How To Repair And Maintain Roofs To Avoid Leaks

The roof, gutters, and downspouts together perform a major job in protecting the house against the deteriorating effects of rain and snowfall. It is of crucial importance to the exterior and interior condition of the building to observe proper installation and maintenance of these “watersheds.”

The roof, gutters, and downspouts together perform a major job in protecting the house against the deteriorating effects of rain and snowfall. It is of crucial importance to the exterior and interior condition of the building to observe proper installation and maintenance of these “watersheds.”

Inspect the roofs of your buildings frequently. Check for breaks, missing shingles, choked gutters, damaged flashing, and defective mortar joints at chimneys, parapets, and coping. Repair defects promptly. Even small defects can result in damage to the sheathing, framing, and interior finish. You can probably repair small defects yourself.

Large defects or damages should be repaired by professional workmen. An inexperienced person may do more harm than good.

Locate Leaks

As soon as a wet spot appears on a wall or ceiling, inspect the roof to determine the cause. The location of the spot may indicate the trouble. If it is near a chimney or exterior wall, look for defective or narrow flashing or loose mortar joints. On flat roofs, look for choked downspouts or an accumulation of water or snow higher than the flashing. On sloping roofs look for corroded, loose, or displaced flashing and rotten shingles at valleys and at the junctions of dormers with the roof.

Here are other causes of leaks:

1. Holes in the roof covering – generally the cause on plain roofs.

2. Loose or defective flashing around cupolas and around the plumbing vent pipes.

3. Gutters arranged so that when they are choked they overflow into the house.

4. A ridge of ice along the eaves that backs up melting snow under the shingles.

5. Water leaking from downspouts splashes against a wall and enters through a defect.

Shingles

Replace missing shingles with the same kind of shingles or a piece of rust-resistant metal. In an emergency, make the temporary repair with metal cut from a tin can. If metal is used, paint it on both sides. Slip it under the shingle in the row above. Be careful not to dislodge sound shingles.

Metal Roofing

Close small holes in steel or tin roofing with a drop of metal solder. Solder a patch of the same kind of metal over large holes. If soldering tools are not handy, seal small holes with elastic roofer’s cement. Paste a piece of canvass over large holes, using paint as the adhesive. Apply several coats of paint over the patch.

Close small holes in aluminum roofing with a sheet-metal screw and neoprene washer or with an aluminum-pigmented caulking compound. Holes up to 3/8 inch in diameter can be closed also with cold solder. Holes over ½ inch in diameter should be covered with an aluminum patch. Coat the patch with aluminum-pigmented caulking mastic, and fasten it with sheet metal screws.

New short-sheets may be used to repair large defects in metal roofing. If the defect is near the bottom of the old sheet, remove several fasteners, slip the new sheet under the damaged area, and refasten the old sheet in the same holes. If the defect is near the top, follow the same procedure, but place the new sheet over the damaged area.

Flashing

Repairs to flashing should be made at the time the roofing is repaired or when inspection shows defects.

Fasten loose flashing securely in place and fill the joint with roofer’s cement. If the joint is wide, oakum rolled in roofer’s cement may be caulked in the joint.

Replace badly corroded metal in open valleys. Closed valleys are harder to repair. Where leaks occur, try to slip a piece of metal – a square piece folded on the diagonal –up under the shingles. If this cannot be done readily, call in a roofer.


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