You have a leaky roof but now what? How do you fix it and where do you find the money to do so? The first thing is not to panic. Take a deep breath and follow these steps and all your questions will be answered.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Leaks?
Whether or not homeowners insurance covers leaks in your roof, and any resulting damage, depends on what caused the leak. If, for instance, a windstorm or snowstorm damaged your roof, your insurance would likely cover repairs or replacement. But if a maintenance issue like wear and tear is the cause, then you’d likely be responsible for the costs.
Being a homeowner means staying abreast with repairs, especially when it comes to your home’s first line of defense — the roof. If a tree falls in a brutal storm and careens through your shingles, it’s good to know someone’s got your back to help cover leaks and resulting repairs. That’s why it’s important to read over your homeowners policy and consult your insurer so that you know what’s covered by your homeowners insurance.
How to Find a Roof Leak
One of the most common causes of leaks are from anything that goes through the roof—plumbing, chimney vents an, skylights are common culprits. Over time, the flashing and other seals around these items can weaken, come loose or erode allowing rain and snow to seep in. Roof leaks can be caused by more obvious signs as well, such as missing or aging shingles, holes or clogged gutters.
Flashing is a thin strip of metal that is used over the joints in the roof to prevent water and snow from seeping in and causing damage. Flashing will vary depending on what type and style of roof that you have, but it’s commonly installed around chimneys, skylights, pipes and dormer windows. It is also installed in the “valleys” of the roof and where any part of the roof meets a wall.
To see if these items are the source of your leak, examine plastic and rubber boots and vents for cracks and metal ones for broken seams. Rubber and plastic boots and vents often rot away or tear from age or bad weather, while metal ones tend to corrode or rust. Check to see if there are pulled, missing or loose nails around the base or where it attaches to the roof
The majority of residential homes in Vancouver are covered in asphalt shingles, which over the years lose moisture and protective coatings, causing them to curl, crack or disintegrate. Contraction and expansion caused by changes in weather as well as years of the sun’s harsh rays can damage the materials that hold asphalt shingles together.
Roof shingles hold up much better when you are proactive in maintaining them. Preserving your roof’s shingles can add to the life of your roof as well as make it last longer.
Many people still live in houses that do not have capped or covered gutters. Gutters are often an overlooked cause of leaks, and may even cause basements to flood. Older and open gutters can get clogged with debris like leaves, branches or tree needles, not to mention birds finding them an easy place to build their nests. Gummed up gutters impede rainwater and melting snow from traveling away from your roof and foundation.
Another common cause is upper roof gutters draining into a lower roof. This can cause the lower roof to become over-saturated, causing leaks. Make sure the downspout on your house goes to another gutter or down to the ground.
The rubber seal around the skylight glass can dry out and crack, thereby making the skylight vulnerable to leaks. Like other items on your roof, check for cracks or tears in the flashing around the top and sides of the skylight. Skylights that are poorly fitted or installed without proper pitch may be fine for a while, but eventually they are almost guaranteed to develop leaks.
How Your Home Insurance Company Can Help
Several home insurance companies offer policyholders access to a network of approved and qualified contractors, and working with them could save you money. The contractors typically won’t charge for an estimate, and insurers usually provide a warranty for work completed by an approved contractor.
How Much Does a Roof Leak Cost to Fix?
The total cost to repair your leak and any damage it causes depends on the size of the leak, its source and the length of time it exists before you fix it. If you only need to apply a rubber sealant to a leaking vent, your repair won’t cost very much. On the other hand, if you need to reshingle a moderately larger section of your roof, the materials and labor may rise. Significant roof repairs, including new shingles, plywood, cement and metal flashing can become costly . Other factors, such as the danger involved with working around and repairing a skylight or chimney, may also affect your total costs.
Except for the most basic leaks, it’s best to have a professional assess your damage and recommend repairs. Performing work on your roof can be dangerous, and while you may feel like you’re saving money by repairing a leak yourself, you could end up costing yourself far more if your repairs are inadequate and lead to wood rot or mold damage. Additionally, if your insurance company realizes that new damage is the result of work you tried to perform yourself, rather than having a professional do the job, they may claim that you’re responsible for the damage and deny your claim.