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Ish Happens: DIY Home Maintenance and Repair

How to Repair Problems That Lurk Behind Your Walls

Learn what to do and how to prevent problems like termites, critters and mold.

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Robert Felker

Leaky Roof

Roof leaks are one of the hardest things to diagnose and track down in home repair, as water can enter in one point, follow the path of least resistance, and exit many feet beyond its entry point. If you can access behind the ceiling where you hear or see the leak, place a bucket, pot or pan to catch the water until the rain subsides. Be sure to check on the container and empty it periodically. While you're in there, look for where the water may be coming in (not where it's dripping; track the source) and use a pencil to mark the area. This is so you can identify where a repair will be needed later. If you can't reach to place a bucket, and it's a significant leak, you can drill a small hole (1/4 inch or so) where the leak occurs and place a bucket under this area. This will prevent the water from building up in your ceiling and causing a collapse. You may be tempted to try to get on the roof and place a tarp over where you think the leak is occurring during the rain, but this is highly dangerous, especially if there are high winds and lightning, not to mention slippery surfaces.

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