5 Steps for When You Discover a Leak in Your Roof

Columbus Chamber
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Member Insights by UB Commercial 

A leaky roof can become a problem during any season as water from rain, or melted snow finds a way into your business. Once you notice water dripping onto the floor, or, even more commonly, a spreading dark stain on the ceiling, you should act quickly to minimize the water damage and accompanying costs. Here are five steps to take to manage the effects of a leaky roof.

Grab a Bucket

A dark stain on the ceiling is a sign that water is building up behind it, so prepare in case some manages to push through. Place a bucket beneath the leak to catch any water before it hits the floor, especially if water is already leaking from the ceiling. It may also be a good idea to place some rags or towels around the bucket to catch any water that spills out.

Finally, be sure to empty the bucket from time to time depending on how fast the water is coming in. If the bucket is filling up quickly, then you should find a second bucket to replace the first one with while you empty it.

Protect Your Valuables

Do a quick inspection of the room and check what objects are susceptible to water damage, such as furniture or electronics. Cover furniture in plastic or tarps to protect it, and try to move electronics into a different area to prevent damage. Try to be fast with this step, so the bucket doesn’t overflow, and so you can get back to mitigating the harm the leak will cause to your home.

Drain the Water From Your Ceiling

This step is another area where the towels and rags will come in handy. As stated in step 1, the dark spot spreading across the ceiling is holding water behind it. If the water in your ceiling does not find a way out, then the ceiling could sag or collapse, potentially costing you thousands of dollars to repair. Stop this event from happening by grabbing a drill or screw driver, standing on a chair, ladder, or stool, and punch some holes in your ceiling to let the water adequately drain.

At this point, you might be asking, why, in your attempt to prevent damage to your ceiling, are you damaging your roof? The answer is that it is less expensive and invasive to patch a few holes than to replace the ceiling in the case of a collapse. The benefits of punching a few holes far outweigh the potential costs.

Find the Source

Wait until after the storm is gone and your ceiling is drained before leaving it alone to inspect the roof. Finding the hole in the roof that let the water in the first place is easiest to do when the sun is out. Go into your attic and turn off the lights to see where the sun is shining through to find where the water is entering your home.

The reason for checking the attic is that water often makes its way into your home through a hole or defective shingle before spreading through the trusses and supports in your home to the discolored spot.

Temporarily Fix the Leak Until a Professional is Available

Be careful with this next step because it will involve going out onto your roof. Make sure the roof is dry enough for your feet grip properly, and that your balance is effective enough to maneuver around it.

Begin by bringing a tarp up to the ceiling with you and start rolling it out a few feet away from the leak. Continue to unroll it until the fabric is flat against the roof. Finally, weigh the tarp down with pieces of wood to prevent it from flying off. Stable the tarp to the wood if necessary, but do not nail the wood into the roof, as this can create more pathways for future leaks.

Finally, call a professional to come and repair the water damage, patch any hole you drilled for water drainage, and to seal up the hole in your roof.