In Loudoun county, many of the homeowners and commercial property owners don’t think about their roofs. Most people don’t really think about the roof over their heads…until it springs a leak! Don’t wait until water is pouring through the ceiling and you have to break out the buckets to pay attention to your roof.
If you think you might need a new roof, the first place to check isn’t your home exterior—it’s your attic. So arm yourself with a flashlight and climb up under the eaves. Look for beams of light coming through the top of the house or stains and streaks, which signal a leaky roof .
The hardest part of fixing a roof leak? A lot of times, it’s simply locating the problem. Sure, it’s easy enough to spot water stains or mold growth—sure signs of a leak. But once water has penetrated the roof, it’s easily diverted by such things as insulation. So even though you may notice the evidence of a leak in the corner bedroom, the vulnerable point in your roof may be quite far removed from that part of your house. That’s why roof repair jobs typically begin with a certain amount of detective work. Here are some tips to help you crack the case quickly, so you can plug the leak before the damage gets any worse.
Get a Good Look
Arm yourself with a flashlight and head up to the attic. Be careful up there: If there’s no proper flooring, step carefully from joist to joist. (If you step between the joists, you might put a foot through the ceiling of the room below!) Once you’ve got your bearings, use the flashlight to examine the underside of the roof. Look out for any areas that are darker than the surrounding roof sheathing. If there hasn’t been rain recently, moist spots may be too difficult to discern. Mold, on the other hand, has the tendency to linger. So if you encounter a patch of mold, which thrives on moisture, chances are you’ve found the vulnerable point in your roof.
The underside of your roof may be obscured by insulation, and that’s helpful for the task at hand, because insulation deteriorates more noticeably and more quickly than wood does. If you’re seeing damage on one section of the insulation, however, you must remember that the leak itself may be several feet to either side. It’s best to carefully remove all insulation adjacent to the spot where you notice signs of a leak. That way, you can follow the path of the water from the damaged area all the way to the water’s entry point in the roof. Remember that whenever you are working with insulation, it’s important to wear the appropriate protective gear.
Most noticeable to the eye are leaks caused by an object (for example, an errant nail) that’s managed to pierce the roof. Failing any such obvious signs, check out the roof vents. If present, these vents are typically near ridges or gable ends, or both. Over time, the seals around vents can gradually weaken, allowing rainwater to seep in.
What happens if you’re desperate to find a roof leak, but recent dry weather has made your search more challenging? Well, you can always simulate a storm. This method requires two people. While one person goes up on the roof, garden hose in tow, the other person remains in the attic, flashlight in hand. Section by section, the person on the roof wets down the roof, while the other carefully examines the roof’s underside for leakage. By simulating a downpour, you can witness firsthand how your roof withstands—or fails to withstand, as the case may be—conditions that mimic those of a natural storm.
The Next Step
Leaks only get worse. Act quickly once you’ve pinpointed the location of yours. Fortunately, in many instances it takes only a modest repair to fix the leak—for example, replacing a shingle. If you don’t feel comfortable on the roof, however, or if the leak seems extensive, do not hesitate to Contact us
Review your home improvement records to see how long ago the roof was replaced or reshingled. Knowing when a roof was installed (and what it’s made of) offers insight into how much life it has left. For instance, a typical asphalt shingle roof lasts 20 to 25 years, while a roof installed over an existing layer of shingles should be replaced after 20 years.
Keep an eye on your rooftop to make sure its in ship-shape, especially after heavy storms. Shingles should lie flat against the roof; if you find patches that are cracked, damaged, or buckling, then repairs are in order. While you’re at it, check the gutters and downspouts for shingle granules—a roof that is losing a lot of granules may be at the end of its useful life.
The flashing around vents, skylights, and chimneys seals the seams of the roof from rain and weather. Examine these points make sure there are no cracks or breaks, which could lead to leaks. In older homes, flashing is often made of roof cement or tar, but it’s a good idea to upgrade to a metal flashing system for added durability.
A droopy, sagging roof is one that surely needs replacing before further damage occurs to your home. Check the surface for signs of trapped moisture, rotting boards, or sagging spots—especially at the lowest points in the roof.
Just because you have a few damaged shingles or a bit of a leak, don’t automatically assume that you need a whole new roof. If your roof has been properly installed and is younger than 15 or 20 years old, it may get by with repairs rather than a full replacement. When in doubt, contact a licensed roofing contractor to get a professional opinion.