What to Do When Your Roof Starts to Leak

No homeowner wants to see water leaking from the roof. Whether the result of a storm or rotted materials, a leaky roof should be addressed right away. Otherwise the issue will continue to worsen, resulting in additional damage and more costly repairs. If you find yourself in this situation, consider the following steps.

1. Protect Your Home and Belongings

As your first line of defense, reduce as much damage as possible. If the leak has occurred in an area with furniture, move pieces out of the way. To protect carpeted floors, place a tarp or waterproof sheet on top to minimize water damage, mildew and mold growth.

2. Contain the Water

Find an appropriate vessel to hold the water. This could be a bucket, garbage can or any large, nonporous container you can place underneath the leak. As each container fills up, have a backup nearby so you can empty the contents.

3. Address Water Pressure

A leak could result from rot, a hole or water pooling in one location, which can happen with ice dams. You’re likely dealing with pooled water if you spot a bulge, sagging or depression from your roof or see a dark area surrounding the leak.

In these scenarios, the leak will not let up until the pressure above is relieved. To do so, identify where the water has been pooling and puncture the material. Have a trash can or other container below to catch the water.

Only addressing the leak could result in additional damage to your roof, including a collapse.

4. Secure a Tarp on the Roof

Especially during periods of regular rain or snow, you risk weather conditions worsening the leak and subsequent damage. As you wait for repairs to be made, have your roof tarped. Polyethylene material will be secured directly to the roof, so that it doesn’t blow off.

5. Take Photos

Contact your homeowners insurance carrier to file a claim. Take pictures of the roof and any water damage, including the interior of your home and belongings.

6. Get Repairs Done

A tarp is designed to be temporary. To fix the issue, you will need to contact a professional roofing company for repairs. The work needed will depend on the extent of damage and the age of your roof. Spot repairs are acceptable for roofs 15 years old or younger, yet nearing 20 years or older will likely require a new roof.

Roof leaks are rarely isolated instances. There’s a chance that structural or erosion issues may be identified during the roofing company’s initial survey. 

7. Get Rid of Any Water

Even after completing these steps, you still may be dealing with some water damage. To prevent potential mold growth, dry out any furniture, clothing and fabric-based items, and have your carpets thoroughly cleaned and dried.

If the damage was significant, work with a water extraction company to remove carpeting, drywall and other water-soaked materials.

8. Develop a Future Plan

To anticipate roof leaks before they happen:

  • Eliminate sources that could contribute to future leaks. For instance, cut down tree limbs close to the roof and get in the habit of cleaning gutters to prevent ice dams.
  • Regularly check your roof after a severe storm, assessing the area for missing shingles, flashing and damage around the chimney.
  • When you notice roof damage, such as missing or cracked shingles, have it addressed right away.

Before you find yourself in this situation, make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. To review your homeowners policy, contact us today.