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What to Do If Your Roof Fails

What to do in the event of an emergency roof failureA roof is your home’s primary protection against the elements, shielding your family and your belongings from rain, wind, hail, snow, and sleet. So when your roof is compromised—whether from a small leak or from a tree that’s collapsed onto your home, it can be very scary, dangerous, and stressful. Knowing what to do—and being prepared to do it—can go a long way toward reducing the impact of your roof problems. Read on for tips on what to do if your roof fails:

Be Prepared: keep the following supplies on hand so you’ll have immediate access to them in the event of a roofing emergency:

  1. Tarp(s) in various sizes
  2. Buckets
  3. Ladder
  4. 1×3 Wood Strips
  5. Screw Gun and Screws

Safety First: In any roofing emergency, if the threat is ongoing, such as a continuing storm or high winds, safety is paramount. Don’t attempt to make any repairs at this time. Just get to a safe location. If there are flames, the smell of gas, or anyone is injured, call 911 immediately.  After the immediate danger has passed, you may be able to take some steps to mitigate the damage and protect your home and belongings until professional help arrives.

Assess the Situation: Determine whether it’s critical that you take immediate steps to address the damage. If the forecast is sunny and calm and you have no water leaking into your home, the repair can probably wait until your roofing company arrives. Also, consider your own abilities. Repairing a roof is dangerous business. If you aren’t comfortable standing on a ladder or roof and wrestling with a tarp, just wait for the pros. However, if further severe weather is on the horizon, water is involved, and/or there is widespread damage to your area (such as a hurricane) that might delay an emergency crew, it would be wise to make temporary repairs, only IF you are comfortable doing so. (Repairing roofs on your own is a very serious decision – of the 617 fatal falls in 2009 over one third involved falls from roofs or ladders, read more here “Roof repair – should I do this myself?“).

Power Down: In a roofing emergency, leaking water can do a great deal of damage to a home’s electrical system and present serious safety risks. Get to the breaker box and shut off the power first.

Stop the Water: Moisture can wreak serious havoc on your home’s structural integrity, so stopping water from entering your home is your primary goal. Place buckets under any small leaks inside your home.  Remove any water that’s pooled on the roof and locate the source of the breach(es). This can be challenging, as the water may be entering in a different spot from where the exterior damage has occurred. Depending on the type of damage that has occurred, you may be faced with one huge opening to patch or one or more smaller areas.

Cover Up: Once you locate the damage, it’s best to simply cover the area with a tarp rather than attempt any more serious repair efforts. Roll one end of the tarp around a long 1×3 strip of wood and screw it to the undamaged side of the roof (roll-side down so it doesn’t collect water). Then spread the tarp over the ridge of the roof and down the damaged side of the roof. Be sure the tarp extends well beyond the damage. Then roll and screw another 1×3 to the roof, and repeat around the tarp until it’s secure. Be sure not to step on the tarp as it can be very slippery even when dry.

Regardless of whether you take these stopgap measures, it’s imperative that your first act after ensuring the safety of your family is to call George J. Keller & Sons. The sooner we know about the extent of your roofing emergency, the sooner we can advise on whether a more extensive repair is possible or whether a new roof is your best bet. There are many reasons why roof replacement is often preferred over repairs – you can read more about that here “Roof repair or roof replacement – what are my options?

Remember, your roof is your home’s primary source of protection from the elements – make sure you’re in the best hands by calling the professional, knowledgeable roofing experts at George J. Keller & Sons, 973-927-0963.

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