What to Do When You Have a Leaking Roof

Water damage is something that many homeowners may have to deal with at some point. Knowing how to prevent a leaking roof and what to do when your roof is leaking may save you time and money. Here are some important things to keep in mind if you encounter a roof leak.

Contact a licensed roofer

Licensed roofers have experience learning how to identify different problems. They’ve also studied and learned the best ways to resolve them. You might think you can save some money by making the repairs yourself. But if the repairs aren’t done properly, it could end up costing you more in the long run.

Attempting to fix a leaky roof can be risky

Even with all the training roofers receive, they have one of the highest work-related death rates in the construction industry.[1] It’s a startling fact that illustrates how dangerous it can be to work on a roof.

Attempting to fix a roofing problem without the proper equipment and training is risky. What you save in money by hiring a professional may not be offset by the amount of time you spend and the tools and equipment you’ll need to buy or rent to get the job done properly.[2]

Contact your homeowners insurance agent if you’re unsure about coverage

See what’s covered in your homeowners insurance policy. Often, homeowners policies cover the replacement of a roof if the damage is caused by an act of nature, such as winds, hail or the weight of heavy snow and ice.[3]

Does homeowners insurance cover roof leaks?

You’ll want to review your insurance policy and see what’s covered. If the leak is the result of age or lack of maintenance, your policy may not cover it. That’s another reason you want to make sure you’re maintaining your roof properly and only hiring qualified, licensed, insured professionals to do any necessary repairs. Shoddy work can lead to more leaks and problems that insurance won’t cover.

What causes a leaking roof?

There are numerous causes of roof leaks. Some of the most common are[4]:

  • Clogged gutters. Gutters backing up with debris and causing water to soak through the roof.
  • Holes in the roof. Holes left behind in the roof after removing a TV antenna or other item that was mounted on the roof.
  • Excess moisture. Poor installation of upper roof gutters that saturates lower roof sections.
  • Missing shingles. Missing roof singles due to storms and high winds.
  • Damaged flashing. Loose flashing around a chimney or skylight that allows water to seep through.
  • Roof vents. Improperly sealed roof vents.
  • Old roof. Roofing materials are deteriorating due to age and weather conditions. The type if roofing material can affect how long your roof lasts.

Knowing what might be causing your roof leaks is a good starting point. For example, if you realize your gutters are clogged, you can have them cleaned and see if that resolves the problem. However, if it’s a bigger problem, you probably want to look at bringing in a professional to assess and repair the damage.

How to prevent roof leaks

Having a licensed professional inspect your roof every few years is a good way to find problems before you have a leak that can cause water damage inside your home. Some roofing companies may perform these inspections at no charge because they’re hoping to get your business in the future. Make sure that the company you choose to do the inspection is licensed, insured and in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.[5]

Other causes of water damage

Of course, a leaking roof isn’t the only way that your home can suffer water damage. Water can also back up from your sewer and drains, which is not only dirty but is also a health hazard.

Having water in your home in places it shouldn’t be can cause a great deal of damage in a short time. As sewer systems age, the rate of sewer backups is increasing, according to the Civil Engineering Research Foundation. While your insurance policy may cover water damage from a leaking roof, it’s important to note that the coverage for water damage may not extend to backups from sewers and drains. Talk to your insurance agent to determine if you need an added endorsement to cover your home against these types of damage.[6]

Even the smallest leak in the roof can cause a big mess. Make sure your homeowners insurance has you covered and that you’re doing proper preventive maintenance for your roof. Learn what you can do to prevent roof damage. Investing in it now can save you time and money down the road.

 

[1] “Causes of Roofer Deaths,” Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health, http://elcosh.org/causes-of-roofer-deaths (Downloaded June 23, 2019).

[2] “Why You Should Hire a Roofing Contractor Instead of Doing It Yourself,” Lifehack, https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/why-you-should-hire-roofing-contractor-instead-doing-yourself (Downloaded June 23, 2019).

[3] https://www.investopedia.com/does-homeowners-insurance-cover-roof-replacement

[4] “Ten Common Reasons for Roof Leaks,” SFGate.com, https://homeguides.sfgate.com/ten-common-reasons-roof-leaks, (Downloaded June 23, 2019).

[5] “Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Replacement?,” Investopedia, https://www.investopedia.com/does-homeowners-insurance-cover-roof-replacement, (May 5, 2019).

[6] “3 Types of Water Damage: Water Backup Overflow, Discharge and Flood,” The Balance, https://www.thebalance.com/sewer-backup-overflow-water-damage (Feb. 28, 2019).

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