As well as spotting water leaks in your home, there are a few different ways to find out if your roof is leaking. Water coming through your ceiling could be caused by a number of possible leaks, but if it’s raining inside when it’s raining outside, the chances are your roof is leaking.
Signs that your roof might be leaking
Water stains in the loft
If you can see wet patches in your loft (or see daylight where there should be tiles) there’s a good chance your roof is the problem. Other clues could be a musty, damp smell, or water damage to whatever you have stored up there.
A water stain on an upstairs ceiling
Don’t jump to conclusions just yet – if you have a water tank in your loft, double check if the leak’s coming from there.
Damp stains, slime or moss on your outside walls
If water is getting in between the roof and the walls, it may only be visible from the outside.
Mould or mouldy smelling air
Damp has quite a strong smell – if you’ve ever found a swimming bag that’s been put away with the towel still in it you’ll know exactly what to sniff for! And if there’s mould growing on your walls or mushrooms sprouting from your carpet, it’s time to call for help.
Is it the roof, or is it something else?
If you’re not sure whether your roof is to blame or something else is causing the water leak in your home, why not take a look at our blog What to do if water is leaking through your ceiling to see if you can identify the source of your leak?
Your roof is leaking – here’s what to do next
Once you’re (pretty) sure your roof is the problem, what are your next steps? Follow our tips for getting it sorted:
1. Do what you can to contain the water damage with a container underneath any dripping water.
2. If the water leak has been caught in the ceiling and is threatening to burst through at any point, act fast by performing a controlled release.
First, make sure you have a container ready to catch the water before you start! It’s also a good idea to cover the surrounding areas with plastic, protecting everything around you in case you get more of a flood than a trickle.
When you’re ready, use a small screwdriver to puncture a hole in the bulge and the water will start to come through. Remember, you can always make the hole bigger if you need to, but if it’s too big you could end up getting soaked!
Getting the trapped water out will help minimise the damage and reduce the chances of the ceiling collapsing from the weight of water.
3. If you haven’t already, protect as much of the affected space as possible from further water damage. If electrical items are wet, make sure you switch off the related circuits in your consumer unit before you unplug anything.
4. Decide if you’re going to make an insurance claim. This is likely to be for repairing the roof and repairing or replacing like-for-like anything that has been damaged by the water leaks. If you do want to claim it’s a good idea to contact your insurers before you do anything else.
They may ask for photos or video of the affected areas and might also have approved companies they use for repairs.
5. If your leaking roof is due to wear and tear, your insurance providers may not accept the claim. If it’s become damaged as the result of outside events like storm debris or falling trees you will probably be covered.
If you aren’t making a claim through your insurance company…
6. Your next step is to find a roofer. Many people ask friends for recommendations, or you could use one of the many trade post-a-job websites that are now available.
Whoever you choose, it will be a big help if you can tell them what’s at the root of the problem – water leaks between roof and walls, missing tiles or even blocked gutters forcing water under the eaves.
It’s not a good idea to climb up onto the roof yourself: tiles can be slippery and it feels much higher when you’re on the roof than it does standing on the ground looking up!
After your roof is fixed…
7. Make sure your house is fully dried out by ventilating it as much as possible. Fans could help speed things up, along with dehumidifiers and open doors and windows. Sticking the heating on and closing all the windows will result in a steam bath-style situation and you could actually end up creating more damp in your home.
8. You may need to have other repairs, like replacing soggy ceilings or getting new guttering. While the thought of yet more disruption may be disheartening, grin and bear it if you can – you’re almost there!
Frequently asked questions
What should I do if my roof starts leaking in heavy rain?
First, try to contain the water leak. Use containers – large pans, buckets, even a wheelbarrow – that you can empty out and reuse.
Then you need to either contact your insurance company if you want to make a claim, or start searching for a local roofer who can come out and take a look.
How do I fix a leaking roof from the inside?
You might not be able to – it depends on what’s causing the leak. If you have any missing tiles your best bet is to get a qualified roofer to take a look. Sometimes putty or roof tar is suggested but this type of fix is probably only going to be a short term solution.
If the liner is torn or missing, patching it up or replacing it won’t make much difference – the liner is there to keep the interior dry whilst the roof is first being laid, not act as an extra waterproof layer. If your roof tiles are fitted correctly you shouldn’t need anything else.
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