A leaking roof is more than just a few drops of water on the floor. From structural water damage to mould problems and electrical hazards, a leaking roof has the potential to cause serious water damage, safety risks and health problems.
If you notice a problem, you should call in the pros to fix the roof leak as soon as possible. Or if you’re a capable home handyperson, you can take care of the repairs yourself. However, that could mean waiting a few days before a qualified roofer is available or at least until the rain has stopped so you can take care of the repairs yourself. And in that time, you could be facing some serious damage. So if you’re dealing with a leaking roof, here’s what you should do to minimise the damage.
- Minimise immediate water damage
Even a small amount of water can lead to costly water damage. If you notice a roof leak, your first move should be minimising the risk of water damage.
Start by moving any furniture, electronics and valuables away from the leak, preferably into another room. Few possessions are designed to handle constant water exposure.
Next lay down a plastic tarp to protect the floor under the leak. While some flooring is water resistant to degree, like vinyl and tiles, you should limit its exposure to water. If not, the flooring may need to be replaced. Make sure the plastic tarp has no leaks and covers the area of the leak.
- Contain water
Depending on the circumstances, such as a heavy rainstorm, it may be some time before it will be safe to repair the leak. Therefore, you need to be prepared to contain as much water as possible.
The easiest way to do this is to have buckets ready to catch and collect the water from the leak. You may need to routinely empty these buckets out to prevent them from overflowing and damaging anything in the immediate area.
- Dry anything that has gotten wet
If anything has gotten wet because of the leak, it’s vital that you dry it out as soon as possible. This will minimise damage to it, such as water stains, as well as prevent mould from growing.
Mould thrives in damp, dark conditions and can be extremely hazardous to your health. Therefore, once you’ve gotten everything out of the way of the leak and any water contained, you need to get onto drying what you can. You can use hair dryers or space heaters for the job. In extreme circumstances, you may need to call in professionals. If you do intend to dry anything yourself, ensure you don’t accidentally damage it by exposing it to high heats.
- See if you can find the source of the leak
In order to fix the roof leak quickly, you need to know what has caused the leak.
The best way to find the source of a roof leak is to go into your attic or roof space while it is still raining. You can then follow the water’s trail right to the source. Often roof leaks are caused by flashing that has pulled away or damaged shingles or roof tiles.
If you find the source, mark it and take a photo so that you will be able to find it again when the rain stops.
- Take pictures of any damage
For insurance purposes, it’s best to take any photos of the damage, as well as the leak. This can help speed up any insurance claims.
These photos can also be useful when it comes time to make repairs, helping you show any tradespeople where the leak was and the severity of it.
- Make any necessary repairs
If you are handling the repairs yourself, once the rain stops, you can get started. Obviously, you will need to repair the cause of the leak, such as a broken roof tile, but you will also need to make repairs to any water damaged surfaces. This may include replacing sections of your ceiling or flooring, as well as repainting areas that have been affected.
While some of these jobs you may be able to do yourself, particularly if you’re a DIY expert, you should leave any roof repairs to the professionals. Working on a roof is both difficult and dangerous. Additionally, it can be easy to cause more damage as you attempt to make repairs.
You may find it helpful to make a list of all the repairs required. From there, you can work out what sort of tradespeople you need, as well as if there are any jobs you can do yourself.
- Prevent future leaks
Once all repairs have been made, it’s a good idea to minimise the likelihood of future leaks. This will not be a one-time instance though — be prepared to turn these tasks into habits.
Aim to keep all trees around your home trimmed. Overhanging branches can damage your roof as they move in the wind, causing leaks. These branches can also fall during extreme weather and do serious damage to your roof and home.
You should also be regularly cleaning your gutters. Many roof leaks are caused by gutters overflowing and water then going into the roof cavity. Keep your gutter free from debris, like leaves and sticks, to avoid this.
Similarly, have your roof cleaned regularly to avoid any build-up of debris on it. The weight of this debris can cause tiles to crack. Debris can also impact the flow of water off your roof, forcing it into the roof cavity.
When you have your roof cleaned, get it checked for any issues as well. Roofing experts will be able to spot any cracks or problems and repair them before they can become leaks.
If your roof starts to leak the next time it rains, stay calm. Follow the steps above to handle the problem and any damage caused. And don’t forget to look after your roof in the future to ensure it doesn’t happen again.