What’s the hardest part of fixing a leaky roof? Often times it’s actually locating the leak. Just because you notice water stains on one part of your ceiling does not mean the leak is coming from directly above that point. Once water has penetrated your roof, it can travel a number of different ways before it arrives on your ceiling as a water stain. This is why roof repairs take a lot of detective work initially. If you’re looking speed up the process of fixing your leaky roof, here’s how you can locate the leak yourself.

Priority Fix

A leak in your roof should not be left unattended for long. The sooner you fix the problem, the less work will be required to fix it. Even over a short period of time, a small leak can cause major damage. Think mould, rotten framing, destroyed insulation, and damaged ceilings. The moment you notice something isn’t right, it’s a good idea to get in contact with a professional. The sooner you can take steps to fixing the problem, the better off you and your roof will be.

Warning Signs

Image courtesy of Home Spree

As we mentioned, actually finding the leak is the hardest part of the problem. But how do you know if you have a leak in your roof? A sure sign is if you have water stains that extend across ceilings or run down walls. If you notice a wet spot, this means the leak has been going on for a while, as it takes some time for the water to travel from your roof down to your ceiling. A wet spot on your ceiling will become more noticeable after particularly harsh weather. If you notice a spot soon after a rain or snow storm, it’s best to get in contact with a professional to have your leak taken care of as soon as possible.

Locating the Leak

Image courtesy of Todays Home Owner

Now that you know you have a leaky roof, it’s time to try and track down the location of the leak. Start by going outside and taking a walk around your property so you can view your roof. Be on the lookout for anything that could be penetrating the roof. Items that penetrate the roof are by far the most common source of leaks. It’s rare for leaks to develop in open areas of uninterrupted shingles, even on older roofs. Penetrations can include plumbing and roof vents, chimneys, dormers or anything else that projects through the roof. They can be several feet above the leak or to the right or left of it.

If your survey of the roof didn’t help you locate the cause of the leak, it’s time to move on to the attic. If you have an easily accessible attic, go up there on a rainy day with a flashlight. Water reflects light so by shining the flashlight around your attic ceiling you will be better able to find where the leak is coming in. Once you’ve found it, mark it either with a sticky note or a piece of duct tape with an arrow drawn on pointing to the spot. This will help the roofing company address the problem once they’re on the scene.

If the weather is clear but you still need to find the leak, there is another option. For this option, you will need the help of someone who is comfortable going up on the roof with a hose. Have your helper (or yourself if you’re comfortable) use the hose to wet different sections of your roof until you can spot the leak while in the attic. This method will help reveal both where the leak is on the roof and where it is inside your home. Both pieces that are very important in helping to locate and fix the problem.

If you’re still having a hard time locating the leak, try looking at spots where the roof is penetrated by foreign objects. This can be something as small as a stray nail that’s managed to pierce the roof. Also look at the area around chimneys and skylights. Even the smallest gap can lead to water making its way into your home.

Final Step

Now that you’ve learned how to find the source of the leak, it’s important to act quickly. Leaks only get worse over time, so it’s important you take action. The good news is that in many instances it takes only a modest repair to fix the leak. Sometimes all it takes is replacing a shingle. If you’re concerned about your roof, it’s always a good idea to have a professional come and assess the situation. When you’re ready to find a roofing professional near you, start on HomeStars and take comfort knowing your roofing issues will be taken care of.

Posted by Jessica Greaves

Jessica Greaves is a content writer for the HomeStars Blog.