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Most roof leaks start out small and seep into the attic or ceiling space for years before you notice any damage. This leaves the rafters partially or completely rotted, since dry rot can set in even after you stop the source of moisture. Learn how to evaluate your damaged rafters and make the choice between hiring a repair team to stabilize or replace the beams.
Checking the Budget
For many families, the cost of roof repairs is the primary decision making factor. If the contractor or inspector who checks out the problem says you can choose freely from both options, repairing the rafters and leaving them in place will cost you a lot less. However, you will likely need to replace the rafters eventually when you are already paying for a new roof to make sure the structure stays stable.
Don't skimp on replacement if it is the only option. When the entire rafter has gone soft and crumbly, the wood is too far gone for coating with fluids or bracing with pieces of lumber. Once the roof is visibly sagging or gathering water, it's too late for rafter repairs.
Measuring the Damage
Probing the wood with a pointed item, like a screwdriver, is the easiest way to measure the spread and development of the rot. Poke around from both sides of each rafter and shine a flashlight at each spot to look for white fungus growth both on the surface and mixed into the soft fibers. Moderately intact wood works best for repairs instead of replacement. Signs of advanced damage, like cracking and bending, means you definitely need rafter replacement.
Considering the Hassle
If you still aren't sure which method you prefer the roof repair team to use, consider how much of a hassle you want to put up with during the work. Opening up the roof or ceiling to cut out and replace rafters takes a minimum of two or three days and makes quite a mess. The repair technicians still need to remove the ceiling panels or climb up in the attic to stabilize the rotten rafters, but they can complete much more work in a single day with less mess and noise.
Treating the Damage
Even small pockets of dry or wet rot need treatment from a professional, but you should still understand the process before it begins. First, the repair crew remove all pockets of soft and fully rotted wood and sand uneven or splintered areas. The contractors coat all stable and water damaged or dry rotted areas with a penetrating liquid wood preservative to stop the breakdown.
The team fills in any small gaps of missing wood with a fiberglass or wood fiber filler. If there is too much rot in one particular spot, the workers can cut out just a section of the rafter and attach two new lengths of stable lumber on both sides of the missing section. This is called sistering the rafter, and the price is still usually lower than a full or partial rafter replacement.
Replacing the Wood
When stabilization is no longer possible, prepare for a rafter replacement. The steps include:
Extensive and long term roof leaks tend to leave the plywood sheathing above the rafters completely rotted and soft too. If you need to replace an entire section of a roof because of a fallen limb or pooling water, go ahead and invest in a sectional roof replacement to protect the rest of the structure. You can alsoclick here for more info on this process or to search for local contractors.Share