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How to Find a Roof Leak in 7 Easy Steps

Published on Wednesday June 12, 2024
Finding a roof leak

Leaky roofs aren’t just a nuisance. They can range from a slight drip during a particularly heavy rainstorm to stagnant water in your walls that can cause mold and damage your house. If you suspect you have a leaky roof, the important thing is to find the source as soon as possible so you can have it fixed.

Here are the seven steps you can take to locate even the hardest-to-find roof leaks in your home.

Rain on roof

How to Detect Roof Leaks

Sometimes, finding a roof leak is simple. You’ll see or feel it as it’s happening. Other times, you know it’s there – perhaps you can hear the drip-drip-drip – but you can’t seem to find the source. Before spending money on a professional roofer, try these steps.

1. Inspect Your Home

Leaks can be sneaky. They can happen inside your walls or up in your attic without you knowing until damage has been done, usually after a heavy rainstorm

Tell-tale signs that you have a sneaky roof leak include:

  • Water stains on walls or ceilings
  • Musty smells or moldy odors
  • Missing, warped, or damaged roof shingles
  • Bulging sections on interior walls
  • Water-damaged exterior siding 
  • If you have a metal roof, look for rust 

2. Rule Out an Interior Water Leak

Just because you’ve located a section of water damage in your home doesn’t necessarily mean you have a roof leak. Before you call that roofer, rule out the possibility of other types of leaks. 

Other sources of water in your home might be leaking, including plumbing pipes or your HVAC unit and water heater. Wherever you have running water, like bathrooms, laundry rooms, or kitchens, you may also have leaking water.

Once you’ve ruled out interior leaks, you can move forward with looking for roof leaks.

3. Check Your Attic

Your attic lives directly underneath your roof and may show signs of a leak. While in the attic, be very careful where you step so you don’t fall through the ceiling. Be sure to inspect as much of your attic space as you safely can. Consider bringing a flashlight to examine any hard-to-see areas. Look for mold, water stains, or musty smells around the rafters and roof sheathing. Any signs of water damage could mean a leak in your roof. 

4. Check Your Roof’s Exterior

Some of the most obvious signs of a roof leak can be spotted directly at the source – your roof. If you’re comfortable climbing up a ladder, check around any vents, chimneys, skylights, and seams for signs of water damage or water collection. While you’re up there, look out for loose or damaged shingles, missing nails, cracks, or staining. If there are piles of debris, such as a collection of leaves, look under them for signs of puddles (and then clear the debris as best you can).

5. Test Your Roof With Water

Just as you would test your doors and windows for drafts by feeling for air coming through them, you can check your roof for leaks with water. Have someone help you by staying inside near the place where you first noticed the signs of a roof leak. From outside, take a garden hose and begin spraying your roof slowly, one section at a time. Spend a couple of minutes in each section to really saturate your roof. Your helper should then be able to spot the leak coming in.

6. Pinpoint the Problem

Once you have identified the location of the leak, it becomes much easier to accurately locate the source of the problem on your roof. You can do this by comparing the water damage inside with a reference point, such as a chimney, window, or exterior wall, and then locating the corresponding area on the roof of your home.

7. Ask for Help

We don’t recommend trying to fix the leak issue yourself, as you could cause more damage if you not properly prepared. When dealing with roof leaks and repairs, always consult with an experienced roofing professional who can accurately assess the problem and offer an effective solution.

Roof damage

Let Long Replace Your Leaky Roof Today

Got a leaky roof? Long Roofing can help! We’ve been the roof replacement and installation experts along the East Coast for nearly eight decades. We offer peace of mind warranties on all our roofs, so you know you’re working with the best. 

Contact us today for a free estimate on your home’s new roof.

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