Installing a metal roof could be one of the best investments you could make when it comes to your home. With the proper care and maintenance, a metal roof's overall longevity easily surpasses that of a typical asphalt shingle roof. Nevertheless, metal roofs are not completely immune to water leaks.
There are many reasons why your metal roof could suddenly spring a leak. The following shows where and why leaks can occur, as well as some pointers on how to take care of sudden leaks.
How and Where Leaks Can Happen
Learning where to look is the first step towards tracking down and fixing a water leak in your metal roof. Although a leak can happen in just about any place, most leaks can be pinpointed to these areas:
- Transitions - If your metal roof is connected to an older, existing asphalt shingle roof, then it'll probably have a transition between the two separate materials. Metal roofs that change pitch mid-length may also have transitions that help visually and physically connect the roof's appearance. It's not uncommon for a water leak to form near a transition, especially if it occurs in a valley instead of a peak.
- Terminations - Areas where the metal roofing material terminates can also be prone to water leaks. These areas commonly include ridge caps, hip caps and gable trims.
- Roof penetrations - Wherever a pipe, vent or support goes through your metal roof, chances are water can and will get in unless the proper precautions are taken. These penetrations are usually covered with flashings, caulk, butyl tape or sealant. Over time, the materials used for covering these penetrations can fail due to age and fatigue, putting your roof at risk of leaking.
- Metal roof panel - It's not unusual for the panel itself to give up the ghost as time passes. The most common cause of panel failure among metal roofs is rust and corrosion, usually due to a failure to properly rustproof the roof at the factory or after the installation. Rust and galvanic corrosion can also be found near nails or fasteners.
In addition to the four potential problem areas listed above, there are other cues to look out for. For instance, the presence of rusted nails, screws and other fasteners can prove problematic for your metal roof's integrity later on.
Finding and Fixing the Leaks
Once you understand how leaks can form and where they often form, you should be ready to formulate a maintenance plan that can adequately address these roofing issues. Here are a few pointers you'll want to consider as you check and repair your roof:
- Start off by searching for the easier-to-find leaks and carefully work your way towards tougher and harder-to-find leaks.
- Check for screws, bolts and fasteners that are misaligned, missing or in direct contact with the roof panel. Rusted fasteners should be replaced and kept out of direct contact with the panel using rubber washers and grommets.
- New screws and nails should be covered with sealant to prevent rust and corrosion from destroying the new fasteners.
- If the flashing around a roof penetration fails, remove and replace the area with new flashing and plenty of sealant.
- Loose or ill-fitting panels should be refitted and retightened to ensure that these panels do not dislodge themselves after a strong gust of wind.
If you're not comfortable with being on your own roof or if your roof is in need of significant repairs, you're better off calling on your local contractor, someone like Acoma Roofing, Inc., to perform the inspection and take care of the rest. In the meantime, you can use a pair of binoculars to visually assess the state of your roof.