What to Do When Your Roof Starts to Leak

No homeowner wants to see water leaking from their roof. Whether the result of a storm or wood rot, a leaky roof should be addressed right away. If not resolved, the issue will only worsen, resulting in additional damage and a higher repair bill. If you suddenly find yourself in this situation, consider taking the following steps.

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 and other valuables, move them out of the way. To protect carpeting, add a tarp or waterproof sheet on top. Otherwise you risk water damage, mold and mildew.

Contain the Water

Next, find a vessel to hold the water. Effective options include a bucket, garbage can or any large, nonporous container you can place underneath the leak. As each container will eventually fill up, have backups nearby to empty the contents.

Address Water Pressure

A leak could be the result of rot, a hole or indication of water pooling in one spot. You’re likely dealing with this issue 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 lessened. To relieve this pressure, identify where the water has been pooling and puncture the material. Have a trash can or other container below to catch the water.

Secure a Tarp on the Roof

Particularly during periods of regular rain or snow, you risk the weather conditions worsening a leak and subsequent damage.

As you wait for repairs to be done, have your roof tarped. Polyethylene material will go over the damaged area, secured directly to the roof so that it does not blow off.

Take Photos

Reach out to your homeowner’s insurance carrier to file a claim. Take pictures of the roof and any water damage to support your claim, including to your home and belongings.

Get Repairs Done

A tarp is designed to be temporary. To fix your roof, you will need to contact a professional roofing company for repairs.

The work that needs to be done will depend on the extent of damage and the age of your roof. Spot repairs are acceptable if your roof is 15 years old or younger, while a roof near or older than 20 years will likely require replacement.

Also keep in mind that 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. 

Get Rid of Any Water

After going through all 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 carpet, drywall and other water-soaked materials.

Develop a Plan For the Future

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, including assessing the area for missing shingles, flashing and damage around the chimney.
  • Address roof damage right away, including missing or cracked shingles.

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