It’s every homeowner’s nightmare. A storm rolls in and your house is taking a real battering, but you’re inside warm and happy with the heating on. Then you hear dripping water upstairs. You go and investigate, only to discover a steadily growing pool of water, and a tell-tale damp patch on the ceiling. Is it the pipes or the central heating? Turning off the water, you wait a while only to discover the wet patch is still growing.
You’ve got a leaking roof, and with the bad weather showing no sign of abating you need to act quickly to prevent the damage getting even worse.
Contact a roofing company
While you set about stopping the problem getting any worse you should contact a flat roofing specialist. Many offer an emergency call-out service to come and make the roof watertight before a full repair can be carried out. Be aware, however, that during storms they are likely to be receiving lots of calls, and health and safety regulations mean they are unlikely to be able to do any work until the worse of the storm has passed. If you can, delegate the task of finding a roofer while you get on with sorting out the immediate problem.
Catch the leak
A passing shower is one thing, sustained heavy rain is quite another. If the rain has set in, the potential for a leak to cause damage is considerable. The first line of defence against water damage is a suitable container in which to catch the water. If you can do so safely, you should access your roof space to check the state of your leaking roof. Position the container under the drip to catch as much water as you can. If the rain is heavy, you’ll need to keep emptying the container, so it can make sense to find two. Have one container in place while you carefully empty the full one. If you’re catching water in the attic, make sure that the bucket is supported. A full bucket is weighty and could cause damage to your ceiling.
Finding the source
The source of the leak can sometimes be tricky to locate. Water can travel a great distance before you become aware of it. You need to be confident that the roof really is the cause of the issue. There are other culprits for household leaks, such as plumbing, heating units or even just clogged up guttering. Do some exploration and investigation. Remember that where water enters through a roof and where it enters through a ceiling may not be in alignment.
If all leaks were straightforward, they would be less of an emergency. Problems can occur when rather than dripping through the ceiling into your well-positioned bucket, water is instead pooling, then dispersing as it looks for escape routes. On the one hand, this makes the problem appear worse than it really is. On the other, it’s potentially causing serious damage elsewhere.
Examine the ceiling for a bulge and place your container underneath it, then proceed to make a small hole in the ceiling to release the water. This should prevent pressure building up and direct the flow of water in a way that minimises potential damage.
Check your electrics
If your electrical wiring is present in or around the leak area it can present problems that you really shouldn’t ignore. When an electrical leak occurs near an electrical fixture, outlet or a junction box the potential for an electrical hazard increases. A steady drip of water onto an attic floor can seep down into light fittings. It can drip down into walls and get into sockets.
If you suspect the water is getting close to electrical fittings you should turn off the electricity. When water and electrics mix it’s a job for the professionals, so immediately contact an emergency electrician.
Stop the leak
Catching water in a container and carrying water down from your roof space are clearly not viable long-term strategies for keeping your home dry. You need to try and stop the leak with a temporary strategy. In the roof interior you can apply roofing tape or cement. This is a quick fix and by no means entirely fool proof, but it can hold the line while you wait for a proper repair.
A tarpaulin is the quickest and easiest way to stop the leak if you are confident about climbing onto the exterior of your roof. Exercise extreme caution when going on your roof, and only do so if it’s safe to do so.
A leaking roof can be a deeply stressful and unpleasant experience. But it’s important to stay calm and approach the problem methodically. Minimise damage, reduce risk, and take temporary measures.
At Sureseal, we create and maintain high-performance, low-maintenance flat roof solutions that give homeowners confidence even in the most extreme of storms. Why not ask how we can help?