Water Damage in the Attic – What To Do Next
Noticing the first signs of water damage in your attic can fill you with dread and leave you wondering what to do next. A leaky attic is never good, but quick action can save you from expensive repairs. If you suspect there is water damage in your attic, use these tips from the attic professionals to deal with it and prevent it from happening again.
Common Causes of Water Damage in an Attic
Unfortunately, the visible damage you can see on your ceiling is often just the tip of the iceberg. It’s for this reason that ignoring signs of water damage will usually lead to structural damage.
One of the first things to check for a water leak is your air conditioner’s condenser. The condenser is a component of your HVAC system that is often situated in the attic. When a condenser reservoir gets full or backed up, it can overflow or leak.
If the condenser is in good working order, the next best place to search for the cause of the water damage is around the outside of your home. Visually examine the condition of your gutters, roof, and gables.
Broken, rotted, or cracked wood, can all be the source of a leak. Hanging, broken, or clogged gutters are another source of moisture getting into the attic. Structural damage to the outside of your house will need to be examined and repaired by a professional.
Now it’s time to look for signs of water damage inside your home. Check for discoloration or water rings on the walls and ceiling.
Enlist all your senses in your hunt for leaks. You may hear audible dripping sounds coming from inside the walls or the ceiling. Your nose can lead you to moisture problems. Moisture in warm, humid, dark corners of the attic will almost certainly harbor mold or mildew that you can recognize by its musty odor.
Other spots around your property that will be more prone to leaks include:
- Locations where roof plates meet
- Where chimneys and vents protrude from the roof
- Small holes drilled for electrical wires
- Broken shingles
How to Repair Water Damage in Your Attic
Once you have determined the source of water damage, you will need to repair the leak. If you are a handy person and the leak and any damage it has caused are minor, you may be able to repair it yourself.
Unfortunately, moisture problems that have gone undetected for some time may have caused more damage than you can handle without professional help.
One area of the attic that is prone to damage is the insulation. Most insulation is highly absorbent and prone to mold outbreaks. Mold can spread quickly, so fixing the leak and removing the affected insulation quickly will minimize the extent of the damage and reduce your repair costs.
Moisture in your attic floor joists and the roof rafters can lead to structural damage if it goes on for too long. Repairs to building structures will require qualified professionals.
Beware of Electrical Infrastructure
Attics often have part of the home’s electrical infrastructure running through it. Most of it will be well insulated against moisture. However, damaged electrical work can be a fire hazard wherever there is moisture. Don’t take any chances with electricity in your leaky attic. Always call a licensed professional.
Call a Plumber
If a plumbing leak is the reason for dripping water into your attic, be careful about fixing it yourself. Plumbing regulations often require a certified professional to do the work. However, if the job is easy and you have handy skills, you may be able to fix the source of the leak.
Replace Your Attic Insulation
Whether you have fiberglass or cellulose insulation, the first thing to do before removing it is to dry it out.
Moisture-laden insulation compresses and can clump, which makes it less effective. So, even after drying the insulation out, you will still need to replace it with new material.
After you repair the source of the moisture in the attic, a dehumidifier can help dry out the insulation faster. A small, household dehumidifier will not be up to the task, which is why we recommend you use an industrial dehumidifier.
Disturbing insulation will release lots of small particles into the air. Make sure you wear appropriate safety gear such as protective eyewear, gloves, masks, long sleeves, and long pants. You will also need to ensure your insulation is asbestos-free. If in doubt, always get a professional opinion from an insulation expert, especially if your home is older.
Use a powerful, large-capacity vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove cellulose. Before you start sucking up all the insulation seal the area off with plastic sheeting to contain errant particles.
Seal the removed insulation in heavy-duty sealable trash bags and dispose of them responsibly at a certified waste management facility. Fiberglass batts can be removed manually and stored in sealable plastic bags to contain particles and mold spores.
How to Prevent Water Damage in the Attic
Any situation that leads to attic leaks sets the stage for water damage and the compromised structural integrity of your roof and ceiling. As with many things, prevention is always cheaper than repairs. You can minimize the risk that you will have to fix water damage by regularly checking and maintaining your attic space.
Climb up to your roof every couple of months to check for loose flashing and shingles. Roof repairs should be dealt with immediately.
Regularly clean and check your gutters. Clear out any leaves, twigs, and other debris. Clogged gutters will overflow under the shingles when it rains, so we recommend that gutter maintenance be performed at least two or three times a year.
Ensure your attic is well ventilated. Make sure that soffit vents are not obstructed by insulation. Consider installing attic fans that will keep the attic temperatures cooler, as well as help prevent condensation.
Who to Call for Water Damage in Ceiling?
Do you want to improve the condition of your attic, or do you want to check it for moisture damage but aren’t comfortable doing it yourself? Call the attic professionals, who can give you a free assessment of your attic and professional advice on what to do next. Don’t ignore your attic for long periods of time. Moisture and leaks can end up costing you thousands of dollars that can easily be avoided with regular inspections.