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It's Time to Stop Ignoring That Leak

December has arrived, and you notice a small amount of water damage on your living room ceiling. Your husband says "Honey, it can wait until spring ….. were done with the rain anyway". Something tells you that as usual, he believes that he knows more about home repair than he really does. Your gut instinct tells you that you need to do something now, despite all of his confidence about waiting till spring.

Well, you gut is right. While you may very well not have any more rain this year if you live in a colder climate like we do her at Reilly Painting and Contracting, if your roof is compromised in such a way that water is able to come in, you will certainly have more problems if you wait.

I would like to take a minute to discuss a few of the common sources of roof leaks. There are essentially two types of leaks. Those that leak when it rains, and those that leak only after a big snow storm. Rain type leaks indicate that the integrity of the roof has been compromised. Occasional a branch or an animal penetrate the roof material, but more often roof leaks occur in valleys, around chimneys or other pipes that protrude through your roof system. Anywhere you see "flashing" is a good place to start looking for the most obvious signs. Another common type of roof leak occurs when the wood behind your gutters (called the fascia board "rots out and your gutters, filled with debris overflow and send water in through the rafters.

Ice related damage occurs when weather conditions are extremely cold and snowfall is excessive. Essentially what happens is that warm air in your house rises, melts the snow on the roof and when the resulting water gets to the roof line (where it is cold) it refreezes. over the course of the day this thaw-refreeze cycle creates what is termed an "ice dam", essentially forcing the melt water up the roof where it gets under your shingles and pours into your house.

If you have water coming in your house and you are reading this article, you should probably not try to repair the roof yourself. Roofing is dangerous for the average homeowner. How do you pick someone to repair the leak? There are basically two choices. Hire a "roofer" or a general contractor. If you plan to work with a roofer, be sure that their business focuses on repairs, not on installing new roofs. Most roofers can easily learn how to remove and install roofing. Diagnosing leaks and making repairs is a whole different story. It takes skill, experience and a good deal of intellectual skill to good at repair work.

The other option, to hire a general contractor (GC) I will argument is the better way to go. While the majority of leaks are caused by roof related problems, this is not always the case. water damage can be caused by faulty mortar between your bricks, a leaky pipe, a cracked exhaust pipe, condensation as well as a host of other reasons. If you hire the roofer and the problem is not roof related, you then have to call another tradesman, pay more money and still may or may not find the leak. By hiring a GC, they have a staff that includes plumbers, electricians, painters, carpenters, roofers, etc…and not only will they be able to find the leak, but they will be able to repair the interior damage. You may pay a bit more, but it is certainly much more convenient to have on company do it all.

No matter who you hire, a good roofer should water test repairs to insure that they fixed the problem before the hand you a bill. Do not be alarmed if they want to make a hole in the ceiling to help locate the source of the leak. Lastly, water follows the path of least resistance, so do not worry if the are that the roofer says he repaired is not directly over where the water came in.

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