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How to Find and Repair a Roof Leak


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  • A leaky roof can be destructive. But what if you can’t find the source right away? With the interior of your home, business, garage, barn, or other area exposed to the elements, severe weather, debris, and other waste can quickly make its way inside your space and cause further destruction. Thankfully, there are some helpful tips you can follow when you need to quickly detect the source of a roof leak. This article outlines how you can find and repair a roof leak, when to contact SERVPRO®, and tells you about our roof tarping process.

    Why Does a Roof Leak?

    While a roof can leak for a variety of reasons, it is mostly due to age and material. Sometimes, a severe storm and high winds can contribute to the deterioration of a roof, causing it to leak. Winter weather can also cause an ice dam on your roof or sitting water which also causes a leak.

    According to Forbes, other common causes of roof leaks include faulty roof vents and damaged plywood roof decking (also known as sheathing).

    How to Find a Roof Leak

    While the type of roof can affect your ability to find leaks efficiently (flat roofing or roofing with low pitches in particular), researchers at Forbes offer the following tips to find a roof leak:

    • Remove shingles and inspect sheathing in the affected area (in case the leak isn’t readily visible)
      • Note: plywood easily absorbs moisture
    • Consider soaking the roof with a water hose or other method, then stand inside the property and listen for dripping or visible leaking
      • Work from one side to the other in a uniform fashion
    • If weather is favorable, safely climb onto the roof and inspect it yourself, looking for damaged or missing shingles, torn flashing, structural damage after a storm, or improperly installed sections
    • Go back inside and try to locate the stain or water damage on the ceiling
      • This may involve tearing out drywall to investigate if you locate something
    • If the leak is in your home and your attic is accessible, use it to examine the rafters, attic floor, damaged sheathing, and stains

    How to Repair a Roof Leak

    While not all-inclusive, researchers at Forbes recommend the following tips to repair a leaky roof:

    • If possible, ensure it is dry and warm out when fixing the roof leak
      • Spring, summer, or even early fall are ideal times
    • If possible, have an assistant with you so you aren’t alone
    • Wear boots with soft soles
    • Wear a breathing mask, and utilize hearing and eye protection
    • Use a Personal Fall Arrest System as recommended by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration
    • Remove twigs, branches, and other debris from the affected area before beginning work

    Forbes’s step-by-step guide to roof repair includes the following:

    1. Find the roof leak
    2. Inspect roof ventilation systems
    3. Remove roof ventilation systems that may be damaged
    4. Replace damaged roof ventilation systems
    5. Remove older roof shingles
    6. Remove older roofing paper
    7. Mark the area where you will cut the deck
    8. Cut damaged roof deck away
    9. Discard damaged roof deck
    10. Cut out a patch of new roof deck
    11. Attach new patch
    12. Lay underlayment or paper in appropriate spot
    13. Lay the first row of undershingles
    14. Finish the shingles

    SERVPRO’s Roof Tarping Service

    SERVPRO technicians follow a six-step process for tarping your roof:

    1. Evaluate the area before roof tarping occurs, checking for any hazards such as downed electrical lines
    2. Perform a needs analysis to confirm necessary equipment and materials for the job
    3. Remove debris from the area
    4. Measure the area requiring roof tarping
    5. Complete board-up and roof tarping, ensuring technicians are cautious and avoid additional damage requiring repair
    6. Evaluate the interior and recommend possible construction or other restoration needs if necessary

    SERVPRO is Available Year-Round

    2,000 SERVPRO franchises are located across the United States and Canada, so you can feel confident knowing there is a location nearby. When you require roof tarping services, water damage cleanup help, fire damage cleanup, or more, give your local SERVPRO a call. Our professional technicians have over five decades of experience across the system, and use a variety of proprietary products, equipment, and techniques to return your space to pre-loss condition, “Like it never even happened.”

    No matter when it happens, a leaky roof is an interruption in your life. Whether it is a weekend, holiday, or 3 in the morning, SERVPRO is ready to make it “Like it never even happened.”


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