12 Roof Repair Tips: Find and Fix a Leaking Roof

Leaky Roof Overview
A leaky roof is likely to be the cause of water stains on ceilings and walls. The hard part is finding the leak; the repair of roof leaks is usually fairly easy. Here are some easy tricks to repair and find leaks on most common roofs. If you live in the Snow Belt, and you only have leaks on sunny or warm days in winter, then you may have ice dams. This story won’t cover roof leak roof repairs in dunedin. This article has more information on how to prevent ice dams. Even if you don’t care about it or your roof is getting replaced next year, you should fix a leaky roofing system immediately. Small leaks, even if they are not noticed for a long time, can cause big problems. These include mold, rotted framing, sheathing and insulation, and damaged ceilings. Ceiling stains revealed the flashing leak which led to an expensive repair bill for more than two years. The damage and subsequent repair costs would have been minimal if the homeowner had addressed the leak immediately.

Roof Leaks: How to Find Them
Start by looking uphill at the roof. Look for any roof penetrations. Leaks are most often caused by items that penetrate the roof. Even on older roofs, leaks are rare in areas with uninterrupted shingles. The roof can be penetrated by vents and plumbing, chimneys, or dormers. The leak can be several feet away or on the left or right. The easiest way to find a leak in your attic is to use a flashlight to search for evidence. You will see water stains, mold or black marks. If access is an issue or if you have a vaulted roof, you will have to climb up on the roof to examine the suspect.

Find difficult leaks with this trick
If you can’t find the leak, ask a friend to help and climb up onto the roof. Use a garden hose. Start low and soak the area directly above the spot where the leak is visible in the home. When you run the hose, isolate areas. You can soak the bottom of the chimney first and then both sides. Your helper should stay in the house and wait for the drip. Allow the hose to run in one place for several minutes before moving it a little higher on the roof. Tell your assistant to shout when the drip is visible. The leak will be nearby. Be patient. This can take a long time. Buy your helper dinner. Don’t be afraid if running water does not reveal the exact leak location. Remove shingles from the suspected area. Once the shingles are removed, you will have evidence of the leak. You can then track the source. A leaky roof will show discolored felt or wood that is stained or rotted.

A solution for a small leak
Some roof leaks can be difficult to find. Water can appear in a spot on the ceiling far from the source of the leak. Look for flow stains if your ceiling has a plastic barrier between the attic insulation and drywall. Water can often run into the openings of the vapor barriers, like at ceiling light fixtures.

Look for “shiners” on the underside of your roof if you don’t see any flow marks and the stain appears to be small. Shiners are nails that were not nailed to the framing members, as in this case the carpenter missed nailing the roof sheathing onto the rafters. The moisture that escapes from the rooms below and condenses onto the nails can be seen in the attic. You can sometimes see this when you climb into your attic during a cold evening. They will appear white as they are frosted. The frost will melt and drip when the attic gets warm during the day. At night, it will frost again. To fix this, simply cut the nail using a side-cutting pair of pliers.

Repair Plumbing Vent Boots
The base of the vent boot can be made from plastic or metal. Metal bases and plastic bases should be checked for cracked seams. Examine the rubber boot that surrounds the pipe. This can be torn or rotted, allowing the water to enter the house through the pipe. If you have any of these issues, it is best to buy a replacement vent boot. If the boots are in good condition and the nails have been pulled out or the base is missing, you can replace the screws with rubber-washered screws that are used on metal roofing systems. They can be found at any home center along with the other screws. It’s necessary to remove shingles on both sides. When removing shingles to reuse, be cautious if you do not have any extras. Separate the sealant layers using a flat bar. You can then drive the flat bar underneath the nail heads and pop them out.

How to Repair Roof Vents
Look for broken seams or cracked housings in metal roof vents. Caulk is a temporary solution. The only way to fix the problem is by replacing damaged vents. Look for missing or pulled nails along the bottom edge of the base. Replace them with rubber washer screws. You can usually remove the nails from under the shingles to free the vent. You will also find nails on the top of your vent. You can usually remove them without having to remove the shingles. Screw the bottom with rubber-washered screw. To hold the shingles in place and add a barrier to water, squeeze out a small amount of caulk under the shingles. This is much easier than having to re-nail the shingles.

Repair Walls and Dormers
The water doesn’t always enter the roof at the shingled level. Wind-driven rain can enter the roof from above, particularly around windows, in between corner boards and siding and through knotholes or cracks in siding. Dormer walls have many places where water can drip down and enter the roof. Caulk may be cracked, old or missing between corner boards and window edges. These cracks allow water to penetrate the house and behind the flashing. Even caulk which appears intact might not seal against adjacent surfaces. Use a putty blade to check if the seal is intact. Replace any caulk that is suspect with high-quality caulk. Check the siding over the step flashing. If the siding is cracked, rotted, or missing, replace it. Make sure that the new piece overlaps by at least two inches the step flashing. Pull the corner boards and look at the flashing that overlaps the corner. There’s often old, hardened sealant where the two pieces of the corner overlap.

Roof Problems
Poor flashing is the reason why this roof leaks when it snows and during summer storms. Waterproofing the soffit where the roof meets the soffit is one of most difficult areas. You can still see the signs of an Ice Dam in this photo. When snow melts, the water then freezes as it hits the colder edge of your roof. Water pools behind the dam, and eventually it works its way up through the roof and back under the shingles. Flashing is the first step to a solution. It will stop rainwater leaks and possibly ice dam leaks. Start by removing all the shingles to the wood sheathing. Then, slip an adhesive ice and water barrier strip (available at roofing repair stores) under the main roof/soffit joint. You may need to cut a hole depending on the way your roofs are joined. The ice and water barrier should be laid down below the roof edge. The most prone areas to leakage should be covered. Reshingle the roof, sliding the metal step flashing (the trim behind gutter) behind the fascia board. The valley flashing should be laid over the joint between the two roofs and overlapped by at least 2 inches. Install roof edge heating cable if leaks are still occurring due to ice dams. You can find them at local hardware stores and home centers. The best way to prevent ice-dams is by improving attic ventilation and insulation. However, these methods may not work in this complex situation.

Fix Step Flashing
Along walls that cross the roof, step flashing is installed. Each small section of flashing channels the water downhill over the shingle. If the flashing rusts or a section comes loose, the water will flow behind it and into your house. It is necessary to replace rusted flashing. This means you will need to remove the shingles and siding, then pry it loose and replace the step flashing. That’s it. But sometimes a roofer will forget to nail it in place, and the flashing eventually slides down to reveal the wall. You can learn more about how to install your own step flashing in this article.

Caulk is not a reliable option!
Roof cement or caulk will not cure a leaky roofing problem for long. If possible, you should try to fix a leaky roof “mechanically”. This means that you should replace or repair existing flashing rather than using sealants as a leakstopper. Use caulk only for small holes or when flashing cannot be used as a leak-stopper.

Repair Small Holes
Small holes in shingles can be sneaky, as they can cause damage to your roof for many years before you even notice any obvious signs. It’s possible to find holes from satellite dishes, antenna mounting brackets, or anything else. The holes should be patched and exposed roofing repair nails removed. The fix for small holes is not to inject caulk into the hole. Flashing will fix the roof leak problem.

Brick Chimney Leaks
Brick chimneys can cause all sorts of problems. There are too many dangers to mention in this article. If the flashing is galvanized, it can rust at the 90 degree bend at the bottom. It’s easy to replace the old, rusted flashing with new ones. This is a quick fix that will last for a long time. So, any water that leaks will be diverted. It is best to install new flashing and cut a sawkerf in the mortar. Learn how to properly install chimney flashing.