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A leaky roof is every homeowner’s worst nightmare. It can not only damage expensive decor and electronic items but can be harmful to your health too. Needless to say, roof leak detection must be an integral part of a house’s maintenance.  

Such kind of leakage can dampen the air, let in the cold, and lead to mold as well as mildew. A leaking roof in a wooden house might even cause structural damage or ruin your insulation. 

To put it simply, and strongly, a timely roof leak detection is a must for the safety, longevity, and security of your house. You don’t want to be too late in detecting the leak and then fixing the problem. A damaged roof will cost you hundreds of dollars in repair or roof replacement. Something, no homeowner wants. 

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According to roofing expert Kershan Bulsara, the manager of Roofmaster, a successful company that has been inspecting and repairing roofs for almost 40 years, roof leak detection is of paramount importance. 

He says, “You can typically tell if you have a roof leak if you notice water spots or drippings from the ceiling. If roof leaks are left untreated, it can cause a significant amount of further damage to your home. For instance, it could lead to mold or rot the wooden beams and weaken the structure, which are quite costly repairs to make. 

If you’re wondering what caused the roof leak, it’s probably due to the rain getting in due to a poor job completed by a previous contractor or your gutters could be blocked up with debris causing improper drainage. However, whatever the cause, it’s a good idea to take action on the matter as soon as possible.” 

Want to have all your facts right about your roof inspection process? From reasons to cost, take a look at our guide.

What are the obvious signs of a leaky roof?

leaking roofRoof/Flat/Celling Leak by Mark Moz on flickr [CC BY 2.0]

  • Water pooling on the floor.
  • Water running down the walls.
  • Damp spots or water stains in the ceiling.
  • Missing or damaged roof shingles.
  • Appearance of mold and mildew, especially in the attic. 

How is roof leak detection possible?

There are two ways of finding the source of your roof leak. One, you can douse your roof in water with a garden hose while someone in the house, just below the area, keeps an eye out for the exact spot from where the water comes out. 

The other way is to lift off parts of your shingled roof and check for mold or cracks. 

Having said that, tracking down the exact location of the leak is a challenging and daunting task. The reason is, water may enter the roof from one place but run down to another before it starts soaking the ceiling. 

Detecting a roof leak requires a keen eye. It’s best to hire a licensed roofing contractor who has extensive experience in roof leak detection. 

What should you do if your roof springs a leak?

According to Bulsara, “The first thing you’re going to want to do if your roof springs a leak, is to control the water damage. Make sure that anything that can get wet (electronics, furniture, etc.) is covered or put somewhere safe. 

Next, find something to catch the water in. If you can’t stop the water from coming in, make sure it’s at least contained. After that, you should call an expert to take care of the rest.”

How to fix your roof?

roof repairPhoto by Andrew Fresh on flickr [CC BY 2.0]

You’ll be lucky if you just have a vent leak, perhaps because of a cracked plastic vent or damaged rubber boot. It’s the most common and easiest issue to deal with. Just replace the damaged part and also check for missing nails. In case you have a metal roofing system, replace them with rubber-washered screws. 

You need to be careful while removing the shingles or replacing any loose caulking. Use a siliconized latex caulking for a stronger seal. 

If you have to replace the damaged or missing siding, make sure it overlaps the step flashing by a minimum of two inches. Finally, in case you have a persistent leakage, remove the corner boards and replace the caulk where there’s an overlap in the flashing.

FYI: Flashing is used in complicated roof repairs, as well as in areas where the roof meets a wall vertically. Make sure that you install flashing properly. Otherwise, water may run under connecting shingles in case you have an ice dam.

As mentioned above, the best solution is to hire a professional. In fact, you must have a regular roof inspection by qualified contractors to detect any signs of leakage. 

They have specialized tools to find and repair hard-to-locate roof leaks. For instance, infrared technology reveals potential leak sources and trapped moisture within roof assemblies.

Most reputed roofing firms also provide a warranty for their work. You needn’t worry about the initial cost, a good roofing expert could potentially save you a lot of dollars in the long run. Plus, save you the hassle. 

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How long does it take to fix a leaking roof?

Bulsara believes that there’s no exact answer to this question. “The length it takes to fix a leaking roof really depends on the situation itself. If the leak is caused by either a burst pipe or is simply a small leak, it probably takes 24 hours or so. However, if there’s a lot of water making its way in the house, it can take a few days to get the job done.”

How can we prevent roof leaks in the future?

Prevention is always better than cure, or, should we say, cheaper? Once you successfully get your roof repaired, chances are, the issue might crop up again — maybe at another location. So, if you want to ensure that your roof doesn’t leak any time soon, follow Bulsara’s advice.

In his words, “To avoid a roof leak, make sure to check and clean your gutters and downspouts. Throughout the year, a lot of debris and dirt can accumulate in your gutters, which will prevent them from doing their job properly. The clogging could prevent proper drainage, and could create further damages to your home and its structure.

To avoid all of this and saving yourself from a massive headache, take one day to remove any big debris from your roof’s gutters and pressure wash the dirt away so that it can properly discharge of any runoff. This way, you’ll also be sure to save a lot of money as well.”

Last words

A leaky roof can make even the best of properties undesirable, and unsellable. You need to find the source of your roof leak as soon as possible. Only then can you start your repair work. Therefore, timely roof leak detection is crucial. 

You don’t want your house to be structurally damaged over time. Neither do you want discoloring or moldy ceilings and walls, do you? Roofing experts strongly believe that we MUST NOT let a tiny leak become a huge problem!

Roof Leak Detection: Complete Lowdown by an Expert was last modified: October 1st, 2019 by Ramona Sinha
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