How to Fix Water Damage in Your Attic
Home should be your palace, your temple, your happy place. That’s why getting hit by water damage is one of the worst things for a homeowner.
It turns your safe space into a constant source of anxiety and agitation. But things inevitably happen. You need to be prepared to counteract the effects of water damage in your attic if it ever happens.
When faced with interior water damage, the best thing you can do is invest in repair and preventative measures. These ten steps to fixing water damage in your attic will keep your house in tip-top shape for years to come.
10 Steps to Fixing Attic Water Damage
1. Locate the Leak
The first thing you need to do if you detect water damage in your attic is to locate the leak.
With attic leaks, there are a few likely culprits. Check the ceiling, walls, floor, and everywhere else that a leak could spring.
Sometimes roof leaks will trickle down into the attic. If you suspect the roof is the source, it’s best to seek professional help since a roof fall can be fatal.
Also, examine any A/C vents where condensation gathers, and listen to the walls for running water. The latter could indicate a burst pipe.
2. Fix the Initial Leak
You will want to plug the leak as quickly as possible. Even if you don’t have the materials or know how to fix the leak yourself, you need to at least jam it so that it doesn’t cause more damage as you do cleanup.
3. Assess the Damage
Assess the damage the leak caused and take notes on the solutions that work best. You’ll need that information when you start making your plan to prevent leaks from happening in the first place.
Know that with attic leaks, some damage may not be visible. If a roof leak is the source of the problems, you might see water stains on the ceiling, but the water could have seeped into the walls.
Assessing the visible damage will allow you to determine whether you need a professional inspection for a more in-depth assessment.
4. Get Quotes on Professional Help
You don’t have to do this yourself. Seek professional help if you feel overwhelmed, but start with a quote.
Reputable leak protection and mold remediation companies aren’t going to charge you for a quote. Weigh that price tag against the time and money it would cost to manage this thing yourself.
5. Contact Your Homeowners Insurance Provider
Your homeowner’s insurance may or may not cover the attic leak repairs—it depends on the timing and the event.
Storms, fire, vandalism, and freezing can cause sudden and accidental leaks, typically covered by insurance.
However, leaks resulting gradually from lack of maintenance fall outside the insurer’s range of perils.
If your insurer covers the leak repair, you’ll need to hire an in-network contractor. Make sure to get multiple quotes for this.
Otherwise, if your provider won’t help with the costs, you might want to consider DIY repair.
6. Create a Repair Plan
Research shows that more homeowners are embarking on DIY fixer-upper projects in their own homes. It’s not impossible to fix even a complex leak by yourself.
Online tutorials are your friend, and so are your friends in the real world who do handy contract work.
Use the resources available to you to create a repair plan and fix the leak at its source.
7. Clear Out the Attic
Once you have repaired the leak or even during repairs, you can start tending to the damage.
Start by clearing out space. Remove anything not bolted to the floor. Items bolted to the floor will need special attention if you’re using special tools to remove water and remediate mold.
As you take furniture and valuables out of the attic, check for signs of mold. Mold can crop up without warning, and once it starts spreading, it’s hard to stop.
Keep all the objects from the attic in an open, aired-out space.
8. Remove Damaged Structural Components
It’s not enough to dab the water-damaged areas with towels and run a box fan in the space.
Water-damaged floorboards can rot and breed mold. You’ll have to yank up the carpeting and flooring, then dry all affected areas.
If the ceiling and walls are where the damage manifests, you’ll need to consider removing water-logged walls, replacing the drywall and insulation, and installing them anew.
9. Clean Up the Water Damage
Remove all the standing water with a wet-dry vac. Empty the vacuum in a safe place.
Identify where there may be rot and structural problems, especially keeping an eye out for mold and mildew.
10. Dry Out Extensively
Mold affects everything from allergies to arrhythmia and early onset of asthma. It’s not anything to be taken lightly.
If water has come into contact with any soft surface, like fabric, upholstery, or carpeting, you need to dry the surface out and air the room out. Try and ventilate the whole room for at least three days.
You can use box fans, a cross breeze, standing fans, and dehumidifiers to dry the room out completely.
Attic Water Damage Prevention
Buy a Leak Detector
Handheld leak detectors are available in most home goods and repair stores. These devices emit lasers that detect changes in pressure. Where they detect irregular pressure in a home, they’ve likely found a leak.
If you ever suspect a rainstorm did any lasting damage, keep one of these on hand. Take your leak detection instrument into the attic and scour every inch.
Invest in a Roof Remodel
Old pipes and old roofs are the two leading causes of water-damaged attics. Old pipes crack, creak, and burst. Old roofs splinter, open up, and let the torrent inside.
Roofs need to be relaid and reshingled every 20-25 years. Piping can last 80-100 years, but they are also prone to bursting and leaks.
These remodels can get expensive, but you can mitigate costs with routine inspections.
Upgrade Your Insulation
Insulation goes a long way in keeping an attic safe from leaks. Well-insulated roofs withstand wind, rain, snow, and other elements better than roofs with no sublevel insulation.
Insulation is also the first place to breed mold if exposed to moisture since the material is porous and dense. Insulation only needs replacing every 15-20 years, but if you’ve owned your home that long or bought an older home, it may be time for insulation replacement.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does It Cost to Fix Water Damage in Attic?
The repair costs depend on the severity of the damage and whether you hire a contractor or repair it yourself. Either way, you’re looking at anywhere between $350 and $1250.
If you go it alone, you’ll need to buy all the supplies and account for the time and labor to fix everything. If you go the professional route, you’ll need a minimum of leak detection, water removal, and mold remediation services.
Depending on the leak, your homeowner’s insurance may offset some costs.
What Does Water Damage Look Like in an Attic?
Leaks can go for a long time undetected. But usually, leaks will show up quickly. Signs of water damage in an attic include:
- Stains in the ceiling or the molding where the wall meets the ceiling
- Warping in the paint
- A smell of damp or mildew coming from the attic
- Drips from the roof that remain long after it rains
- Water that comes out of the tap is discolored or contains debris. It could be running from the leak and contaminating your water supply
- Damp or sopping insulation
A Clean, Dry Attic Space
You deserve to live in a happy, healthy, water damage-free home. That’s why you should always have the number to All Dry USA on hand.
Water damaged attic got you down? Call All Dry USA today.
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