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When you spot that tell-tale drip of water coming down from your ceiling, it might be tempting to panic. But if you keep a clear head and follow the right steps, you’ll get it fixed in no time. Here’s a walkthrough of the steps you should take when you notice a roof leak.
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1. Minimize Damage. The second you notice a leak, you should spring into action to do what you can to protect your possessions and the interior of your house. Place a large bucket or other container under the dripping water. Move all electronic equipment, furniture, and any other item that might get damaged. If you can’t move something, cover it with plastic to protect it.
When your roof leaks, you’ll often see bubbles or bulges in the ceiling. This is a sign that water is pooling, and if you don’t release the pressure, it could actually bring your whole ceiling down. Use the tip of a screwdriver or a pin to puncture the bubble and allow the water to drain out.
If you didn’t get to the leak before it damaged some of your belongings, you may be able to get some reimbursement from insurance. Check with the company that holds your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if damage from roof leaks is covered.
2. Try to find the leak’s source. The majority of roof leaks come from areas where the shingles are damaged or missing; spots where flashing around chimneys, vents, or other protrusions is corroded or pulled up; holes where nails have worked themselves loose; or clogged gutters.
In daylight, inspect both the inside (through the attic, if you have one) and outside of your roof. Clear any obstructions and try to find the exact spot where the water’s getting in. Can’t locate the source of the leak? It’s time to call in a roofing professional.
Keep in mind that the leak may not be coming from your roof at all. Damaged internal pipes are a common cause of leaks as well, so it’s important to verify that it truly is a roof leak.
3. If possible, try a DIY fix. Depending on the severity of the problem, you may be able to fix the leak yourself when you find the source. If the issue is damaged sealing around flashing, for example, you may be able to apply roof tar to seal it back up, or you can clean out gutters and downspouts.
4. Call in a professional. In many cases, fixing the leak yourself isn’t realistic, especially if you have an older roof. A professional roofing contractor will find (or verify) the exact cause of the leak and take the steps to handle it properly. In addition to knowing the job is done right, you’ll have the added bonus of avoiding potentially dangerous trips up on top of your roof with a ladder.