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Winter is fast approaching; will your current roof hold out? How to fix a leaking roof

winter leaking roof

The great British weather throws up all sorts of challenges, but perhaps one of the most expensive is the damage it can do to our homes. Flat roofs are particularly vulnerable, and as we start the run up to winter, you might be wondering if your roof will hold out. In this blog, we look at leaking roofs - what's causing the problem and how to fix a leaking roof.


How to spot a leaking roof

If water is dripping through your ceiling, then it's quite obvious that there is a leak somewhere on your flat roof. Other tell-tale signs that there is a problem, include:

  • dark, brown, damp patches on the ceiling that indicate moisture
  • sagging that is visible from the outside, which may mean the timber is rotting
  • low spots on the roof where water can pool and put stress on the structure

The only way to know for sure is to get up on the roof and inspect it. Flat roof leaks are hard to identify because the water can run in any direction, as opposed to a pitched roof where it will always run down. With a flat roof, the problem may not be directly above the water coming through your ceiling - it could be anywhere on the roof.


winter leaking roof

Why is my roof leaking?

Traditional flat roof materials, such as felt, are not known for their durability. Add in Britain's changeable weather and your roof is suddenly under a lot of pressure.

Your roof expands and shrinks under extreme temperatures, and over many years this can lead to cracks in the material. This can also happen with flashing - the metal heats up and cools down, eventually revealing the joints and angles it was made to protect.

Seams and overlaps are another weak point and a major cause of leaks. If the membrane hasn't been installed properly then water can get under the material where it joins. This can lead to blistering, which is a clear sign that water has made its way in.

As your roof ages, it's inevitable that it will deteriorate. Prompt repair can stop the problem from getting any worse, but it might be a sign that it's time to replace your roof.


How to fix a leaking roof

Flat roof repair is not an easy DIY fix, but in the short-term it can buy you some time while you consider what to do next. If you're looking for help on how to fix a leaking roof, we recommend following these step-by-step instructions.


1. Identify the leak inside

Although the leak is unlikely to be directly above the water coming through your ceiling, it's useful to have a rough idea of where the problem is before you get up there.


2. Get up on the roof

The only way to identify the cause of the leak is to get up on the roof and inspect it for signs of damage. Look for blistering, cracks, and holes, paying particular attention to places where the membrane overlaps or joins, and around any pipework or vents.

Look out for signs of pooling water, which can put a strain on your roof. You can identify where water has been sat by looking for low spots surrounded by a dirt-stained ring.

But please BE CAREFUL and don't attempt this yourself unless you are sure you can climb up and back down safely and that the roof will hold your weight!


3. Remove any debris

If it's not immediately obvious where the problem is, try cleaning up a bit. Small holes or cracks might be hidden under debris and removing it could reveal the problem.

Once you've found the cause of the leak, dry and clean the area ready for re-sealing it.

Again, only do this if you are completely sure you are safe.


4. Re-seal the area

Perhaps the most important step in emergency roof repair is to re-seal the area to stop water getting in. The material of your roof will dictate the type of sealant you should use, but as a rough guide we suggest using either a waterproof paint or roofing cement.

These instructions for how to fix a leaking roof are useful as a stopgap to prevent the damage getting worse, but if there is more than one leak or it keeps happening then it might be time to consider a roof replacement. In the long-term it could be more cost effective to replace your flat roof than to keep paying for it to be repaired.


flat roof during construction Doncaster

How to prevent a leaking roof

To catch small issues before they become bigger problems, we recommend inspecting your roof regularly. Have a look twice a year in the spring and autumn, and check again after any bouts of bad weather, particularly heavy rain and snow.

If you find any damage, don't ignore it. Just because it's not causing a leak right now, doesn't mean it won't in the future, so use this time to find a roofer and start collecting quotes. Knowing about it upfront, gives you the time to save for the cost of the work.


Flat roof replacement

New flat roofing systems are far superior to the traditional materials that are still used on buildings up and down the country. Whether it's a porch, an extension, or a garage, they can be cut to fit any shape or size, and best of all - they are seamless.


GRP FlexiTec 2020

GRP or glass reinforced plastic is strong, flexible, and crack-resistant. It's so durable that it comes with a guarantee of up to 20 years. It's easy to install and can be applied to most roof surfaces, including felt, asphalt, timber, fibreglass, metal, and concrete.


RubberCover EPDM

This system is designed specifically for residential roofs, and it is environmentally friendly, allowing for the recovery of rainwater. It comes with a 20 year guarantee, and because it has such a long lifecycle, it offers excellent value for money.

With no need for seams or expansion joints, there are no weak spots where water can get in, so it's guaranteed to last longer than traditional flat roofing materials.


Who can replace a flat roof?

For leaking roof repairs then an enthusiastic DIY-er can solve the problem as a stopgap, but for a full roof replacement, you'll need to call in the professionals.

Total Trades specialise in roof replacement in Doncaster and the surrounding areas. We install GRP FlexiTec 2020 and RubberCover EPDM, and our customers agree that this new technology is more durable and cost-effective.

Before you Google 'how to fix a leaking roof', contact Total Trades for a no-obligation chat about how to weather-proof your flat roof in time for the winter.

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