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How to Find a Leak in a Metal Roof

Published on Tuesday October 6, 2020

Metal roofs are growing in popularity due to their durability, longevity, and energy efficiency. However, that doesn’t mean they are immune to damages and leaks. A metal roof is not designed to be waterproof, but rather it is designed for water flow. That means there should never be standing water for an extended period of time on the metal roof. 

Searching for a leak in a metal roof is far easier when you focus efforts on specific areas, and if you know what to look for. This guide will help you identify weak areas in your metal roof that may require more regular maintenance and demonstrate how to find a leak in a metal roof.

Signs That May Indicate a Leak in a Metal Roof

1. Rust on the Surface of the Roof

Metal roofs have a lot of pros, but one con is that you have to check for rust. Rust on the surface of a metal roof doesn’t automatically mean there is a leak. However, rust can destroy the roof’s protective coating, leaving holes or scaling which can lead to a leak in the metal roof. If you spot rust on your roof, be sure to inspect for leaks and consider using a rust inhibitor to prevent the rust from spreading.

2. Improper Roof Movement

As many metal roof homeowners know, a metal roof is designed to move a bit in order for water to flow off the roof. Issues may arise when some type of repair project inhibits proper roof flexibility. If the roof panels continue to move, but the repair patch remains still, a tear can form and cause water to penetrate the metal roof. Never attempt a repair job on your metal roof without consulting a professional first.

3. Issues with Fasteners

Clips and fasteners with rubber washers are the two types of attachments used on metal roof panels. Clips fasten directly to the purlin, whereas the fasteners are more concealed after the panels are seamed and crimped together. Over time, the fasteners with their rubber washers might back out, leaving holes or gaps between the metal and the washer. This opens the roof up to water leaks.

4. Holes or Crimping in the Roof

Most commonly caused by foot traffic, a metal roof can end up with creasing or dents in the metal panels. This can cause water to pool and eventually leads to rust, holes, and leakage if not properly repaired or maintained.

5. Improper Materials or Installation

Metal roofing companies require skilled contractors who know which materials and techniques are required for proper installation. If improperly installed, the seams along the metal panels can lift up and allow water to drip under your roof. This not only causes leaks, but can lead to severe structural damage to your home. 

Raining on a metal roof

Finding the Leak in a Metal Roof

Although metal roofs can leak for different reasons, you’ll most likely find the source of the leak in a few key places: the body of the roof, the transition points of the roof, at roof penetrations, or in the termination details.

Body of the Roof

Leaks in the body of the roof can usually be found through a visual inspection. To find a leak in the body of your metal roof, check for the following:

  • Puncture holes from weather or debris
  • Rust damage
  • Missing, misaligned, loose or overly tightened screws
  • Metal roofing panels that have shifted out of place

Transition Points

Transition points are areas of the roof where one section of roof connects with another. Pay close attention to the valleys of your roof, and check for the following:

  • Missing sealant or missing butyl tape
  • Loose trim or gaps
  • Missing, misaligned, loose or overly tightened screws
  • Misalignment where panels overlap 

Roof Penetrations

The penetrations of a roof include any place where pipes, vents, sky lights, chimneys, or any other type of mechanical support passes through the roof. Check for the following: 

  • Cracked seals on flashing
  • Gaps in trims, especially around the corners of penetrations
  • Decaying sealants

Termination Details

A termination detail is any place in the roof where the metal roofing stops. This includes the gaps and trims of the roof. Check for the following:

  • Loose or missing caps
  • Water running under the caps
  • Gutter damage
  • Flashing damage 
  • Decaying sealants 
Metal roof

Have Questions? Reach Out and Ask!

If you’re worried about a leak in your metal roof, reach out to the experts at Long Roofing. Our qualified metal roofers have experience installing and repairing a variety of types of metal roofs. If you’re interested in scheduling a roofing consultation, visit us online today!

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