The Gravity of your Roof Problem

By: Lou Lynch

Who needs to read an article about finding leaks? It is easy to tell if there is a problem - water drips into your home! But what if you can't find the cause? The gravity of your roof may be causing the gravity of your problem!

Many houses these days have a low pitch roof. This means that the slope is gradual and not very steep. On windy days you may suffer from wind blown rain which is forced under your roof tiles and eventually finds its way to your ceiling. This is especially true of wind and rain storms, where the wind lashes the rain into the roof. Later, when you search for the cause of the leak, a source is not apparent.

You will probably need to be on the roof to see if any of the tiles could 'lift'. It is also a good idea to check for lifting against the direction of the pre-dominant wind direction in your area. Some roof problems can often only be seen at close quarters. Remember to look diagonally and sideways at your roof tiles.

If you venture up onto the roof, you may prefer to take a few precautions. Some people tie themselves to a chimney pot or a structural beam, to avoid falling the whole way off the roof! As walking on your roof can crack your roofing, put a ladder and planks across the structurally supported parts of the asphalt.

If your roof is old, then the shingles may be buckling under - a common problem with aging roofs. There is also the obvious leak problem: a missing roof tile, or a chipped or broken one. While you are up there check the flashing; it is a common trouble spot, accounting for 90% of all roof leaks. Flashings happen at chimneys, plumbing stacks, skylights, walls and valleys. Make sure that the flashing is at least three inches past the edge of the asphalt.

Of course tracking down the source of a leak is problematic, as the leak is often not where the water gathers or drips. Horizontal roof boards can encourage the water to navigate several feet sideways from the source of the leak. Also, different weather conditions can produce spasmodic leaks in varied locations.

If you have carried out all these checks to no avail, then another way that you may find a leak is to produce man made conditions. Or to put it plainly, drench your roof with a garden hose and get someone inside the house to tell you when and where it comes in. Sounds primitive but it can start your detective work off in the right direction!

Remember you will be trying to simulate rain, which falls downwards! Point the hose in a downward direction and start at the lowest part of the roof. Use a gentle flow of water, and be patient! - It may take several minutes for the leak to manifest.

If you feel confident that you have found the source of the leak, do not caulk it or use roofing cement! Some people successfully slide a piece of sheet metal under the existing tiles. If you can't replace it with a spare shingle or asphalt tile, then call a roofing company. You have already saved yourself some of the hourly rate by searching out the leak for yourself.

However, if it really is the gravity of your roof that is causing your problem, the only solution is to increase the pitch when you get the chance.

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