Water infiltration in your home’s roof is never a pleasant surprise, especially during the winter! Unfortunately, this problem affects many homeowners during major temperature fluctuations.
In fact, a rise in temperature after a few snowfalls can cause some damage to your roof and result in water infiltration.
Imagine the scenario: you are about to go to bed in the middle of December when you realize that your ceiling is completely bloated. What to do? Here are the steps to take to correct this problem.
1. Evacuate the water
If there is water pooling on your ceiling, evacuate the roof water by piercing a hole in the area about the size of a 10-cent coin with a screwdriver. However, before proceeding, make sure to clear away all the furniture, place blankets on the floor, and place enough drip pans underneath to avoid any damage.
If you are hesitant about piercing your ceiling, tell yourself that this is a common procedure for letting water out to prevent the spread of damage. All wet or water-retaining materials should be removed as soon as possible to allow the roof to dry properly.
2. Inform your insurance provider
Once the problem is under control, it is very important to call your insurance provider quickly to notify them of the situation. Remember, however, that your insurance will often pay to repair the damage, but never reimburse you for the cause of the infiltration. In other words, you will be covered for damage to the floor, ceiling or furniture. However, you will have to pay the costs to fix any roofing issues.
3. Find the source of the problem (and take photos!)
If possible, call a few friends for help, expand the ceiling opening (minimum 4 feet by 4 feet) and remove all wet materials. This way, you will be able to discover the water infiltration point.
However, it is very important not to remove any structural element, like rafters that support your roof.
You can normally remove:
- vapour barrier
- paper and cardboard
- insulation material
Also, it is always necessary to take photos before the removal of materials to document your actions for the insurance company if necessary. If you are unsure about removing items from the roof, remember that you can never be blamed for removing them in an emergency situation, such as a leaking roof.
This is the best procedure to follow to completely evacuate water from your roof. This allows you to avoid issues like mould, air contamination or fungus in your home.
4. Seal the opening in your ceiling
Of course, you must then close the opening to avoid losing the heat from your house in the middle of winter. Close the opening with a sheet of polyethylene film and adhesive tape to properly seal the space.
Then all you have to do is wait for the insurance agent to come for an inspection.
5. Investigate the causes of water infiltration
Try to discover what could have caused this water infiltration in the roof. One of the most common causes is the formation of an ice dam on the roof edges, often caused by poor ventilation or poor attic insulation.
When the snow on your roof melts, it is then blocked by this ice dam. Because snow melts faster than ice, a pool of water can accumulate on the roof.
Although the asphalt shingles on the roof are designed to handle a little water, they can’t handle that much water! Think of waterproof cell phones: they can be splashed a bit, but will never survive being subjected to water pressure, such as scuba diving. The same principle applies to the water on your roof.
Here are a few other possible causes of water infiltration:
- A poorly sealed construction joint that provides insufficient waterproofness, which promotes water infiltration;
- A rarer cause: condensation issues. If there are holes in your roof, the warm, humid air in your home is lost in the attic and cools. During cold weather, the resulting condensation turns into ice inside your roof. With the return of the warm sun, this ice will melt and cause water damage to the roof.
6. Hire an independent expert to find the source of the problem
Even if you think you know where the problem lies, it is recommended that you call an independent expert. Choose a member of a professional order such as the Ordre des technologues, the Ordre des ingénieurs or the Ordre des architectes. This expert will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis of the cause of the infiltration. In addition, hiring them gives you recourse in the event of a misdiagnosis, since their professional order governs their practice and they are bound to properly inform and protect you.
Remember that this professional may have to make holes in the walls or ceiling during their investigation.
7. Contact an experienced entrepreneur
Roof repairs will always be necessary after water infiltration from the roof. Once the cause has been determined by the expert, it is then important to hire a contractor to help you repair your roof.