Detective You: Recognizing That You Have A Leaky Roof, And How To Find The Leak

6 January 2015
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog

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Maintaining a home is a lot like taking care of your health; problems crop up at the most inconvenient of times, and if left unchecked, small issues have a tendency to blow up into major (and costly) disasters. A leaky roof is one such calamity. Initial symptoms of a leaky roof can seem innocuous at first; a project better left for another day. However, leaving a leaky roof unattended can have disastrous and costly consequences.

Read on to learn about how to properly assess whether you have a leaky roof, and how to play detective to find the source of leakage, before the inconvenience grows to a full fledged disaster. 

How to Tell If Your Roof is Leaking

It might seem like a fairly simple thing to assess: if you have water dripping from your ceiling, that means a leaky roof, right? Not so fast, cowboy. 

Unless you've had the unlucky misfortune of a small meteor landing through your roof, odds are your roof leak will be very small, and won't just start dripping or pouring water to alert you to the problem. You are far more likely to have a slow leak, which yields smaller clues that are much harder to spot. 

Look for water spots on the ceiling. These might be slight discolorations, bulges in paint that may crack, or wide swaths of damp looking ceiling. While it is true that water spots can sometimes be caused by simple condensation from windows being open or even buildup of condensate dripping off of plumbing pipes, you can determine that it's a roof leak if the spots show up or get worse during a rainstorm. If this is the case, it's time to find out where the roof is leaking.

Finding the Leak on Your Roof

You've determined that the roof is leaky, so now you just need to find the leaky spot and patch it up, right? Unfortunately, it may be a bit more complicated than simply marking where the water spots are on your ceiling, and going straight up through to the roof. 

Water is a sneaky intruder, and typically won't yield it's entry point that easily. To find the leak location, you must think like water, and follow the clues like a detective working backwards from the source of the leak. Grab a flashlight, head up to your attic, and start from where the water spots are appearing on the ceiling, and find the bread crumb clues in the wood framing to start to get a sense of where the water might be coming in from.

Water will typically find its way in through missing or worn out shingles, or from chimneys or vents whose flashings have lost their sealant. Look to these points and see if you can find any clues that can lead you to the gap in your roofing defenses. Once you have found the source of the leak, you can plan your next move depending on the severity.

I've Found the Leak, Now What?

At this point, you can determine whether you can fix the job yourself, or call in a roofing specialist (such as those from Accurate Roofing) to fix it for you. The benefit of locating the leak yourself means you can fix the problem yourself, which besides boosting your confidence as a handy person to have around the house, also can save you money. Even if you opt to have a professional fix the leak, your sleuthing skills will still save you on the final bill, as the roofer won't be billing you for time spent finding the leak themselves.