Leaky Roof Water Damage

A leaky roof can cause a major amount of water damage. Leaky roofs may catch you off guard because you don’t realize there is a problem until it’s too late. A rainstorm or melting snow suddenly finds its way through a gap in your roof, and the water either collects in your attic or drips through to a room below. Now you’ve got water in your house and a problem with your roof. What do you do?

Water Damage from the Top Down

When water comes into your basement, only the basement is affected. When water comes in through the roof, it will naturally move downward due to gravity, potentially affecting every level of your house if it’s not stopped in time.

First you’ll have damage to your roof, then your attic, insulation, trusses and beams, the ceiling and/or walls below. The water can continue down to the floors, damaging carpet, tile, and hardwoods as well as your furniture and belongings. With a large enough leak and given the right conditions, the water can continue through the next level of your house, and even down to the basement. It is imperative to stop the water as soon as you can to prevent this cascade effect. Otherwise, you could be facing thousands of dollars worth of repairs and weeks or months of stressful disruption in your home.

leaky roof water damage

What Causes a Leaky Roof

Roof leaks can have many causes, and they can be hard to identify because the water runs outward and away from the source of the leak. That means that the spot where the water drips onto your ceiling may be several feet away from the problem on your roof.

Some of the most common causes of leaky roofs are:

  • Old and deteriorating roofing material. Roofs don’t last forever, and over time the shingles or other materials can shrink, shift, or detach from the house. This allows rain water or melting snow to get underneath and begin to permeate the house. 
  • Debris, such as leaves, twigs, and pine needles, that is allowed to collect on the roof can prevent water from running off into the gutters, forcing the water to back up and get under the shingles. 
  • Clogged gutters don’t give rainwater and snowmelt anywhere to go, so the water can get pushed back under the roof. 
  • Poorly sealed roof vents and flashing. Cracked plastic, gaps in the gaskets or decaying caulk are all problems that allow water to access your home. 
  • Holes. Installing a satellite TV dish, solar panels or other items on your roof can create holes which, if they aren’t sealed properly, let water in. 
  • Storms. Strong wind can blow shingles off of even newer roofs, so always inspect your roof for signs of damage after a big storm. Ice jams that build up during a snowstorm can also dislodge shingles or otherwise force water to get under the roof.

Stop the Water

In the event of a leaky roof, the first sign of water damage may be water dripping through your ceiling. If you can access your attic, put a bucket under the leaking area to collect the water. Towels can be used to absorb moisture and a wet-dry vacuum such as a Shop-Vac can be used to remove standing water. If possible, run a fan or dehumidifier to continue to remove moisture from the air, wood and drywall.

If you are able, identify the place where the water is coming through the roof. Again, this may be several feet away from where you first saw the water dripping, as the water can flow down and away from the spot where it came inside. See if you can trace the water back to its source.

It is critical to stop the water and dry the area thoroughly. Water damage can be a serious long-term problem if not handled properly. Water can degrade the structural integrity of your home and create conditions ripe for the growth of mold, which is a danger to your health as well as your home. Never allow water to sit in any area of your home; take steps to remove and dry it as quickly as possible. For large leaks with large amounts of water damage, call a professional.

Safety First

After you’ve stopped the water from running into your house, go outside and survey your roof as best you can. A gutter clog or collection of debris may be easy to identify from the ground. If you can safely access the problem, remove the debris so that water can flow freely to and through the gutter again.

We do not recommend that homeowners attempt to repair their roofs themselves or access their roof via a ladder. The slope of the roof, slippery conditions, and lack of experience create a high degree of risk for the average homeowner. Serious injuries or even death can occur by falling off the roof. NEVER go onto your roof during a storm.

To safely handle roof leaks, we recommend that you call in a professional. A roofer or general contractor experienced with roof repair can help you locate the roof damage and determine what needs to be done to repair it. The professional will be trained to safely access and move around on your roof. Their equipment and experience will be superior to yours, and it’s not worth the risks to your health and safety to try to repair your roof yourself.

How to Get Help

If you have water damage due to a leaky roof, you can get immediate, 24-hour assistance by calling 877-960-0491. You will be connected to a local professional right away that will be able to answer your questions, repair your roof, and clean up the water damage for you. They will come to your home and give you a free no-obligation estimate to take care of your problem.

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