Roof Leak During a Storm? Here is what to do…

Summary: Thunder and lightning storms are Mother Nature’s own version of a Fourth of July fireworks display.  You get all the majesty of an illuminated sky with the percussion of a marching band.  Its great to sit back and watch from the safety of your bedroom window… until you start to feel that drop of water hitting your head.  Great.  You have a roof leak.  Now what do you do?

During heavy rain storms you can’t get a contractor to simply go up on the roof and fix a hole, even if you say pretty please and offer to hold the umbrella.  So its time to take triage steps to minimize the damage and wait for help to arrive.  Here are some quick and useful tips that can help you get through the summer storm season if you are lucky enough to get a roof leak.

First and foremost, lets stop the damage from getting worse.  If you are physically able:

  1. Go into the attic, if you have access, and clear away the wet insulation from ceiling drywall. Insulation absorbs the water and gets heavy, which weighs down the drywall that comprises your ceiling.  Alleviating the weight from the ceiling will minimize the chance of a ceiling cave in.
  2. Clear off any standing water with a sponge, towel or paper towel.  Standing water damages the ceiling and leads to discoloration or ceiling failure.
  3. If available, lay a piece of plywood across the joists and put a bucket on the plywood to catch the water. Don’t put the bucket directly on the drywall.  It will start to get heavy with the water collected and eventually lead to a ceiling cave in.  Periodically check on the bucket and empty when appropriate.
  4. If you are unable to access the attic, puncture a hole in the ceiling and allow the water to drain into a bucket.  Water always flows downward and will find its way towards the hole.  This will minimize the damage to the rest of the ceiling.

So you have done what you can to minimize further damage.  Great.  Now lets get this repaired.  If your Association is responsible for roof maintenance contact your Property Manager and explain the situation.  As we said before, we will likely not be able to have a contractor repair the situation while the storm is present.  This is not only due to safety reasons (avoid lightning striking the workers or wind blowing them off the roof, etc.), but also the fact that we want to fix the roof correctly.  The roofers require a dry surface to properly repair the roof and are unable to do so during severe storms.

If you live in an Association where the owners are responsible for their own roofs (most likely a single family detached community), then you will need to contact a roofer to come out and give you an estimate.  If you need some ideas of who to call, contact your Property Manager.  PSI has worked with just about every major roof company in the Chicagoland market.  We know who to use, and who to run away from.  We are more than happy to steer you in the right direction with some ideas.

Good luck, and stay dry!

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