you can perform to fix roof leaks permanently:

Fix Plumbing Vent Boots

The materials used for plumbing vent boots can be plastic, plastic, metal, or two-piece metal units. First, check if there is any crack on the vent’s plastic bases. If it has metal material, examine to see if there is any broken seam.

Next, check the pipe’s rubber boot surrounding. That can acquire tears and rot over time, allowing water to work its way into your house. If you see any of these problems, the best thing is to purchase a new vent boot and replace the old one.

If the vent boot is in good shape, you should also check any missing or loose nails. Replace these missing and pulled-free nails with rubber-washer screws used explicitly for metal roofing systems.

Remember that you will need to remove the neighboring shingles before fixing the vent boot temporarily. So, first, use a flat bar so you can separate the sealant between each layer. After that, you will be able to push the flat bar under the nail heads, allowing you to pop the nails out.

Be careful on removing these shingles so you can reuse them after working on the vent boot.

Repair Dormers and Walls

Sometimes, the leaks that get into your house do not come from the shingled surface. They can also work their way on roof windows, cracks and knotholes in siding, and corner boards.

Dormer walls also have a lot of spots where water can pass through and enter your roof. Such is especially true when the water comes from wind-driven rain. The reason for such leaks is that the caulk between the corner boards, window edges, and siding, can be cracked, missing, or even too old.

Water will be able to penetrate the cracks and get through the flashing, and enter the roof. Even the caulk that still looks intact may not be doing its job of sealing against the adjoining surfaces.

That said, use a putty knife and dig the sealant to see if it is protecting the area. Additionally, check any suspect caulk and immediately replace it with a better one if you notice any signs of damage.

Check the siding located above the step flashing. Replace the rotted, cracked, and missing siding with a high-quality one. Ensure that your replacements will overlap the step flashing by no less than two inches.

If the leak continues, work on the corner boards next. Pull the boards free and examine if there are flashings that overlap at the corner. Most of the time, there is hardened caulk that causes the two pieces to overlap at the side corner.

Fix the Step Flashing

The walls that intersect the roof have step flashing on them. Each of the flashing’s short sections prevents water from getting into your home. However, if the flashing rusts or becomes loose, water will be able to run behind it and enter your house.

That said, you need to replace the rusted flashing. To do this process, you need to remove the shingles, pry the siding loose, and remove the damaged flashing. Next, replace the old flashing with a new one.

It is crucial to ensure that you nailed one side of the step flashing in place. If you forgot this step, the flashing will eventually slip down and will expose the wall. In an instance that it happens, water will be able to work its way into your house.

Never Rely Solely on Caulk.

As mentioned, silicone caulk and roof cement is only a temporary solution to fix leaking roofs. For this reason, you should always attempt to perform a mechanical fix on leaky roofs when possible. Meaning you have to either repair or replace the damaged area rather than applying rubber sealant, silicone caulk, or roof cement as a leak stopper.

You can only use caulk if the holes that you need to fix are tiny.

Moreover, tiny holes in shingles can cause a significant problem. The reason is that they can result from rotting and other damage for years before you can even notice the signs of their existence. What is even worse is that nails, screws can cause these holes, and even your antenna mounting brackets and satellite dish.

For that reason, you should check your roofing nails to see if there are exposed or incorrectly placed repair nails. They can serve as a passageway for water. So, you need to pull them and patch the holes.

True enough, small holes are easy to fix. However, injecting caulk in the spot is not enough. Instead, it would help if you fixed these leaks with flashing.

Check and Repair Leaks Around Bricks and Chimneys.

The flashing around your chimney can rust through over time. The 90-degree bend at the bottom is the primary thing you need to check. If there is any corrosion, replace the flashing with a new one.

This process will prevent water from seeping through and entering your house by diverting where the water will run.

Alternatively, you can cut a saw kerf into the mortar and install your new flashing.