How to Find a Roof Leak

A leaking roof is easy to detect, isn’t it?  Although you’d think that a leaking roof would lead you right to the trouble spot, that’s not always the case.  In fact, rarely does a roof leak directly where the repair is actually needed.  This is because a roofing system is composed of multiple parts and layers, so if there’s a bad spot in the roof, the water can be misdirected by things like insulation, beams, underlayment, and other components.  So, you might spot the leak in the corner of your living room, but the actual hole or damaged area could even be near the opposite side.

With that being said, roofing repair jobs are in reality, quite demanding, and require a fair amount of investigative work on your (or your contractor’s) end.  But once you begin to learn the warning signs of a roof leak and what to look for (and where to look for it), resolving a roof leak becomes less daunting, and more importantly, less damaging.  The quicker you can track down the source of the leak, the faster you can stop the damages, and save yourself some money what might end up being expensive repairs.

Start at the Underbelly: The Attic

The attic is a telltale indicator if something is awry with your roofing system.  It’s the first place you should investigate if you sense that something isn’t right, if there’s been a big storm that you’re afraid has caused damage to your roof, and after every winter season when heavy snow and ice sits on your shingles.  Not all attics were created equally, so if yours isn’t furnished with a steady floor, be careful, and be sure to bring a flashlight to guide you and to help you detect the roof leak quickly.

To truly be able to pin down a leak, visit your attic after a heavy rain.  The vulnerable spots will become moist and easier to detect.  If it hasn’t rained recently, you still might be able to track down the trouble spots from the existence of black marks, mold, or dried water stains.  The presence of mold alone should be a good reason why you should immediately fix roof leaks, even if you don’t intend of getting a new roof.

Follow the Insulation

If insulation is in the way, consider that a good thing.  Insulation deteriorates quicker than wood and is more obvious to track leaks.  When you see ruined insulation, keep in mind that the leak’s source could be several feet away as it might have been diverted by the insulation itself, rafters, or other parts of the attic.  While wearing protective gear, carefully remove the damaged insulation (including the insulation adjacent to the spot you’re seeing signs of leaking).

Follow the path of the leak to where the water would enter from the roof.  Check to see if an object has pierced the roofing system and is at fault for the leak.  This could be something as small as a nail or damage that was caused by a storm or falling piece of debris.

If your roof doesn’t appear to have any obvious signs of physical damage that would be the reason behind the leak, then next move to the roof vents.  These could be the source of leak as their seals can weaken and deteriorate over time.  A worn seal can invite rainwater to seep in, and in reality, you should be checking them regardless to make sure they’re forming a tight connection.

A Neat Trick

Still can’t find the leak’s source or you’re currently suffering from a drought that hasn’t shed any light on helping you locate it?  No worries, there’s a trick you can employ in this exact scenario.  First, you’ll need an extra pair of hands, so get someone to help you out.  Then, you’ll need a garden hose.

Run the garden hose to the top of your roof and spray down the surface.  Have your friend stand inside the house and wait for the leak to become visible while you wet down the roof, letting it soak the surface for several minutes.  This process, while it does take longer than the traditional hunt based on signs of leaking, is still effective, so give it some time.

Start removing the shingles once both of you have narrowed down the location of the leak.  Removing the shingles will make the leak even more apparent and allow you to further home in on where the leak is coming from—plus you’ll need to do this to properly repair it anyway.  You should see signs of discolored felt paper and wood that’s rotted and water stained.

Water leaking from the roof damaging the ceiling and causing risk of electricity short circuit / House problem concept

Making the Fix

You don’t have to get a whole new roof to fix a leak.  Most of the time, the majority of leaks are caused by a puncture hole, which can be repaired.  All it takes is a galvanized sheet metal flashing that can be picked up at any hardware store.  This is a temporary fix, however, so continue to check it and consider getting a professional out to inspect your roof in the future.

Even a temporary fix is better than no fix at all.  While the job of tracking down a leak and its source may be tedious, you’ll thank yourself when you’ve stopped what could be expensive damages caused by water and moisture infiltration.

Always Go with Professionals for Roof Replacement and Repair

Whenever you’re making improvements to your home, you always want to go with professionals. This is essential to quality, safety and security. But as a customer, don’t be afraid to speak up and trust your gut. Enjoy your home for years to come knowing there’s a solid roof over your head.

At Feldco Roofing, we provide breakthrough design and triple layer protection to keep your roof insulated throughout the year. For a roof replacement, our installers are factory trained, experienced and professional to get the job done correctly. Speak to a product specialist and get a free quote online today.


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