How to Fix a Leaking Roof

No one wants to find out that their roof is leaking, and it’s even worse when they don’t know where the leak is coming from. Don’t wait until the next time it rains to figure it out. Our New Jersey roofing contractor is giving tips on how to find roof leaks and what to do next.

Signs of a Leaking Roof

If you’re not sure if water is coming from your roof or somewhere else, look for these signs:

  • Stains on the ceiling or wall that are yellow, gray, or brown;
  • Mold spots smell of musty or mildew;
  • Sagging ceilings;
  • Walls that are bulging inside;
  • Water damage to the siding, windows, or doors;
  • Shingles that are missing or are cracked, buckled, or curled.

Getting Rid of the Idea of a Leak

Don’t call a roofing company right away if you see water damage or drips of water. First, make sure it’s not caused by something inside. Check around your water heater, HVAC unit, and plumbing to see if the leak is coming from there.

How to Spot a Roof Leak

Once you’ve figured out that your roof is leaking, it’s time to find where it is. Most of the time, the damaged area is not directly above where the water is getting in. This is because the water often soaks through insulation, runs along pipes or rafters, and drips out somewhere else. So, instead of guessing where the roof leak is, it’s better to try to find it. This can make roof repair faster, easier, and more effective.

Look Into Your Attic

The first thing to do is to get a bright flashlight and go to the attic. If you don’t have flooring, step from joist to joist, being careful not to step between them because you could damage the ceiling of the room below you.

Use your flashlight to look along the floor and ceiling of the attic for signs of water damage, like mold growth, water stains, warping, or even rot on the rafters or roof sheathing. Make sure to look carefully for any holes in the roof, such as a branch that has fallen. If you don’t see any obvious signs, check around chimneys, roof vents, and where the attic meets the exterior walls. That’s where roof leaks are most likely to start.

If you see wet insulation, the water may have soaked and run through the material. Make sure you’re wearing the right safety gear, like goggles and gloves. Remove the wet insulation and follow any water damage to the source of the leak.

Check on the Actual Roof

If you can’t see where the roof leak is coming from from the attic, or if you don’t have an attic, you’ll need to go up on the roof. Pay close attention to the area around vents, chimneys, and where the roof meets an outside wall. This is where most roof leaks happen because the flashing has failed, the plumbing vent boots are worn out, or the sealant has worn or cracked. These leave gaps that let small leaks happen and let moisture into the home.

If it’s not the flashing or sealant, the roof leak could be caused by damaged shingles. You’ll need to walk along the whole roof, looking for problems like:

  • Cracked, curling, or buckling shingles
  • missing or exposed nails
  • places where shingles are loose or missing
  • Roof valleys where debris gathers or shady spots where moss may have grown. This keeps moisture on the roof instead of letting it run off, which leads to leaks.

Areas where the gutters are leaking, cracked, or loose, letting water back up under the eaves.

Grab a Garden Hose

Still no luck? Get a friend and a garden hose and start making it rain! Have your friend or helper stay inside the house close to where you saw the roof leak or where there are water stains. While they’re inside, go up and start soaking the roof, working in small sections, and spending several minutes in each area to give the water time to get in.

If your helper can see where water is dripping or has a general idea but isn’t sure exactly where the water is coming from, you can pull up a few shingles to look for rotting wood or water stains as a clear sign of where a roof repair is needed.

DIY Roof Leak Fix

Once you know where the leak is, you can choose to fix the roof yourself. Some simple roof repairs are:

Replacing Broken Shingles

If there are only a few damaged shingles, you can take them off, scrape off any old roofing cement with a putty knife, lay down new cement, and nail it back in place. If the area is big, nail down a tarp or plastic sheeting and call a roofer to make sure the job is done right.

Put Sealant Around Chimneys, Vents, & Skylights

If the roof leak is around the chimney, the edges of windows that are close to the roof, or the vents, put new caulk or roof cement around the flashing.

Replace or Fix the Vent Boot

Replace the screws on the vent boot with screws that have rubber washers to keep water from getting in around them. If the rubber boot is worn or cracked, go to the hardware store to buy a new one and put it on.

Choosing Professional Roof Repair

Most roof repairs can’t be done by yourself and should be done by an experienced roofing company to make sure the work is done correctly and up to code. You need a licensed roofing contractor for the following problems:

  • Damaged vents
  • Failing or leaking flashing
  • Multiple or large places where shingles need to be taken off
  • Rotten framing or roof decking.
  • Complete roof replacement

A professional roofer can also do an inspection to see if the leak is just in a small spot and the roof is in good shape overall or if there are other problems that need to be fixed. If the roof is over a certain age, they may also suggest a full roof replacement.

Schedule a FREE Estimate for a Roof Check Today

Don’t ignore a leaking roof or put off fixing it. Give us a call if you need permanent repairs that will hold up in extreme weather and rough conditions. We’re proud to offer residential roofing services in the following New Jersey counties: Bergen, Morris, Passaic, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Somerset, Monmouth, Ocean, and Union. To learn more, call us at (862) 292-9892 or fill out the form below to get a free quote.