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When it comes to performance, longevity, and strength, only a few roofing materials can be compared to metal roofing. However, metal roofs are still prone to leaks and other issues. To maximize the lifespan of your roofing materials, you need to know how to repair some of these issues, which starts with understanding their cause.

In this article, you'll learn more about the potential cause of these issues and how to repair a metal roof. Continue reading to uncover more!

Common Causes of Metal Roof Leaks

Here are some common causes of metal roofing system leaks that you should know about:

Metal roofing screws

Most roof leaks arise from the roofing screws. The primary technique applied to screws to keep water out is the application of rubber washers. However, overdriving screws, driving screws at the wrong angle, and underdriving screws are common mistakes that can cause metal roof leaks.

When performing metal roof repairs or roof replacement, it's vital to ensure that all the screws are correctly installed. Another thing to look out for is wear and tear. Over time, the gaskets tend to weaken and dry out, even when the screws are driven correctly. This can also cause the roof to leak.

Stack flashings

In cases where vents or pipes extend from a metal roof, flashings are applied to such areas. They are mostly made from rubber material and can effectively create a seal around air vents and pipes. These are the common areas that are prone to leakages.

The critical thing to note is that stack flashings have a limited lifespan and won't last as long as roofing materials. Also, contraction and expansion caused by changing temperature conditions can subject the flashings to stress over time. All of these factors can cause them to break, thereby causing leakages.

Missing sealants

Sealants are roof waterproofing materials used during the installation process of metal roofing systems. They are not nearly as durable as the metal roof panels and often require regular maintenance, especially in some key areas, which include metal ridge caps, Z-flashings, roof transitions, counter flashings, reglets, and pitch pans.

Curb flashings

Having an HVAC system installed on a metallic roof is a common practice. In many cases, they are attached at the top of the roof curb and feature a metal construction designed to hold the unit's weight. Roof curbs are one of the most common areas prone to roof leaks. Even when flashings are applied to these areas, water eventually finds its way through them.

Seams and overlaps

There are always areas where panels overlap and where there are gaps on metal roofs. After metal roof installation, it's crucial to ensure these areas are correctly sealed because they can cause metal roof leaks.

The leakages resulting from this condition are also known as capillary draws. Water moves through the tiny gaps between the steel roof sheets leading to capillary action. It's worth mentioning that capillary draw and capillary action are the same.

After a roof is built, mastic and rubber seals are placed on both sides of the fasteners between the sheets. However, they deteriorate with time, mainly caused by changing weather conditions.

Guide for Repairing Metal Roof Leaks

Now that you know the different causes of metal roof leaks, here's how you can fix them:

Roof sealant

Roof sealants are designed to offer two main functions: providing a quick fix for roofs and offering short-term protection. Depending on the product you use, roofing sealants are generally intended to provide a seal against ultraviolet radiation and moisture. In addition, they are also an excellent option for fixing minor issues before they lead to more severe problems like mildew and rot damage.

Remove and replace screws

As mentioned earlier, one of the main entry points of water from the roof is through screws, which can be because they are under-driven, over-driven, driven at the wrong angle, or completely miss the metal strut.

Also, screws can have failing gaskets or even back out as a result of old age. If the leak is from the screw, you'll need to remove and replace them quickly. However, it's vital to note that this process is labor-intensive and may not always be ideal.

Roof coating

This is common with commercial roof coating systems, as it allows building owners to retain their existing roofs without tear-off. It involves applying a fluid coating system, which is a more affordable option than a complete roof replacement.

Applying a roof coating also helps to increase the lifespan of roofs significantly. Depending on the type and thickness level of the system you use, roof coatings can last between 10 to 20 years.

Spray foam roofing

Applying spray polyurethane foam over your metal roof is also a great alternative option to consider. This is because of the advantages it offers, which you won't get with coating methods, and it further improves the lifespan of your existing roof.

Roof replacement

There are cases where the damage to the metal roof is significant. This may be a result of old age, and roof repairs may not be enough. The best thing to do in such cases is to get a complete roof replacement.

So, how do you know when to get a roof replacement? Here are some of the indicators to look out for to determine whether your metal roof needs a replacement rather than a repair:

  • Loose panels: Sometimes, it's easy to fix loose panels. However, there are also cases where they shouldn't be ignored because of the potential for more severe issues that can affect the structural integrity of your property. When this happens, you'll need a roof replacement rather than a roof repair.
  • Extensive rust: Extensive rust is a sign to look out for as it shows that your protective coating system and metal roofing system might be aging. When this happens, moisture and water will start to damage the metal and cause leaks. With that, you'll need to get a complete roof replacement.
  • Widespread leaking: Leaks can also be caused by poor installation, missing fasteners, loose panels, and rust.

Unique Considerations With Metal Roofs

Metal roof repairs can be tricky for many reasons. Firstly, metal roofing repairs are likely to experience premature failure, and this is because the repaired part is subjected to different levels of contraction and expansion compared to the metal that surrounds it. This difference causes stress to the part that was repaired and can cause splitting, cracking, and failure.

With that in mind, there are different considerations to make when repairing your metal roofs. One of the major concerns is safety. A hole in your roofing system is an indication of potential deterioration in the entire building structure and decking. Before you start the repair process, performing a detailed roof analysis and safety review is vital.

Also, ensure that you are entirely comfortable, especially if you want to do the repair on your own. Ultimately, the safest thing to do is to hire a professional roofing contractor to handle your roof repairs or replacement. You'll need equipment, tools, and materials if you're doing the job yourself.

These include a putty knife, pencil, caulk gun, wire brush, cordless drill, metal file, paintbrush, metal snips, sealant, pan-head sheet metal screws, and sheet metals. All of these are handy tools to have because different roof issues require various tools.

Get Your Metal Roof Fixed

Metal roofs are resistant to extreme environmental and weather conditions and are designed to last for many years because they are very durable. They can also withstand the effects of storm damage, expansion, contraction, and even rust.

However, whenever metal roofs leak, even if it's only a minor leak, it's vital to repair the roof immediately to avoid significant complications. To get the best results, always contact a reliable roofing contractor.

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