How to Find a Leak in a Metal Roof

Republic Roofing would like you to know how to find a leak in a metal roof. Metal roofs are a great asset to your building, providing built-to-last durability, longevity, and energy efficiency. While a metal roof undoubtedly offers exceptional durability and weather protection, it is not immune to leaks and damages. 

Leaks in a metal roof are typically caused by wear and tear and neglected standing water for an extended period which can lead to rust and eventually leak holes. Don’t let leaky roof damage your home–it will only become more expensive to fix once the damage has been done. With this guide, you’ll be able to easily identify potential weak areas in your metal roof that may require more regular maintenance and show how to find a leak in a metal roof. 

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 many pros; durability, low maintenance, energy efficiency, and style but one con is that you must be careful to check for rust. Rust on the surface of a metal roof doesn’t necessarily mean there is a leak, but in time, rust can destroy the roof’s protective coating, leaving holes or scaling which can lead to a leak in the roof. To make sure you’re avoiding this problem, be on the lookout for signs of rust and employ a rust inhibitor when necessary 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 for water to flow off the roof. Water can penetrate metal roofs when the parts that allow the roof to move are restricted. 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. To ensure proper diagnosis of the issue, never attempt a repair job on your metal roof without consulting a professional first.

3. Issues with Fasteners

Metal roofs require clips and fasteners with washers that are designed to tighten up against the panels as they are crimped into the purlins. The washers have rubber around them that expand which creates a tight seal between the metal roof and the washer, better holding it in place.

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

Metal roofs, which are built using steel panels, can be susceptible to creasing or dents from foot traffic and physical impact due to their flimsy design. This is caused by the occasional piling of snow or heavy objects on a roof that causes stress on the metal. When this stress causes the panels to bow or crease, water may pool causing holes, and leakage and ultimately rusting out the support structure of the roof if not properly maintained or repaired. 

5. Improper Materials or Installation

Metal roofs provide long-lasting durability, but they require skilled contractors who have experience installing them. If improperly installed, the seams along the metal panels can lift and allow water to drip under your roof. This not only causes leaks but can lead to severe structural damage to your home

Finding the Leak in a Metal Roof

Metal roofs aren’t immune to leaks but knowing where the leaks are likely to occur can help you pinpoint the source and keep them from turning into big problems.

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 the roof connects with another. Pay close attention to the valleys of your roof, and check for the following:

  • A 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, skylights, 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

Have Questions? Reach Out and Ask!

When it comes to your metal roofing, there’s no such thing as too careful. While the most common cause of roof leaking is wear and tear, there are also other factors at play; such as improper installation, abuse, and age. Your first line of defense is proper maintenance to make sure you have a roof that will last. 

Make sure your metal roof is properly maintained! Reach out to the experts at Republic Roofing & Restoration at 901-437-5278 in Collierville, or Memphis, TN. Our qualified team of metal roofers specializes in installing, inspecting, and repairing a variety of metal roofs, and our estimators can also offer helpful advice to ensure your metal roof stays well-protected for years.