When it comes to home maintenance, roofs always seem to be one of the biggest issues. This is because of how important a roof is. It works hard to prevent sunlight from overheating your house, it keeps pests away, it keeps your climate control in place, and it must do all of this while being bombarded by the unending ravages of nature and weather.
Of course, the biggest role of a roof, in the eyes of most, is to keep the water out. Water damage is an insidious, diabolical thing, cultivating toxic molds, and causing your home and possessions to decay rapidly. You don’t want water getting into your house, not at all.
So, when your roof starts leaking during rains, it can be a very dismaying thing. Not only is the immediate problem (water’s getting in) stressful, but it brings implications much more serious – leaks are a symptom of a problem, not the root problem themselves.
We’ve all probably experienced a leaky roof before, but perhaps it was when we were young, and it was the onus of our elders to deal with it. Well, now that our roof is leaking, what should we do? What are the immediate actions to take, and what should we do long-term to address this?
Today, we’re going to take a close look at what to do for immediate containment of these leaks, how to address the long-term and some of the most common causes of these with otherwise seemingly fine-looking roofs. This water isn’t just unpleasant, it’s destructive, and if there are leaks, they will get worse as well.
Alright, clearly if your roof is leaking during the rain, you can’t do anything too extensive about it until the weather has turned more agreeable. Thus, until the rain stops, water is just going to keep meandering its way into the house. This isn’t good.
The first thing to do is recognize where the leak is. If you have a two-story home, and a lower story ceiling is leaking, that means the water is going on a long, destructive journey through walls and pooling in the space between floors. You can do nothing about it at that immediate moment, but it’s important to make note of it right away.
The first thing to do immediately is to find buckets, tubs, and high-capacity container you can, to catch the water. If it’s flowing like running water, then you should immediately evacuate, because the damage to that extent is immediately inhospitable to human occupation entirely.
Be sure that no electrical systems are being exposed to the leakage along its path. If you’re pretty sure water’s getting around electrical components, you should cut the power to that room if possible. Shorts and electrical fires are very dangerous, and rain and water presence won’t stop these usually.
The next immediate containment action should be to get any valuables or fragile possessions out of reach of the leak(s). These include furniture, clothing, electronics, anything that needs to be kept sanitary. These catching buckets should be closely watched. If the rate of water intrusion shows signs of increase, this is cause for emergency action and possibly evacuation.
Stopping a Leak
You might be able to stop the leak. If it’s only happening when it rains, then there’s something wrong with your roof, regardless of where the internal leak is manifesting. If you can get into your attic – and you should have access to this space – you may be able to find the point where it’s getting in.
Depending on the severity of the leak, it may be relatively simple to temporarily stop it. Tar is the best material to use for this, though some formulations of putty are capable of curing, temporarily, even in damp conditions, if the leak is minuscule.
Any fix like this should always be regarded as purely temporary, with more professional means of a repair being employed at the earliest practical time.
If the leak(s) seem to be small, then you can safely get on your roof after the fact, and search for probable causes of the leak. Obviously, these should be somewhat close to where the leak is appearing in the attic.
Things to look for are decaying seals around ventilation, skylights and other features. This also goes for seams or other interruptions in the roof. Missing or cracked shingles, as well as buckled or deformed shingles can also provide routes for water to work its way in.
If you see no signs of this or consistent signs, both (for different reasons) are calling for a more in-depth inspection by roofing professionals of high skill and reputation.
If the leaks are severe, indicating that your roof is severely damaged, you should attempt only a basic survey from your ladder, and only professionals should try to walk on such a roof.
The Ravages of Water Damage
Water damage can cause all manner of problem, which means if these leaks persist for any real length of time, you may also have to contend with interior repairs or remediations as well. Water damage, as said before, can cause electrical problems as well.
The more troublesome long term effects are the cultivation of mold, and the decay of plasters and structure, causing your house to become soggy, moldy, and collapse over time. If this damage gets bad enough, it can result in homes being condemned, and often demolition (or near demolition) being the only solution.
Mildew and other molds aren’t inherently toxic, but they can draw pests, continue to rot things like carpet and plaster, and they smell and look foul. Black mold, which is indistinguishable due to its dark blight appearance, is, in fact, toxic, and overexposure can actually kill you.
It’s generally best for all serious repairs to be handled by the best contractors you can find. You want experienced roofers and interior people who can solve the sources of water damage, and remove their footprint on your house.
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