In older homes, roof leaks can unfortunately be all too common due to damaged shingles or simply the effects of aging. To fight this problem without investing in an entirely new roof, learning how to find and fix a pesky leak can be a great way to save money and save on annual home expenses.
Locating the Leak
While a tell tale sign of a leaky roof is dripping water, you will need to check that a plumbing blockage or broken pipe isn't to blame instead. Pooled water can also create water spots or "bulges" in the ceiling and should be immediately investigated. Unfortunately, the location of the water inside your home probably won't correlate to the origin point on your roof.
While your problem is most likely a cracked or missing shingle, once the water bypasses your roof's exterior, it will travel along beams or rafters until it can drip down and compromise your ceiling. After locating what appears to be a water leak on your ceiling, your attic should be the next search location. During rain, the leak should be easily visible, but if you're in a hurry to locate the source of your problem, have a family member spray a hose onto the roof to simulate wet weather.
The most effective solution to a roof leak is a galvanized metal sheet flashing that can be cut to the size of your current shingles and placed directly over the hole. This solution is both cheap and unnoticeable but should not be used as a permanent fix (as extreme weather could damage the sheet metal).
Depending on your roof type, a specially designed primer and patching system can be brushed onto the damaged area. While this isn't effective for large holes, it is an easy and cheap fix for small leaks.
Large Areas of Damage
For larger leaks, gaping holes, or undetectable problems caused by extreme winds or rain, polyethylene sheeting is recommended to temporarily stop the flow of water into your home. While a professional will eventually have to be contacted, stretching the sheet over the damaged area and securing it with staples or two by fours will keep water out until a professional can assess the problem.
Although leaks can be frustrating and require immediate attention, it is always important to practice proper safety measures when working on roofs. Secure ladders or harnesses are essential to the proper installation of polyethylene sheeting or temporary leak solutions.
For more information and ideas, contact a local roof restoration company.