While we might be warm and comfortable inside the house, the condition of the roof outside might not be sufficient to hold back storms. Here are a few tips...

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While we might be warm and comfortable inside the house, the condition of the roof outside might not be sufficient to hold back storms.

Here are a few tips that could save you some grief — and maybe a little money.

Roof leaks get discovered during rainy weather. That’s when it’s too late for anything but a repair. No time to contemplate, just get to the phone and get a roofer there as soon as possible.

There are a few ways to slow the leaks, however, until you can get a proper repair.

First, it is important to deal with the leaks inside the house to minimize interior damage.

Here’s what happens: A water leak from the roof will slowly pool at the ceiling until it finds an escape route — usually a penetration point like at a light fixture or heat register. In a sheetrock ceiling, a taped joint is another weak spot where a leak can occur.

After several hours of pooling in the attic, a single roof leak can turn into multiple leaks inside — making even the simplest leak appear much worse than it really is.

To get the leak inside the home under control, look for the “bulge” in the ceiling or where the most water has pooled. Position a bucket under the bulge, then punch a hole in the middle of it.

Giving the water an escape route will minimize leak management to one or two locations but initially will quickly release gallons of trapped water. So, be prepared.

Funnel trick

You can choose to manage water collection with buckets, or redirect the water to the outside with a bottle funnel.

If you decide to try the funnel, here’s what you’ll need:

• A plastic one-gallon container (as for milk)

• Duct tape

• A garden hose

• A ladder

Cut off the bottom of the container, and turn it upside down to create a funnel. Use the duct tape to attach one end of the garden hose to the small opening at the bottle neck and direct the other end of the hose outside (through a window or door). Finally, tape the bottle funnel to the ladder so that it is immediately beneath the leak. Water dripping into the funnel will be fed through the hose and outside.

Tips for outside

Once you have managed the leak inside, you can attack the outside. Keep in mind that it is nearly impossible for most of us to permanently stop a roof leak in the rain.

Step one is to use a flashlight to find the leak in the attic.

Remember, the leak in the ceiling and the leak in the roof may not align. If your roof covering is over a layer of plywood, keep in mind that water generally will travel from the leak in the roofing material to the nearest joint in the plywood — depending on how the roof slopes.

Once you have determined the general vicinity of the leak from within the attic, go outside and study that general area with binoculars. A close look may or may not render an answer, but it is worth a “safe” look from a distance. Here’s what to look for:

• One or more missing shingles (sloped roofs).

• Pooling water (flat roofs).

• A fallen tree limb.

• A plumbing or heating vent pipe.

• Debris causing a dam.

Missing shingle? Replace it with another shingle. If you don’t have one and the stores are closed, make one from a piece of tin or plastic. Any waterproof material can be used to temporarily replace any kind of shingle.

Pooling water? Sweep away the water with a broom. Look for a seam that can be lifted. Cover with a thick glob of “wet patch” roof-patching compound.

A tree limb? Remove the tree limb or other heavy object and use the steps above to patch the hole and temporarily stop the leak.

Clearing leaves and debris and allowing water to flow normally can immediately make a leak go away. Many roofs are filled with places that will leak only when water is not allowed to properly flow. This is very common on pitched roofs at inside corners known as the “valley.”

However, any blockage can cause a leak. Even a blockage in gutters or a downspout can result in a roof leak.