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Securing the roof

By now you should have heard the public service announcement that the best place to be during a hurricane is in your home — that is, provided you have done what is necessary to make it secure.

The experts have pointed out that stress is reduced if during the passage of the weather system you are with people you know, as opposed to a crowded hurricane centre.

However, despite all your preparation, given the type of material of which your roof is made, or its age, if is likely that some damage will be sustain as a result of high winds, which could then leave the contents vulnerable to the heavy rains that may continue for many days after the winds have died.

Your house has lost some roof covering

What you need to do is quickly evaluate the vulnerability of your home to leaks and if you find sources of real or potential leaks do something about it. The following will help you determine if the building is vulnerable to leaks after the wind has died down and if so, what you might be able to do about it to reduce water entry.

When you lose weather roofing, the raincoat of your building, you need to evaluate within a very few days the vulnerability/susceptibility of your house to having water leaks so that you can decide what to do and get it done.

Some roof coverings can be lost without making the house very vulnerable. For example if you lose shingles or roof tiles only over the eaves, any leaks that occur will likely be outside the living area of the building. Also, if roof tiles are lost but the waterproof underlay remains intact, you may not experience water leaks.

Evaluating the Damage:

Just because you have or find water in your house does not necessarily mean that it came from your roof or if it came from the roof that it will leak during subsequent rains. The water may have entered not because roofing material has been lost but from some other entry routes. Wind-blown water can enter through many places other than the roof.

It may be obvious that roofing material has been lost. On the other hand it may be hard to see parts of the roof from the ground or you may not be able to get close enough to a roof area to evaluate the significance of missing roofing. You might try binoculars to get a better look. You might also need to go across the street or way out in the yard to get a good enough view.

You may also be able to set a ladder against the roof to get a better view.

As a last resort, if it is safe for you to do this, you may be able to get up on the roof. Don’t go up there if you are not physically up to the task, if it is slippery or wet, or if it is a concrete or clay tile roof. Roofs can leak even if all the roof covering is in place because leaks, especially in heavy or rains of extended duration, can and frequently do occur around, over, and under flashings. These sorts of leaks are difficult to detect.

What to look for on almost any roof?

If black felt paper is exposed, it is likely that water will slip under it to cause leaks. If you can see plywood, then almost assuredly there will be roof leaks.

The following are some more things to look for and temporary corrective actions you can take until you are able to get a professional licensed roofer.

Shingle roofs: Determine if shingles are lost only over unimportant areas such as eaves, the garage, and overhangs. Also determine what part of the shingle is damaged. Is it just the tab or have whole shingles been torn off in an area? If it is just the tab, you may not develop a leak for some time unless the top edge of the shingle below is also exposed. If you can locate some of the tabs in your yard, you may be able to glue them back in place with asphalt roofing cement to help keep the weather roof in place until you can get a roofer.

Tile roofs: Even if roof tiles got blown off over part of your living area your roof probably won’t leak much if the roof tiles were secured to the roof with nails or screws that did not get pulled out and the waterproof membrane stayed intact. Missing nails or screws would leave little holes through which rain could enter. Tile roofs can also be held down by concrete or adhesive foam paddies. If this is your case, leaks are less likely unless the waterproof membrane is torn around those paddies.

Common problems and solutions

Plugging Small Holes with Roofing Cement: Roofing cement is a black tar like substance that is not water soluble and is used as a weatherproof material paste or sealant. Some types of roofing cement will not adhere properly unless they are applied on a surface that is dry.

In contrast, wet-dry mastics can be applied to wet or dry roof surfaces and it will usually be easier to get them to adhere to the surface. Check the type before you buy so you will know the limitations. This material is available at home supply stores or at roofing supply places in a variety of packages include 10 oz. caulk tube size, gallon cans, and five gallon buckets.

Because only a small amount is needed for each hole a small amount can cover a lot of holes. In the event of a storm there will likely be a run on this material so you may want to stock up on a small container of it. It is inexpensive and can be stored a long time.

Care has to be exercised when applying roof mastics because it is easy to think it is being effectively applied when in fact it is not adhering to the surfaces. It may well have to be forcefully smeared against the surfaces. And even then you should attempt to scrape it off.

You may be quite surprised to learn that it did not adhere even though you took the care to forcefully smear it on. Try again. This is especially true if the roof surface is rough because of roof granules or gravel. It takes more diligence than you might think until you try it.

To be sure it adheres to the roof use an inch wide scraper, putty knife, back of a spoon, or some other smearing tool. Press the cement firmly into the surface multiple times in several directions so that it works in and sticks to the surface.

Another option is to buy a small roll of self adhesive patching tape that can be applied over the top of holes or cuts. If your roof covering makes you apprehensive, you may be well advised to stock up on several tubes of the cement especially given how inexpensive it is.

* We will continue on this topic next week.

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