Calgary has some of the most severe weather in the country. Hailstorms, strong winds, blizzards - you name it, we’ve got it. That means it’s common to need roofing contractors in Calgary.
A leaky roof is a serious problem. Water damage, rodent infestations, and poor insulation are just a few of the issues you might experience when your roof is damaged.
We’re here to help - you’re going to learn how to find where your roof is leaking from, the problems which are most likely to cause a leaky roof, and what you can do to fix things up.
You don’t have to do any of this yourself, either. Getting up on a roof is dangerous, and some of these fixes require some pretty serious handiwork. If at any point you feel uncomfortable or out of your element, give us a call. We’ll fix your roof for you.
With that out of the way, and without further ado, let’s get to fixing.
How to find a roof leak
Finding a roof leak isn’t complicated - but it is time consuming. Roof leaks tend to happen around protrusions or projections. These are the structures that come out of your roof, like plumbing vents and chimneys. While these areas are where the leaks start, water rarely travels in a perfectly straight line. You may see stains or water dripping several feet away from the actual source of the leak.
Start by looking inside your home - more specifically, in your attic. Take a flashlight, put on protective gear, grab a friend, and try to find signs of a leak. These signs include:
Once you’ve found signs of the leak, try to trace its passage back up to your roof. At the best of times, you’ll be able to see light shining through holes or gaps near the leak. These are, most likely, the areas that need to be fixed.
At the worst of times, you’ll see signs of a leak, but you’ll be unable to trace its source. In these scenarios, one person should go up on the roof (if they are confident they can stay safe) and spray the roof with a hose. The other person stays in the attic and watches for dripping water. When water starts dripping down, you’ve found the source of the leak. The person with the hose should start by concentrating on the areas around protrusions.
- Water stains
- Dripping water
- Frozen nails (sometimes called “flashers”)
- Deteriorated insulation. Do not disturb insulation if you don’t know what your home is insulated with - it could be asbestos, which must be removed by a professional. You’ll also need to wear a respirator when moving certain types of insulation.
How to fix a roof leak
Now that you’ve found the source of the leak, it’s time to get to fixing it. To do this, you’ll need to be confident in your ability to stay on your roof for a long time, and that you can remove and replace shingles. You may want to get some spare shingles in case any get damaged during the repair process.
You’ll need different supplies depending on the leak you want to repair. For this article, we’re going to assume you have asphalt shingles. You’ll need a flat pry bar to remove the shingles, a hammer, nails (if you don’t want to reuse the old nails), and asphalt roof cement (to seal the asphalt shingles).
Plumbing vent boots and roof vents
The bases of plumbing vents and roof vents are both covered with protective material in order to prevent - you guessed it - leaks.
When these bases (called boots) are damaged, leaks are common. Check around your plumbing vents and roof vents to see if there are any cracks in rubber boots. Similarly, you can check for rust, corrosion, or damage near metal boots. The boots may also have lifted away from the roof.
In any of these cases, you’ll need to replace the boot. Remove the shingles surrounding the boot, remove the boot, install the new boot, then reattach (or replace) the shingles around it, making sure to use high-quality asphalt roof cement.
Old mounting holes
For most Calgarians, satellite TV is a thing of the past - but the nail holes made during your satellite’s installation are here to stay. That is, unless you repair them.
Old mounting holes are a common source of leaks. They can be repaired by replacing the shingles. Small holes can often be repaired with little more than roof cement.
Step flashing is easy to spot. It’s usually used around chimneys and on the walls that intersect the roof. It’s called step flashing because it looks like stairs, or like a capital L on its side.
This type of flashing is probably the most common source of roof leaks. It’s often not installed correctly. It’s also usually made of thin metal; this means step flashing can crack quite easily. Step flashing is essential, but it’s prone to damage - especially if it wasn’t installed right!
You’ll need to remove the shingles surrounding the flashing, the flashing itself, and damaged siding, then replace everything. This is a very complicated and technical procedure, and should only be handled by professional roofers.
Dormers and walls
Dormers are roofed structures that project from pitched roofs - basically a roof-on-a-roof scenario. They often contain windows. They’re a common cause of leaks, because they’re difficult to maintain - they have walls, a roof, and windows, but they typically get a lot less care than the rest of your home’s exterior.
It’s common to see problems with caulking - if caulking is dried or cracked, dig it out with a putty knife and replace it with silicone caulk. You may also notice that there’s siding that’s missing or rotted - replace it if you have the know-how.
The most common cause of leaks around dormers is, unfortunately, poorly installed flashing. The flashing used on dormer walls is most often step flashing - you’ll need a professional roofer to replace it.
When you’re lucky, damage to your roof from hailstorms or other inclement weather is minimal - a few damaged or lifted shingles. In these cases, the shingles just need to be replaced - but if that’s the only problem, it usually won’t cause a major leak.
More often than not, roof damage that’s severe enough to cause leaks extends beyond the shingles, and the structural integrity of your roof will be threatened. This is not a DIY scenario - if there are large holes in your roof, call us. When damage isn’t localized to certain sections of the roof, you may need to replace the whole thing.
In the meantime, you can put a tarp over the damaged section of roof to minimize further water damage.
Skylights are notorious for leaking. That probably comes as no surprise - they are, after all, windows that have been installed into your roof. When properly installed, they’re far less prone to problems, but even then, wear and tear can cause them to leak.
This is another problem that’s best left to the pros. The leaks are often caused by a failure in the rubber seal - it will need to be replaced. While you wait for the replacement seal, you can use high-quality caulk to reduce water damage.
Replacing the flashing and shingles around a skylight is not something that can be done yourself, either. There are other times where the entire skylight wasn’t properly installed, and will need to be replaced.
In short, any skylight-related problems must be handled by professional roofers.
Some gutter problems are incredibly easy to fix. If you’re someone who is okay with getting up on the roof and replacing shingles, you should have no difficulties with the most common gutter problems.
You need to clean out your gutters regularly, or water will accumulate, potentially leaking into your home. Get on a ladder, get some heavy duty gardening gloves, and clean out the gunk. You should also clean out snow and ice jams in the winter - keep in mind that some gutter ice jams are caused by poor attic insulation.
The caulking in the corners of your gutters can crack and dry out - in these circumstances, it’s a simple matter of removing the old caulking and replacing it with high-quality silicone caulking.
When your gutter has sustained too much physical damage, or has ripped away from your home, you’ll need to replace it. That’s a job best handled by professionals.
Let a professional handle the job
Roof repair isn’t easy. You need the supplies and the know-how, and when the job isn’t done properly, you can end up with more damage than you started with. As you just read, there are a lot of roofing problems that should only be handled by professionals.
Damage to your home is scary enough - but it’s not the worst thing. The worst possibility is that you get up on your roof, you fall, and you seriously hurt yourself. It’s not worth the risk - even if you are experienced in DIY projects.
Call us instead. We have the expertise, and we have the tools. We’ll find the source of your leak, and we’ll repair your roof properly. Safety is our top priority, so we use guardrails, toe boards, and Personal Fall Arrest systems wherever necessary.
Martens Contracting is locally owned and operated - in other words, we’re Calgarians who help Calgarians. We know the weather can change in the blink of an eye, and we’re ready for it. We know you want your roof to be repaired as soon as possible, without incident, and we’re here for you.
So don’t risk life and limb only to end up with roof repairs that don’t last. Call Martens Contracting - we’ll take care of everything for you.