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How to Seal a Leak in a Tin Roof

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Steve in Kentucky is on the line with a roofing question. Tell us what’s going on.

    STEVE: Hi, Leslie. Well, I’ve got a little 1930s – early 30s – farmhouse that we’re restoring and trying to get a little environmental project going up there.

    TOM: OK.

    STEVE: And we have a couple of leaks. We’ve had a record rainfall down here in Louisville this last year and we noticed that when it’s a really hard rain out of the west, that along the seams of the old tin roof, we get – well, it’s like a wetness and then it turns into a drip in different locations.

    And I’m just wondering what’s the proper way to seal something like that up where we don’t have to, you know, pull the whole roof to get it.

    TOM: Now, what kind of tin roof do you have? Is it a flat-seam metal roof or is it a standing-seam metal roof?

    STEVE: It’s a standing-seam metal roof.

    TOM: OK. And has it ever been covered with tar or anything like that to try to seal it up?

    STEVE: No, it’s still the original tin.

    TOM: OK. So …

    STEVE: It has a little paint on it.

    TOM: Right. I mean that’s a good thing because, typically, the way you fix those is you solder them. And to do that, you have to strip the paint off, identify the sort of worn-out area. There’s probably a worn-out, cracked, rusted-out area and the repair would be to solder it. And that’s actually a good thing, Steve, because if you solder it, it’s sort of a lifetime repair.

    What happens with these – too many of these metal roofs, though – is that folks don’t want to take sort of the long approach to this repair and they will cover it with tar or caulk or something of that nature. And in doing so, eventually the water gets underneath that and then it seriously rusts it out pretty quickly.

    STEVE: Right.

    TOM: So the secret to success here is to try to find somebody who’s been around long enough that knows how to resolder a metal roof. And that will fix it permanently.

    STEVE: OK. And I’m assuming that that’s probably some specialized tools then.

    TOM: Well, just the right-size torches and solder and all of that sort of thing, yeah. But the guys that do metal roofs have those tools.

    STEVE: Great. And is that – I guess maybe I ought to go up there with them. If I can get them fix it, I’ll watch and learn a little bit.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, then, you’d be able to do it yourself next time, right?

    STEVE: Maybe so, maybe so. Well, I appreciate the advice and I’ll look along that path. And I just want to let you know that we really enjoy you all’s show down here in Louisville.

    TOM: Well, thank you so very much and good luck with that project. Remember, when you’re working with that heat up in that roof, too, that there’s a fire hazard associated with this repair, too. So just make sure that you’re super-super-careful, OK, Steve? We don’t want you to call us back and ask us how to rebuild the building as the next call, OK?

    STEVE: Nope. I think I’ll put somebody with a fire extinguisher in the attic and we’ll do it on a little spring day.

    LESLIE: Thanks for calling The Money Pit.

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