Repairing a roof that is leaking can be a big task. To repair a leaking roof is no big deal. It’s finding the leak is what can be difficult. I’ve been roofing for 6 years and in that time I’ve been called out to fix a lot of leaks. Most of the time I’m able to get the leak stopped on the first visit. That’s not saying much. It’s just a matter of knowing what to look for. After you read this article you should be able to stop your roof from leaking too!
Repair a Leaking Roof – Metal
We’ll start with how to stop a metal roof from leaking. Between metal and shingles, metal is the easiest to fix. From the time you get on the roof, you want to be aware of any spots that are most likely to leak. Such as vent pipes, chimneys, sidewalls, Valleys, transitions, loose screws. There is a trick to fixing any leak. You need to assume that any place on your roof that is vulnerable to leaks could be causing your leaky roof. Most likely you won’t have any sure way of knowing what is causing your leaks. You would be surprised about some of the weirdest leaks I’ve seen. I would have said there is no way it could leak there! Never rule anything out.
Finding the General Area
Sometimes to find the general area of the leak it’s easier to climb into the attic and take a look. If you’re not able to access your attic it’s fine you can still find the leak. However, be mindful that just because the water is coming through a certain place on the ceiling doesn’t mean the roof is leaking directly above it. The water will normally have traveled a distance by the time it gets through your ceiling.
Let’s start with the screws. Get on the roof at the location of the leak. Pay close attention to any screws that are backed out. Also look for screws with worn out washers or screws that were put in crooked, to begin with.
If you find any like this you should take your drill and back the screw out. You can either put caulking around the old screw and tighten it down or get a bigger screw. A bigger screw will ensure that it pulls down tight again. Either way, you should still put caulking around it.
Another place that can easily leak is your vent pipes. Check all your vent pipes and make sure they have a pipe boot on them. If you see one that has a bad pipe boot replace it. You should put a good bead of caulking around them anyway just for good measure. If you recently removed any vent pipe covers and never reinstalled it that could be your problem. It could be leaking at the top of your vent pipe. Reinstall the cover so rain can’t leak in.
Chimneys are a big deal! If you have a chimney close by the area that is leaking there is a good chance your chimney is causing the leak. Check your chimney’s flashing. The part that is most likely to leak is the top and maybe the sides. It’s also possible for the wind to blow the rainwater in at the bottom of the chimney so don’t overlook that. Check for any caulking that may have come loose. Or for flashing that has pulled away from the chimney. Also if you don’t have a cricket it’s possible the water is backing up under your metal. If your chimney is more than two feet wide consider building a cricket.
It’s also possible that rain is blowing up under your ridge cap. Check your ridge and make sure all your metal is ran under far enough to avoid leaks. On our roofs, we normally bend our metal up to stop any water from getting past. They also sell a closure for metal that does the same thing.
A transition is where you have a pitch change on a roof. Normally, it’s for a porch roof or something of that sort. For example, a roof may be running at a 4/12 pitch and change to a 2/12 pitch. That’s a transition. For a transition you’ll be checking for the same thing you would be on the ridge cap. Water blowing back in past your metal. Make sure your metal runs in far enough and if needed, some sort of closure should be installed.
You get valleys when two A-frame roofs run into each other. Valleys can always be a possible leak. If your roof is a very flat roof check to make sure the water isn’t able to run back in under your metal. You should also check where the two valleys meet. Make sure this is sealed off well and add a bead of caulking just in case.
Sidewalls are a possible leak but not as common. Make sure your siding is lapped over your sidewall. At the very least you should make sure the top of your sidewall is sealed with solar seal.
Another possible leak is your end wall. Check and make sure the wind isn’t able to blow rain under it. Also, make sure the top is sealed good. See it’s not so hard to repair a leaking roof!
Repairing a Leaking Roof – Shingles
Shingles are a bit more difficult but a lot of the same rules apply. Check all the same stuff you would on a metal roof. Since we listed it above I won’t go over it again. Instead of screws shingles have nails. Even though they are nailed the nails can still back out. Look for any nails that are backed up through the shingles. It could also be backed out and just not poked through the shingle yet. If you see any like this hammer them down and put sealant on them.
If you have a shingle missing this could be a leak. I’ve already seen it where one missing shingle didn’t cause any leaks. There have also been other times where it’s that one shingle that’s giving you a leaky roof. A quick temporary fix would be to get a piece of underlayment and slide it under the above shingles. Now nail the edges to the roof. This is only a temporary fix of course.
For a permanent fix, you’ll need to replace the torn shingle. Be careful when doing this. It’s very easy to tear other shingles. Trust me that’s really annoying. Take a flat-bar and hammer to gently work the nails out of the above shingles. Once out slide the old shingle out and put a new one in its place. Nail the shingles back down. You will have to hold the nail under the shingle with your flat-bar on a ton of it. You’ll be hitting on top of your shingle with the hammer. If you go easy then you shouldn’t have a problem. That’s all for Repair a Leaking Roof. Let us know in the comments about your roof. We love to hear from you!