How to Renovate After Damage From a Leaky Roof
By Erica Garza
It’s one of the most worrying scenarios a homeowner can face. A leaky roof has caused interior damage to your home, but your insurance company isn’t covering it. While homeowner’s insurance typically covers storm-related roof damage and other unexpected water damage that you couldn’t have seen coming, insurance companies may deem interior damage as “cosmetic.” Further, they’ll rarely cover leaks that you could have easily prevented. Now what?
If a leaky roof has caused water damage to your home, these steps can help begin the renovation process.
Consider Replacing the Roof
Though costly, you’ll have to determine if your leaky roof is a sign that it needs replacing. An asphalt shingle roof should last 20 to 25 years, sometimes longer, so first do the math—how long have you had your roof? Secondly, have a look at your roof. If its shingles are still straight, you probably just need to repair the leak. But if they’re warped or saggy, you might have bigger troubles. Also pay attention to your chimney, as chimneys are notorious for leaks.
If replacing the roof, asphalt shingles are not the only way to go. Consider clay or concrete tiles, wood shingles or even metal roofing. Talk with your contractor about what might suit your home best.
Inspect Attics, Ceilings and Walls
If you do not have an attic, or if the size of the leak is large, it may damage the interior ceiling, which will be noticeable as darkened paint or bubbled plaster. This damage may expand to nearby walls and ceiling-mounted light fixtures. If you do have an attic, check on water damage to items stored there.
If drywall has been compromised, the damaged material will have to be removed and patched up with new drywall, before finishing up with primer and paint.
Look for Mold and Mildew
Some unfortunate side effects of water damage from a leaky roof are mold and mildew, which if not addressed, can cause serious health concerns. Mold may spread throughout the home, into the central air system, as well as into carpets and furniture, so catching and treating mold is crucial.
Assess Rafters, Ceiling Joists and Frames
A contractor can help you inspect for structural damage to your home, i.e., its rafters, ceiling joists and wall frames, to check if wood framing repairs are needed. Water damage can lead to wood deterioration, which can compromise the whole structure of your home.
Examine Carpeting and Flooring
A leaky roof may also affect carpeting and flooring, especially if the water has been gathering in the same spot without the homeowner’s knowledge. For carpet, the carpeting pad located between the carpet and floor, will most likely need replacing. You may also have to use fans to dry the carpet, then steam clean it to prevent carpet mold. Hardwood floors are also susceptible to damage and may need replacing.
Prevent Future Leaks
Once you’ve fixed your leaky roof and repaired interior damage, resist the urge to leave it all behind you. Prevent future leaks before the next big storm hits. Consider scheduling annual roof inspections, maintaining gutters, replacing worn out shingles and even trimming and maintaining nearby trees, which can be catastrophic for roofs. No matter how frustrating roof leaks can be, they are preventable. Keep looking up.
Erica Garza is writer from Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health and VICE.