DIY: Fix a leaking roof

23 Mar 2012

Your roof is among the most important parts of your home. It protects you, your belongings and the structure of the building from potential damage caused by rain, wind and all sorts of other rough weather conditions.

If you cannot get into your ceiling, you will need to get on top of the roof and look for any obvious roof damage.

If you leave a leak untreated, it will cause damage to your home’s structure, as well as to your personal belongings.

Any leak should be taken very seriously and fixed as soon as possible.

Finding the source of the leak

Because the leak seldom stems directly above the wet spot in the ceiling, locating a leak in the roof can be a difficult task.

Remember that the leak is almost always much higher in the roof than the wet ceiling.

 It is usually much easier to find a leak if you can access and crawl into the roof above the ceiling and because it is easier to detect a leak when light is shining through the roof, try and inspect the roof during the day. 

If you are not having any luck, get a sprinkler on the roof and stand in the roof with a very bright light and shine it up at the underside of the roof. The minute some water comes through, it will reflect the light and you will have sourced the entrance for the water.

If you cannot get into your ceiling, you will need to get on top of the roof and look for any obvious roof damage. If you see any puddles while on top, there is often a good chance that the bottom of the tile has a crack in it and the water is leaking in from there.

A good idea is to replace any dented tiles on the roof even if they are not causing a leak.

Flashing

Bad or loose flashing is often the cause of a leaking roof. Frequently, the flashing can come loose in very strong winds and storms, and the nails can also pull out, leaving a perfect entrance - for water -into your home.

Check the flashing around chimneys, as well as along any parapet walls. If you have a balcony above a room and it is tiled, check all the grouting. Very often, the heat of the sun can cause the grout to crack and this too can be an entry point for unwanted water leakage.

Regrout the tiles in question using the same waterproof mix that professional tilers would use for a shower floor or walls.

PVC sheeting

Often, in newly built homes, the builders have done rush jobs and left out the PVC sheeting under the tiles in order to save time and money and this can be the root cause of many leaks. In older homes, this sheeting may have become damaged over time and will need to be replaced. Replacing this sheeting is a relatively big job, as all the tiles will need to be lifted, the PVC sheeting installed, and then the tiles will need to be reinstalled. It is advisable then, that you hire a professional to do the job for you.

Once you have found the leak, the majority of the problem is over as you can treat the area in question in a suitable manner.

Most roof leaks can be repaired quickly and inexpensively depending on the source of the problem and how much you want to spend - nearly every leak can be plugged or patched in a matter of minutes.

Once the job is done, put the hose on the roof or wait for the next rain to check that the identified leak has been fixed.

When you have done everything that you can but the problem still persists, you will need to get in a professional waterproofing expert to solve the problem for you. – Antonella Desi  

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