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Roof Repair | Roof Leak

7 Things to Do If Your Roof is Leaking

January 17th, 2024 | 7 min. read

7 Things to Do If Your Roof is Leaking

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A roof leak is one of the most stressful situations you’ll face as a homeowner. And you know you have a serious problem once water spots appear on your ceiling.

Trust me; I understand the urgency of the situation. However, being proactive is where your mind should be.

But what should you do if your roof is leaking? And what steps should you take to get it fixed?

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped homeowners deal with the stress of roof leaks. But if we can’t be there to do the work ourselves, we can at least give you the right course of action. 

This article covers the following things (steps) to do if your roof is leaking:

  • Contain the roof leak
  • Find where the roof leak is coming in
  • Call a local roofing company for an inspection
  • Take pictures of internal damage the roof leak caused
  • Get an estimate to repair your roof leak
  • Go over the roof repair and estimate with your roofing contractor
  • Get your roof leak repaired and water test the fix

1. Contain the roof leak

The first thing you need to do if your roof is leaking is contain the water to prevent widespread damage. Put a bucket, pot, garbage can, or other container in your attic to catch water coming down through your roof. 

bucket catching water in a pantry caused by a roof leak

If you don’t have attic access, you’ll need to put the container under the ceiling spot where the water is pooling. The cost to repair water damage inside your home greatly outweighs the cost of your roof repair, so it’s crucial to contain it as much as possible. 

2. Find where the roof leak is coming in

After containing the roof leak, you need to take note of where it’s coming in. This will help narrow down the area where the leak is coming in through your roof, which also provides an idea of what’s causing it.

water running down pipe in attic due to roof leak

By knowing where the roof leak is on the inside, they’ll know where to start looking. Just know that the cause of your leak won’t always be where you see the water come through.

Most roof leaks are within a foot to the right or left of where water is coming in, but there are exceptions. That’s why you need a professional to track the source and cause of your roof leak.

3. Call a local roofing company for an inspection

After getting an idea of where the water is coming in, it’s time to call a local roofing company for a roof inspection and repair. You’ll let them know where the leak is coming in and pass on relevant information from the last two steps. 

This will help the repair technician determine where to start looking and give them a preliminary idea of the roof leak’s potential cause. It also tells them where to put temporary tarping if there’s more rain in the forecast before they can get out to your home.

After passing on the relevant information, they’ll schedule a time to come out for a roof inspection.

4. Take pictures of internal damage the roof leak caused

After getting your inspection and repair scheduled, you need to take pictures of the internal damage the roof leak caused. Document the ceiling or drywall damage caused by the leak, and take photos of valuables or items with water damage. 

While there’s no guarantee of approval, this is in case you have an insurance claim. Your personal property policy should cover water damage to items caused by a roof leak. 

However, homeowners insurance only pays to fix a roof leak if it was caused by a covered peril like wind, hail, or tree damage that happens during storms. Depending on your policy and the extent of damage, a roof leak caused by storms could turn into a full roof replacement

5. Get an estimate to repair your roof leak

Now, it’s time for a roof inspection to find, track, and determine what’s causing your roof leak. Using the information you provided, they’ll look in the general area where the leak is coming into your home.

Most of the time, there’s a clear indication of what’s causing the leak, and they can determine the best way to fix it. Before getting off your roof, they’ll also inspect your roof penetrations and other crucial areas to determine if your roof leak is isolated or from roof failure. 

If they find that your roof leak is caused by the materials failing, it might just be time for a roof replacement. But for this article, let’s assume you just need repairs on a roof with plenty of life left

6. Go over the roof repair and estimate with your roofing contractor

Once they’re off your roof, they’ll have a game plan for what the problem is, how to fix it, and what they need to repair the roof leak. At this point, the roofer should give you a rundown of repairs required to fix the problem and write an estimate for the cost of doing it. 

If it’s a small repair for common roof leaks (like replacing a failed pipe boot or nail pops), they can write up the estimate and repair on the spot after you sign. But they’ll need time to write up the estimate to calculate labor and material costs for bigger and more extensive repairs. 

Once you get and sign the estimate, your roof leak repair will be scheduled. In the meantime, the roofer should tarp the leaking area until they can get back out there.

7. Get your roof leak repaired and water test the fix

With your estimate signed, it’s time to repair your roof leak. The roofer, repair technician, or crew will do the repair per the scope of work on your estimate. 

process of roof repair before, during, and after when repairing a roof leak

Unless another problem is found once they start, the job should be completed the same day, even if it’s a larger repair. Once it’s done, you now have a roof that shouldn’t leak next time it rains. 

Unfortunately, there’s a chance tricky or large roof repairs won’t stop the leak the first time. This is where roofers utilize a water test by taking a hose to run water over the repair. 

water testing a roof leak after a roof repair

While it can’t simulate a rain storm or windy conditions, it helps determine if the leak is still active. Once everything checks out, you can have peace of mind knowing your roof problems are fixed. 

But if your leak shows back up, you’ll have a workmanship warranty that ensures they’ll be back out there to take another look.

How much does it cost to repair a roof leak?

Now, you know the 7 things you need to do when your roof is leaking. I understand experiencing a roof leak is stressful, so you need to call a roofer when you notice the dreaded water spots. 

And now you know what to expect from the process once they come out to your home for an inspection. So, don’t wait until the leak causes thousands of dollars of internal damage, and get it taken care of ASAP. 

But while you know what to do and expect from the process, you still need to know one crucial thing about repairing your roof. This, of course, is how much it’ll cost. 

That’s why I wrote another article breaking down how much it costs to repair a roof. 

Check out How Much It Costs to Repair a Roof Leak to learn how much roof repairs cost on average, prices for common repairs, and what impacts the cost.

repair or replacement quiz

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