Important: We at Roofing Mission (a.k.a “BulletpRoof Roof Systems”) want to provide a word of caution to homeowners who are ever unsure about undergoing a repair themselves (a DIY project). Don’t take the risk, unless you’re completely certain, otherwise consult a professional roofer who can prevent a minor repair turning into a major repair or worse. Safety first!
When it comes to roofing repairs, catching any leaks and any potential structural failures (damage to siding, walls, roof decks, roof sheathings, etc.), as early as possible before it cascades throughout the interior of your and becomes a serious problem. Where a minor roof repair would solve the issue, before it becomes a major repair or worse a roof replacement. The culprit is almost always a leak, water that has managed to get through the roof’s protective seal for a number of reasons, and this leak could’ve been the tiniest of leaks that snuck right under the homeowner’s nose.
It’s not the homeowner’s fault, by no means, a leak can accumulate water over time leading to many issues for both the home and occupants’ health; Like mold, rot, algae growth, black streaks or water stains on the ceiling, dripping ceiling, damaging other important systems (ex. electrical, plumbing, etc.), structural failures in the home’s framing, etc. All the homeowner needs to be aware of is water stains on ceilings, musty odors in specific rooms, unusual bulging patches on walls, spots on exterior walls, etc.; Anything that doesn’t seem right, probably isn’t right.
To help the homeowner decipher where they fit, what kinds of repairs their roof may require, we’ve outlined them below for you.
Table of Contents
- Warning Signs & Types of Roofing Repairs
Warning Signs & Types of Roofing Repairs
Depending on the location of the home, the roof installation’s current condition, and wear and tear it has endured (from rainfall, falling branches, maintenance levels, etc.). Below is a general outline that any homeowner can use to gauge their expectations for the roofing repair they need, being either:
- Minor Roofing Repairs
- Major Roofing Repairs
- Emergency Roofing Repairs
- Roof Replacement
In any case, if the homeowner doesn’t know what they’re doing, it’s advised to contact a “BulletpRoofer” or a professional roofing company for a solution. Otherwise, attempting to repair the issue themselves could result in more serious problems for the homeowner.
Minor Roofing Repairs
A minor roofing repair is affordable, and requires basic tools and knowledge that can help to prevent a small leak from becoming a serious problem for the roof and home.
For those DIYers, many of these repairs require either replacing or installing a new flashing (includes over small holes as caulking or a sealant would only work temporarily), or replacing a few cracked shingles, siding, old hardened caulk with new caulk, etc. Please consult our guide on “How to find a Roof Leak?” below.
If you do choose to perform the roof repair yourself, here are some safety guidelines to keep you out of trouble:
- Avoid falls by never working on wet, snowy or an icy roof – Performing the repair when it is the driest and warmest weather for at least a few days, either in late spring or mid to late summer or even early fall (check the immediate weather forecast for more information). Reason being, during the roof repair, the roof deck may be exposed over a few days and as individual not equipped for year-round weather like a professional roofing company, the repair could become a potential leak hazard for your home
- Always work with an assistant to keep one another as safe as possible and follow proper work practices; Wear soft-soled boots, remove any debris like twigs and branches that could trip you, keep your work area organized, etc.
- Use a Personal Fall Arrest System (PFAS) to prevent you from falling off of the side of a house, by slowing and stopping you before it happens; Otherwise, use a fixed Fall Restraint System to prevent yourself from reaching the unprotected edge of the roof at all.
Consult the comprehensive CCOHS publication “Fall Protection – Anchors” for a range of safety recommendations to keep you safe while repairing your roof.
Common repairs to consider:
- Cleaning gutters
- Replacing missing or cracked shingles
- Filling punctures or holes
- Small leak patch
- Draining any pooled water
- Flashings (small holes, rust or corrosion spots, broken seals, etc.); Step flashings along walls that intersect with the roof; Chimney, air vent, plumbing vent boot flashings and other roof protrusions
- Walls and dormers because of wind-driven rain the window edges, corner boards and siding, cracks, knotholes in siding, etc.
How to Find a Roof Leak?
Generally, it’s better to fix a leaky roof immediately, no matter if it isn’t bothering you or you’re getting a new roof in the next year because small leaks (are easily repairable) can turn into serious problems for the home one day.
So knowing you have a leaky roof is the easy part (water stain on the ceiling, dark streaks, etc.), finding a leak is the hardest part and a roof leak repair is pretty easy too.
To find a leak, there are a few methods that have a decent track-record.
- First, matching where the ceiling water stain aligns with the roof uphill, the source of leak could be directly above the ceiling stain, or to the right or to the left of it. A helpful hint is to look at roof penetrations (chimneys, air vents, plumbing, domers, etc.) are a commonplace for leaks to appear as opposed to open areas of the roof, where it is more rare. With that in mind, if you have access to the attic, using a flashlight it’s possible to look for signs of suspicious water damage (mold, dark streaks, dripping, etc.). Which should uncover some clues as to where the leak is coming from, otherwise try the next method.
- Second, with one person on the roof with a garden hose and another person inside to see if the leak returns. Roughly, spending over an hour, the person on the roof is trying to isolate where the leak is coming from by spending a few minutes running the hose on each of the suspected areas of the roof. It’s recommended to work your way up the roof’s slope, making it easier to rule out areas before moving on. Make sure to instruct the person inside to communicate to you that the leak came back, this allows the other person to know they found the area that is leaking. If this doesn’t uncover some clues as to where the leak is coming from, otherwise try the next method.
- Third, if running water doesn’t reveal the leak, slowly start removing shingles to look for discolored roof felt paper, water stains or rotted wood underneath. Depending on the severity of any of these, try to trace back to which shingle(s) have the worst damage underneath them. Most likely, this is where the leak is. Which should uncover some clues as to where the leak is coming from, otherwise try the next method.
- Fourth, if your ceiling has a plastic vapor barrier between the drywall and attic insulation, this barrier normally traps the water that is leaking. Push the insulation aside, looking for water flow stains on the plastic and this water flow stain is most likely to appear near openings like light fixtures.
- Finally, If there aren’t any signs of water flow marks on the vapor barrier, look at the underside of the roof for “shiners”. These are nails that were driven in deeply and appear to be frosted; Moisture that escapes into the cold attic from the rooms below often condenses on these cold nails, and on cold nights they freeze, becoming a white colour, and during the day they melt. Causing a drip off of these nails. If that’s the case, then use side-cutting pliers to clip the nail to prevent this from continuing.
Somewhere along the tracking process, a leak should appear evident at some point.
Major Roofing Repairs
Depending on the severity of the major repair, it’s advised to not tackle this yourself for your own and your home’s safety because it requires a professional with specialized materials, making it quite expensive.
As a general rule, anytime any of your home’s major systems are compromised, please do yourself a favour and consult a professional; These systems include the roof, electrical, plumbing, HVAC or the home’s structure (engineering-related). Attempting any renovations in these areas are avoidable safety hazards waiting to happen.
Common repairs to consider:
- Electrical wiring problems
- Plumbing pipe problems
- Extensive water damage; Dark streaks, wood frame has softened, etc.
- Extensive treatment of organic growth (mold, rot, moss, algae growth, etc.) and gasses
- Roof shrinkage or sagging
- Chimney repair and flashing requiring a complete replacement
Emergency Roofing Repairs
After a storm-event (hailstorm, heavy rainfall, etc.), earthquake, broken tree branch falling, etc. it’s difficult to know the degree of damage to your home unless it’s consulted with a professional as soon as possible; To identify the leak and any subsequent roof damage immediately, so that repairs can be applied before it worsens.
The range of damage that’s possible will determine whether a minor or major repair will be sufficient to get your home’s roof back into good shape.
Any roof that has reached the 20 years with significant recurring damage should be replaced, as it is no longer viable as protection for your home; Keep in mind, a roof with little damage could last upwards of 30 years, but this is dependent on the material (asphalt, metal, rubber, cedar, concrete tile, etc.) that has been installed on your roof.
Depending on the roof’s condition, there are three roof replacement options to consider; Either:
- Re-Roofing – An affordable shingle replacement for roofs in relatively good shape; For example, old asphalt to new asphalt shingles, old metal to new metal panels and so on, which includes repairs to the roof deck as opposed to layering new materials on top; Where repairing the roof deck uncovers and repairs issues before they become serious problems; While layering new materials on the old materials will only promote these issues and help them become serious one day.
- Conversion – A semi-affordable conversion is either from (concrete or clay) tiles or cedar shakes to a new material, which includes repairs to the roof deck (for tiles, as cedar requires a new roof deck installation); For roofs in relatively good shape; Normally to increase the roof’s longevity, reduce maintenance costs and increase curb appeal.
- Roof Replacement – Expensively tearing off the old roof (shingles, roof deck, framing, etc.) and installing a brand new roof, meant for a roof in bad shape; Where the damage to the roof has reached an irreversible or irreparable point, leaving only replacing it as the only solution.
It’s recommended to consult a “BulletpRoofer” for what is the best fit for your home’s longevity.
Otherwise, if any of the above doesn’t match your roof’s repair situation, consider getting your roof cleaned. Regular annual cleaning will reduce the need for future repairs and keep your roof in decent shape, increasing the longevity of both your roof and your home.