How to Spot Roof Leaks

Your home should be warm and dry, a safe haven against the storms of the world. However, if your roof is older, or you’ve been battered by storms, or even if you were the victim of shoddy construction, your home might not be as snug and dry as you expect. Roof leaks are insidious – a seemingly small leak can cause major damage. And what’s more, they’re very hard to detect until the damage has already been done. What should you know about spotting roof leaks? Here’s a brief guide to get you started.

Locate Water Stains

Often, the first sign that you have a need to fix roof leaks is water staining your ceiling or where the celling and a wall meet. Dark spots are a good sign that water’s collecting on the material, and the most likely place for that water to come from is from a leak in your roof (unless you have an older home, and the water pipes are in the ceiling, but that’s an entirely different problem).

Once you spot water stains on the ceiling, it’s time to head outdoors so you can get a look at the roof’s exterior. Find a location where you can look uphill from the leak’s location. Look for signs of damage, including punctures, torn or missing shingles and the like. If you can’t get a good look, you’ll need to head into the attic to investigate. Look for the marks of water running down the inside of the roof and follow them to their source.

Less Obvious Leaks

Before you can fix roof leaks, you have to find them. The problem is that some leaks aren’t from obvious sources. Your shingles might be in perfect condition, and there might be no debris or other damage to your roof. Where do you turn then? In these instances, you can look for less obvious sources of your leak. Look in places like:

  • Plumbing vents – Check for loose or missing nails and torn rubber
  • Chimneys – Check for damaged flashing, missing rubber or damaged seals
  • Roof vents – Check for cracked seals or damaged vents
  • Complex roofs – If your roof is more complex than a two-sided structure, check for missing flashing where walls and roof sections join
  • Roof-mounted windows – Check for damaged or cracked caulking around dormer windows and other roof-mounted features
  • Mounting holes – If you’ve had something like a satellite dish mounted on your roof, make sure the mounting holes are covered over
  • Step flashing – Step flashing can move very easily, allowing a significant amount of water into your roof

Know When You Need Help

While you can repair roof leaks easily enough if they’re small and basic, some leaks will require the help of a professional. Make sure you contact an experienced roofer to help repair major leaks, or to identify leaks that you can’t spot on your own. Look for a roofer with significant experience, and that uses high quality materials and techniques to repair leaking roofs.

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