Monday, September 09, 2019

7 things you should do immediately after a roof leak

Damaged roof - Photo by Monsterkoi/Pixabay
At first, a leaky roof is inconvenient. You need to place tarps to block the water, grab pots and pans to catch drips, and move your belongings out of the way of moisture. Afterward, fixing or replacing your roof becomes even more of a headache. The good news is that there are seven things you can do immediately to minimize damage and preserve your home.

Prevent Further Leaks
Your first step when finding a roof leak is to cover the spot where water is coming in. Blocking the water with tarps, plastic sheets, or another watertight material will slow the flow of water. If you know where the leak is, you can also perform a temporary patch job with roofing tar and shingles or plywood. Hopefully, covering the affected area will keep more water from getting in.

Start Drying It Out
Once the water comes in, it can settle and sit all over your house — Inside walls, underneath flooring (including subfloors), and even in appliances. Therefore, you need to begin drying your home out before you can begin to seek potential solutions.

Consider staging fans around your home to dry it from the inside out; open windows when possible or use your oven to warm the air when it’s cold outside. If you have puddles or sopping wet spots, use a wet/dry vacuum to remove moisture.

Find the Cause
Unless a tree fell on your home and created a gaping hole, it might be challenging to find where water is getting in. Common reasons for roof leaks, according to SF Gate, include aging shingles or roofing materials, unsealed vents and piping, and debris. If your roof’s pitch is too shallow, water can also pool on top of the home, seeping in over time instead of running off.

When it’s safe to do so, inspect the surface of your roof for damage. Check the caulking and flashing to ensure no water is getting in between cracks. Look for areas of excess moisture or even small holes to determine where the water is traveling.

Don’t Cover Over Damage
It’s tempting to paint over visible water damage in your ceiling or walls. But by covering up the external spots, you may be locking in internal damage, too. It may look like everything is fine — except for the cosmetic blemishes — but water can cause serious issues within your walls.
Roof leaks can cause a variety of problems, including:

  • Attic and ceiling damage;
  • Mold and mildew growth;
  • Health issues from mold;
  • Fire hazards from electric complications;
  • Slip hazards;
  • Structural issues; and
  • Wasted energy on heating and cooling.

Get Expert Diagnostic Help
Because unseen complications from roof leaks can compromise the structural integrity of your home, it’s essential that you seek expert help. Diagnosing electrical troubles or drywall rot are jobs for professionals, not homeowners. Even walking on the roof could cause a cave-in, pushing your repair costs to incremental heights. Minor roof repairs start at a few hundred dollars, but serious repairs can range into the thousands.

Seek Professionals for Repairs
A DIY patch job might stop water from continuing to ruin your roof. However, a professional repair will last longer and address the problem the right way. Plus, if you need electrical, plumbing, or structural repairs, you risk injury or further harm to your home’s structure if you go the do-it-yourself route. Professional plumbers, electricians, and contractors have licenses, insurance, and the know-how to do each job safely. As a homeowner, you should find someone you trust and leave them to the job.

Consider a Full Roof Replacement
A less-than-perfect roof affects more than your enjoyment of your home. Poor roof quality can impact your home’s selling price if you decide to move. Keeping tabs on your roof’s performance ensures your home will be ready to go once you list it.

If roof issues continue to crop up even after you fix the leak, you may want to look at replacing it completely. You can increase your home’s value with a new roof, per Home Advisor. It could help both your bottom line and your timeline — houses with well-maintained roofs tend to sell for a higher price and get off the market sooner.

A leaky roof isn’t something to ignore. If you notice signs that your roof has issues, then it’s time to do something about it. Whether it’s simple repairs or an entire replacement, addressing the problem sooner rather than later can make all the difference in the world.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our semi-regular Tip of the Week feature. Please check back every Monday for more advice on your home, money, and life.

Also, be sure to follow the author, Frank Nemecek, on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek for more great information.

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