Under Water: What to Do When Your Roof Springs a Leak

According to a recent study, roof leaks are the most common cause of slow water damage that occurs over a long period of time because they often go undetected. Water might be leaking from the roof into your attic for days, weeks, or even longer before it actually comes through your ceiling. As soon as you become aware of a leak, however, it’s imperative to address the problem right away. Here’s what you need to know.


Get Everything Out of the Way

Your ultimate goal is to minimize loss. Therefore, you need to get everything valuable away from the leak as quickly as you can. Spring into action and start moving TVs, computers, furniture, and anything else of value away from the water. If you find there is furniture that is too heavy to move on your own, call a neighbor or friend to help as soon as possible. Grab a plastic trash can and place it under the leak to catch the water.


Inspect the Ceiling

If you see that a bubble is forming on your ceiling, then you need to act fast; the bulge means that water is pooling in that particular area. If you allow it to continue to grow, there is a chance that the entire ceiling may come down — and that’s the last thing you want to happen. This problem is more easily handled than you might imagine. You can actually use a screwdriver and poke a hole in the center of the bubble to allow the water to escape. However, be prepared with your trash can to catch as much of the water as you can.


Get Help

Many people don’t want to risk climbing on their roofs, but you do need to try to control the water that is coming into your home. Call a roofing contractor (normally you can find one in your service area that works 24/7) and have them come and temporarily fix the problem. This usually involves going onto the roof and tarping the area where the water is coming in. This is an immediate fix, but it’s not a long-term solution. Therefore, as soon as conceivably possible, you need to have a professional inspection of the damage and get an estimate on repair costs.


Address Water Damage

Once you have the roof tarped, it’s time to give your home a once-over and look for any water damage that needs to be addressed. When it comes to carpeting, blotting up the water might not be enough. Pull up the carpeting and air dry both sides. You may need to replace the padding, if it got extremely wet, or even replace the entire carpet altogether. The last thing you want is for mold to start growing in your floors. Also, check walls, furniture, and other items for water damage. Call your insurance company to find out if your homeowners policy will cover the damage from the leak. Unless a single event caused the problem (such as a tree falling on your house), the insurance carrier may deny your claim. However, you never know until you file.


Weigh Your Options

Get a couple of quotes from licensed roofing professionals as to what the problem is, how much it’s going to cost to fix it, and how long the repairs are going to take. If you are going to possibly sell your home in the relatively near future, you might consider a full replacement rather than patchwork repairs. This is especially true if your roof is already decades old or has had multiple repairs in the same area. Research shows that homes that have new roofs sell faster and for more money than those with older or damaged roofs.

When it comes to problems with your roof, never ignore leaks. If you see a few drops of water in a corner of a room, don’t expect the issue to just go away. Get a roof inspector out to check out the problem as soon as possible. Little leaks are often easy and affordable to locate and fix. However, major water damage can be extremely costly and always a huge inconvenience.


Written by Julian Lane, julian@thefixitchamp.com