Your metal roof protects everything underneath it. Taking care of your roof means taking care of your walls, your foundation, your furniture, your electrical, your flooring, etc.
Most homeowners postpone a metal roof repair and replacement because of the cost and disruption involved. However, procrastinating, waiting, and ignoring small problems only creates bigger disruptions and higher costs later.
Clear Signs Your Metal Roof Needs a Repair
Most roof repairs start with a small sign that is often missed. A thorough roof inspection for any of these signs is the best place to start. We recommend checking on your roof a few times a year, especially after strong storms as it might cause storm damage.
- Openings in the Horizontal Seams – Horizontal seams are used if the metal roof panels don’t extend long enough to cover the full rafter length of the building. If these are used, these seams can be prone to separate over time and allow water to seep in, causing water stains.
- Openings in Penetration Flashing – The expansion and contraction in metal roofing are inevitable as a result of temperature changes. However, this can cause openings in the penetration flashing, creating a leaking roof. In the case of asphalt roofs, sagging roof, cracked shingles, missing shingles can cause leaky roofs.
- Metal Roof Oxidation and Corrosion – Unlike asphalt shingles, some metals can oxidize over time, especially as the protective coating wears away. Left unattended, oxidation can lead to complete structural failure.
- Fastener Failing and Backing Out – Fasteners are either nails or screws, attached with a neoprene fastener. Over time, these fasteners can back out – or move. This can be caused by wind, vibration, freeze-thaw, or expansion. When this happens, it can let water seep into the opening left by the fastener.
- Oil Canning – Oil canning refers to the ripple effect that can occur in metal roofing. This is usually due to the metal being over-stretched and unable to stay flat. There are many ways this can happen, but often is a result of poor installation.
- Open Ridge/Headwall Flashing – A rising wall is a common area where weakness typically develops. Often, this is due to poor installation, and lack of attention to detail. It won’t cause problems initially, but as the underlayment ages, moisture can penetrate the system.
- Scratches and Punctured Roof – Occasionally, debris from a tree or falling object can scuff your roof, or chip away at the protective coating and eventually lead to punctures, leaks, and tears.
- Leaking and Scuffing – Any painted roof’s surface is subject to scuffing. A metal roof is no different. There is always the possibility that coils, rubbing, edge guards, or carriers can scuff the roof and remove the protective coating which can contribute to leaking.
- Dissimilar Metals & Roof Materials – If you mix two different metals together in a roof installation, it can lead to early degradation, sagging roof, staining, and potential failure of the complete roof.
- Fading Paint – The paint is the protective coating on your metal that makes it last. When it begins to fade, so does the protection on your roof.
5 Common Causes of Metal Roof Leaks That Needs Repair
No one wants to deal with a leaky roof. In addition to paying for the roof repair, a leak can also ruin other valuable items in your home or commercial buildings. Metal roof leaks are rare, but they are still a possibility. Most metal roof leak is due to one of these five most common causes:
- Metal Roofing Screws – This is the number one reason for leaky metal roof. Under-driving screws, over-driving screws, driving screws at the wrong angle, and screws that missed the framing member can all cause leaks, especially skylight leaks. This is why it’s critical to choose a metal roofing company that has extensive experience.
- Stack Flashings – Stack flashings are the “boots” or flashings around HVAC, plumbing, or air pipes that come out of the roof. The stack flashing is how the pipe is waterproofed. If the metal expands/contracts around these areas, it can break the seal.
- Missing Sealants – Roof sealants are installed under trims such as metal ridge caps and Z flashings, around roof transitions, counter flashings, relets, and pitch pans. These areas should be touched up as they wear. If they are neglected, it can lead to leaks.
- Curb Flashings – Similar to asphalt shingles, metal curb flashing is the area around HVAC units on metal roofs. Water can get trapped behind the unit and erode the sealants. When this happens, you’ll have a leak on your hand.
- Seams and Overlaps – Capillary draw is when water can actually travel uphill between two tightly joined pieces of metal. This can cause leaks at the seams in a metal roof. Sealant or butyl tape between the two pieces of metal can sometimes fix the problem, but if not used correctly can actually make leaks worse.
Should You Repair, Restore or Replace Your Metal Roof
There are three options when you notice problems with your metal roof. First, roof repair. Second, you can restore the roof, or third, you can replace it with an entirely new roof.
The national average roof repair cost is less than $1000, while a roof refresh or placement can easily cost 8-20x that amount. So how do you know what to do?
- Repair and Maintain – Metal roofing can be repaired and well-maintained for decades. Most experts recommend a thorough inspection every two years to check for major repairs issues. If you can catch small problems early and fix them correctly, you can prevent major projects in the future.
- Restoration – Restoration usually involves larger roof repair, replacing fasteners, and giving the roof a fresh coat of sealant. This can be a great way to extend the life of your metal roof. However, there is a small window of time where restoration will be effective, and you can avoid a full roof replacement cost.
- Replacement – A metal roof has the longest lifespan of any roofs. Still, that doesn’t mean they last forever. Generally, due to age, neglect, or damage, there are times when the metal roof will need to be replaced.
What It Will Cost to Repair a Metal Roof
Just because you have a roof leak doesn’t mean that the entire roof is bad. In fact, fixing metal roofing can be a simple roof repair.
Many times, a roof leak can be found and fixed using the correct metal roof sealant or by replacing screws or tape sealer.
Roof repair that is found and fixed early is less than $1000. A new roof sealant is usually between $500 to $2000. These are typical costs of homeownership.
However, if you’re faced with a roof repair that is $5,000 or more, it’s time to consider a restoration or roof replacement.
Anytime you’re faced with repairing or replacing your metal roof, you want to check the original installation warranty from the roofing contractors and/or the manufacturer. Most metal roofs come with an extensive warranty that may cover future roof repair.
In addition, your homeowner policies may cover the roof repair and replacement to some extent. Coverage often depends on the source of the repair and the extent of the damage.
Some policies may cover part of the roof repair or replacement while others will not. If you have had recent storm damage, call your homeowners insurance roofing company and understand your options.
As with any roofing material, you’ll get the longest lifespan with the least issues with regularly scheduled inspections, maintenance, and repairs.
Why Should You Give Your Metal Roof Annual Inspection & Maintenance?
Although it’s more durable than other roofing types, metal roofing is still vulnerable to wear and tear. The biggest culprits to metal roofing are harsh weather conditions and improper care. Annual inspections and maintenance can pay off significantly over time.
- Prevent Costly Issues – A roof inspection with a professional roofing company can help prevent issues by identifying problem areas early and fixing them as necessary.
- Prolong Your Roof’s Lifespan – Metals are known for their long lifetime. But neglect can shorten their lifespan considerably.
- Enhance Your Roof’s Aesthetic – When you take care of your metal roof, you take care of the whole look of your home and keep things looking new for years to come.
- It Helps Keep Your Metal Panels Clean – Part of regular maintenance is using a professional roofing contractor to gently clean the panels and check for weak spots. It’s best to have this professionally done to prevent roof damage by walking on the roof incorrectly.
- Keep Snow and Ice Dams Off the Roof – Snow and ice dams should fall off of a metal roof quite easily. If they don’t, you can brush snow off with a long-handled broom or soft brush. Don’t use metal tools as they can cause more damage than good.
- It Helps Keep Your Gutters and Drains Clean – Any moisture, debris, and pests in your gutters can erode your roofing materials. As you maintain your roof properly and keep your gutters clean you are eliminating clogged gutters and problems caused by the debris.
- Keep Debris Away From Valleys – If you get leaves or branches caught on the valleys of your roof, they can scratch, scuff, and damage the metal. Having these removed from hard-to-reach areas prevents and protects your roof’s integrity and curb appeal.
- Detecting Damage and Repairing Minor Scratches – Proper maintenance of your roof will detect damage early and provide opportunities to roof repair minor scratches, before they become major scuffs, fading, or flaking.
- Keep Your Seams Firm and Strong – Seams are one of the most vulnerable areas of metal roofing. Regular inspections and maintenance can keep your seams firm and strong every season.
- Keep Your Roof Free of Corrosion and Rust – During an inspection, your roofing contractor will check for rust, corrosion, and weak spots due to chemicals, steam, or heat released from the home. A qualified professional knows what to look for and how to take care of it early on to prevent problems later.
Frequent Questions About Repairing a Metal Roof