Help! My Roof is Leaking! What Do I Do?

It’s every homeowner’s worst nightmare; coming home to find water leaking from their ceiling. Most homeowners do not know how best to prevent further damage to their home.

leaky roof

Here are some steps that you can take to protect your home from sustaining further damage.

Contain the Leak

If the water is dripping or running from a bulge or a discolored spot in the ceiling, you will want to place a bucket or a trashcan under the site of the leak. It is likely that there is water pooling on the other side of the bulge or discoloration.

If the sound of repetitive dripping is bothering you, you can stand a board up inside the container to diffuse the drips before they hit the water collecting in the bucket.

Drain the Water

Using a screwdriver, puncture the bulge directly in the middle.  This will allow the water to drain smoothly from the site of the leak and will alleviate pressure on the rest of the ceiling.

Standing water will spread out and cause further damage if not allowed to drain out.  Water that has pooled without being drained can actually collapse the ceiling if allowed to gather for many hours.

Cover the Leak

If you know where the leak is coming from and it is safe for you to climb to or reach the area, you can cover the damaged area of the roof with a tarp.  If you cannot reach the area safely, you will need to contact a roofing professional.

Keep in mind that, while many roofing companies will provide emergency tarping services, if the weather is too severe, they may have to wait for a break in the storm to tarp your house.   Once in place, the tarp will serve as temporary protection until the leak can be properly repaired.

Do Not Wait!

It is of utmost importance to act quickly when a roof repair is needed.  A leaky roof, even in the earliest stages, is undermining the stability of the entire home.  It is important to remember that, by the time that a leak is evident, it has likely been going on for some time.

A leaky roof will not improve by ignoring it and it will only progress over time.

The Inspection

A roofing professional will inspect the roof both inside and outside. They will typically need to evaluate the roof via the attic.  The sheeting on the underside of the roof can often show telltale signs of the original leak. On the inside of the house, the roofer will be looking for:

  • dark spots
  • places where light from outside is shining through
  • sagging

On the inside of the house, they will be looking for:

  • clogged or slowly draining gutters
  • loose material and wear around chimneys or vents
  • Missing, warped or rotting shingles

The Repair Process

Typically, if your roof is less than 15 years old, it will be possible to repair it with a spot-repair.  Total replacement is not often required unless a roof is older than this. It is important to remember, however, that a leaky roof is often a symptom of a larger problem.

The roofing expert may rule that a total replacement is necessary to prevent further structural erosion.

How to Prevent Leaks

The best way to prevent a full replacement of your roof is to have regular inspections performed on your roof and to be vigilant for signs of possible moisture accumulation such as stains, bulges or condensation.