Tips for waterproofing your roof

A properly installed roof has a life span of 30 to 50 years, depending on the type of roofing material...

A properly installed roof has a life span of 30 to 50 years, depending on the type of roofing material used, but some roofing experts recommend replacing the roof every 15 years. However, as a savvy, cost-conscious homeowner, you can use these tips to waterproof your roof and extend its life expectancy.

How to tell if the roof is already leaking

A leaking roof has several telltale signs. Inside of the house, you may notice dark spots on your ceilings, water stains on the pipes near the furnace or damp areas on the fireplace. Outside, the shingles may be cracked or curled, the paint may be peeling underneath the roof overhang or some areas of the roof--such as the chimney or skylights--may be prematurely worn. An accumulation of asphalt particles in the drain or an overgrowth of moss are also warning signs that the roof is already leaking.

Waterproofing the roof

If the house is a new build, or if you are replacing the entire roof, use a waterproof material under the roof shingles. Roofing felt and tar paper are two options. If you don't need to replace the entire roof, there should still be a waterproof material underneath the roof shingles. Without this, complete waterproofing is impossible.

Once you have confirmed that there is a waterproof underlayment on the roof, look for loose, broken or damaged shingles. If you find any, these will need to be repaired with a silicone sealant or they will allow water and wind to rapidly destroy the existing waterproofing underlayment. Also check to be sure that there are no gaps in the flashing, which is the metal part that connects the roof to the chimney. If you find any holes or other irregularities in the flashing, seal the damaged areas with mastic or replace the flashing if necessary.

Next, apply a waterproof compound on top of the shingles. There are many types of sealants that can be sprayed on, brushed on or rolled on.

Maintaining the waterproof roof

Although snow is an uncommon sight in Atlanta, in the unlikely event of a blizzard that produces an accumulation that remains for several days, the weight of the snow can make the roof susceptible to leaks. While it is not advisable to climb up on a snow-covered roof, you can place a ladder next to the house--and have someone help stabilize it--while you climb as high as you feel comfortable, and use a snow shovel or comparable object to remove the snow from the roof. To avoid damaging the roof, shovel only in the direction of the slope. If you are uncomfortable performing any of these tips to waterproof your roof, call an Atlanta-area roofing specialist.

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