It’s been a pretty dry winter for roofing but Farmer’s Almanac says January and February are supposed to be above average in rain for the Southwest part of the United States and those are the big rain months. So far, early January hasn’t proved out for us in SoCal but don’t count your chickens just yet, we could get many inches of rain between now and early March.
Inspect Your Roof – Inside and Out!
There are things you can do before it rains or after the first decent rainfall:
Before it rains:
Do a walk around the eaves of your roof and look for any peeling paint or dry rot up under the eave in the soffit area. (Soffit – the underside of a part or member of a building, as of an overhang or staircase.) If you’re not sure it’s dry rot, poke at it with a screwdriver, if it goes in easily, you’ve got dry rot and most likely a roof leak.
Check out your roof. You can even use binoculars and ensure none of the roofing material, such as shingles, slate, wood shakes, wood shingles, tile or even flat roofing such as torchdown or hot tar has come loose, is curling, blistering or starting to flare up. This is particularly important if you’ve had a good windstorm.
After the first decent rain:
Do a thorough walk around inside your home with the lights on and/or a flashlight and check your ceilings and walls for discoloration. You’ll want to check inside closets and particularly inside the water heater closet, over sinks, tubs, the stove, the furnace, around the chimney, etc. All these items have vent pipes that go out through the roof and those vent pipes have flashings sealed with mastic or tar which are one of the most common sources for a roof leak. Your chimney has a metal flashing, also a metal saddle or cricket that can also leak and all these things need to be sealed again and again for the life of a roof. Skylights are also a common source and sometimes it’s the skylight itself or it could be the skylight flashing that connects the skylight box, or curb, to the roof. Skylights have a rubber gasket between the lens and the skylight frame and they often will last only 10 years.
If you have an open beam or cathedral ceiling area with exposed wood (meaning, you don’t have an attic or crawlspace over this room) often there is very little sign except faint drip lines unless you happen to catch the water dripping during the rain. If you hold the light at the right angle you can usually see these. Sometimes homeowners don’t notice these lines until the summer. It doesn’t always mean a roof leak; sometimes it could be condensation or water vapor collecting on the ceiling and it will run and form faint water drip lines.