Vancouver gets its fair share of extreme weather conditions especially during the winter months – the worst time to have an emergency of any kind, but especially a roofing emergency. Leaks are more likely to happen when your home is bombarded by heavy rain, snowstorms, strong winds or hail.
A leaky roof is one of the worst situations that a homeowner has to face. Immediate intervention is critical since water damage can directly affect the stability of the entire structure, as well as destroy furniture, flooring, appliances.
In the midst of a severe storm, a professional roofing contractor may not be immediately available because, let’s face it, your home is probably not the only one affected by the storm. What can a homeowner do to prevent further damage at such a time? Emergency roof repairs can help to minimize water damage until a roofing contractor is available to permanently and correctly handle the repairs.
If there is an unfortunate circumstance where weather conditions do cause a leak in your roof the most important thing you can do is stop the flow of water. Placing buckets under the leak can help prevent damage to flooring.
In the midst of a storm, you could easily slip, be swept away by the wind, or even struck by lightning. If you have experience with roofs, you can climb up to the roof and look for the damage, but don’t try and fix it. Wait until a professional is available. When and if you do go up onto the roof, clear away any snow, puddles of water, or stagnant water forming. If left unattended this can cause more damage and can cost you even more.
Next, you can try to locate the exact source of the leak. This may be tricky but both externally and internal inspection should provide enough clues to help you figure that out. If you have a skylight or chimney, look around the edges first as those areas could be the culprit.
Aside from skylights and chimneys, roof vents are one of the most common causes of roof leaks. Air vents are used to allow outside air to enter into attics and other ventilation spaces. Rusty and cracked vent pipe collars around their base allow the water to first pool around and then seep through the interior walls of your home.
Occasionally, vent pipe leaks can also occur at the collar surrounding the base of the vent pipe where it breaks through the surface of the roofing material. When this occurs, rainwater can seep in between the rubber boot and the vent pipe and accumulate in your home, causing damage. If the rubber boot collar is cracked or damaged, it will need to be replaced. Talk to a roofing contractor about this as it’s not something you can fix yourself.
If you have determined that the issue isn’t a skylight, chimney, or roof vent, then you need to inspect the attic to see if you can find the source of the leak.
If you are able to find the leak plug it if you can. Use plastic sheets, or tarps as temporary methods until you can get a professional to come and look at the roof. A good method is to enclose a piece of wood — a two by four is an ideal size – in an end section of plastic sheeting. Wrap the board several times to ensure it will stay covered. Secure the plastic to the wood with staples.
Lay the wood down on the roof and place the plastic sheeting over the leaky area. Wrap a second two by four in the other end of the plastic sheeting. Do not staple or nail the wood planks or plastic to the roof, as you might risk creating more leaks or other damage.
Contact a roofing company as soon as possible and explain your problem. Let the customer service representative know if your roof is made of shingles, tiles, wood shakes, metal, or if you have a flat roof. This information will help the contractor know what repairs will be required and send out the most knowable expert.
With the prolonged presence of snow in Metro Vancouver, many homeowners may be at risk of ice damming and not even know it. Ice damming occurs when a thin layer of ice pools at the edge of your roof, preventing melting snow from draining off. Ice is heavy and can cause severe damage to your roof. In order to prevent ice damming, you can purchase a roof rake. This is basically a sideways shovel with a long handle that you use to reach up and remove snow from your roof’s edge before it turns to ice. When the weather drops, you should use this rake at least once a week to clear the ice.
When snow is allowed to accumulate on your roof, the heat from inside your home can cause it to melt. However, if the outside temperature is still below freezing, the snow will instead turn to ice. When ice develops around the edges of your roof, it can quickly build up into increasingly large blocks of ice or ice dams.
If too much ice is allowed to accumulate on your roof, it can damage the shingles and lead to leaks and water damage. In severe cases, roofs have been known to collapse under the weight of ice dams. However, such instances are rare, especially in Vancouver where the weather doesn’t stay below freezing for long. With the proper precautions and routine roof maintenance, you can prevent ice dams from taking a toll on your home.
If you are worried about a potential problem in your roof, give us a call for an inspection. Our expert professionals can quickly diagnose any problem and perform roof maintenance to save you the trouble of dealing with an emergency. Don’t let things become critical before you give us a call.
Originally published June 17th 2017, updated on March 19th 2021