Fixing a Small Roof Leak: Methods That Go Beyond Caulking

    

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Problems with your roof aren't always apparent until it's too late. Of course, when you start to see water stains on your ceiling, you'll know you have a leak. Even a small leak can quickly cascade into a bigger problem if you don't consider it an immediate concern. If you think you can repair that tiny leak yourself with caulking, you may find yourself in big trouble later on.

Not all roof leaks have quick fixes. In addition, a major concern is finding the source of the leak in the first place. Only a certified roofing inspector has the proper knowledge and equipment to scope out the origin of the problem.

Attempting to do this yourself, almost always leads to overlooking the true source. Not finding the source will lead to expensive problems down the road. These problems can even pose a health risk for your family and include dangerous mold, rotted framing, deterioration of your insulation and major ceiling damage.

The best way to track down a leak is to go into your attic with a flashlight to look for water stains or signs of mold. Roof penetrations also provide evidence on the leak location. Once you find the general area where you think the leak is, a combination of removing shingles and infrared thermal cameras will reveal the exact site of the leak.

Getting your roof repaired may require specialized techniques, depending on the issue. Call a certified roofer to fix a small roof leak who will take pictures of the problem and provide a detailed report.


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Leaks Through Vent Boots

Many roofs have vent boots made of cheap plastic or metal. The bases on these boots are sometimes made of the same cheap material, leaving them vulnerable to deterioration. Over time, this deterioration could create a small openings allowing water to seep through your roof.

Problems with vent boots are a common source for small leaks, and it's not fixable by simply placing caulking in the spot. In many cases, the vent boot itself might be fine, though the base isn't. Missing nails around the base can also cause a leak.

Using rubber washered screws, which are typically applied to metal roofs, is a good solution that you can talk to your roofing company about. Your professional roofer will also remove surrounding shingles around the spot to amend the problem. If your pipe boot is beyond repair we recomnd installing a lifetime pipe collar for complete coverage in the future. 

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Plastic Roof Vents

Plastic roof vents are another site that can cause leaks. Along with leaks surrounding vent boots, these will require more than just a simple caulk repair. Cracked housing around plastic vents frequently cause water to seep into your roof. While caulking may provide a temporary fix, it never lasts long in these cases.

You will likely have to replace the entire vent for complete repair. Similar to above, missing nails around the base can also cause a major problem. Rubber washered screws are a great item to replace the base nails with, and prevent this problem in the future.

Shingles around the vent usually need careful removal to get the screws in place. Your roofer will assess the situation and get your problem fixed as soon as possible.

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Rusted Step Flashing

If you're not familiar with what step flashing is, it's typically used along roofing edges like chimneys and walls to protect against water coming in. It's used to channel water over shingles so that everything drains appropriately. As with many roofing materials, its lifespan is about 10 years.

After typical wear, step flashing may rust or crack. This damage is usually exaggerated when exposed to extreme weather. When damage occurs, the flashing needs to be replaced as soon as possible. To replace step flashing, your roofer will remove shingles and pry all siding loose to remove the old flashing. Never attempt to do this on your own as you can seriously damage your home's exterior, leading to potential damage to your home's interior. If you attempt to apply a waterproofing sealant on your own, keep in mind that no sealant lasts more than a few weeks before leaks will reappear.


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Old Mounting Holes in Your Roof

Have you had a satellite dish or antenna mounted on your roof in the last decade? The mounting brackets likely left small holes in your shingles that you never noticed before. These small holes can easily cause small leaks, which you may only notice after seeing water spots on your ceiling.

You may feel tempted to climb on your roof and simply fill these small holes with caulking. As mentioned above, this doesn't hold long. A roofer will likely have to place flashing over the small holes for repair, depending on where the holes are. Oftentimes, you will have to replace a few shingles to fully solve the issue.

What's important is to have a certified roofer thoroughly inspect your roof since old mounting holes are often too small to notice.

Dormer Wall Issues

For homes with a second floor, dormer walls are a common source of small roof leaks. Dormers channel water into corner boards, window edges, and siding. When the caulking is worn around these spots, water can quickly cause major problems, especially when you have frequent wind-driven rainstorms.

What's sometimes misleading is that caulking around these spots can appear to look intact when it really isn't. Your professional roofer will have to use a putty knife to make sure the caulking is truly sealed. If they suspect the caulking isn't any good, they will completely remove it and replace it with something more solid like latex caulk.

They will also look at your siding to see if it needs replacing. Siding can easily get cracked or begin to rot when your roof is not repelling water properly. In addition, flashing may need replacing in spots around dormers.

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As you can see, small leaks aren't always simple jobs. Here at BRAX Roofing, we're here to help you find the source of your leak and provide repairs when necessary.

Contact us if you're experiencing a roof leak. Our experienced staff will schedule inspections and repairs on your schedule.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE ROOF INSPECTION TODAY

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About The Author

Ben Matthews is a managing partner at BRAX Roofing, a multi-faceted company that focuses on residential and commercial roofing throughout Maryland and Washington DC. Having obtained the highest certifications in roofing from leading manufacturers around the country, Ben takes pride in providing BRAX Roofing customers with top-quality exterior home improvement service and expertise.