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If you suspect you’ve got a leak in your roof, it can be hard to find and fix. If left unattended for too long, it can cause a significant amount of damage and make it difficult to continue living in your home. Let’s take a look at what you as a homeowner can do to spot roof leaks and fix them… and when to call in the professionals.
Before we start, make sure you know the type of roof material that’s on your home and how long it lasts. This will help you determine whether repair work or replacement is the most sensible option.
It’s recommended to inspect your roof once a year, but no matter how recently you completed your last regular home inspection, always be sure to check your roof after any kind of storm. Thunderstorms, hail, and other major weather events can cause damage even if your area isn’t hit particularly hard. Even if your property looks like it survived the storm without any major damage, you should always look for signs of a leaky roof.
Signs of a Leaky Roof
- Water stains on your ceiling – especially new ones that appear after a storm. Even small water spots are an early indication of a leak
- Damp spots on the ceiling, around air vents, and fireplaces
- Damp or moist paint or drywall around electrical outlets and light fixtures
- Unexplained dripping sounds inside your home
- Water stains are on the rafters in your attic or on the top floors of your home
- Drips or moisture on the walls, particularly after a major thaw
- Interior paint peeling or bubbling during a hard rain
- Loose shingles around your property
- Buckling or curling of your shingles
- The roof has changed colors, especially if localized to a certain spot
- Loose or exposed nails on the roof
- Cracked or damaged flashing around roof vents
- Damaged flashing or cracked sealants around the chimney
- Clogged/Loose Gutters or downspouts
- Moss or mold on exterior walls that appears to be growing
How to Check for Roof Leaks
Look at the parts of your roof that are higher than the stains on the inside and outside of your home. Look for holes and other visible damage to the roof from the outside.
Roof leaks aren’t limited to just areas around your plumbing, vents, and chimneys, so make sure you look at your entire roof, not just the areas close to those projections.
Next, if it is possible, access your attic. Use a flashlight and your smartphone camera to find evidence of a leaky roof, such as:
- Water stains
- Dark spots
- Any other inconsistencies
It’s best to look during the day when things are bright. The brighter the flashlight you have, the better. Travel upward from the source of the leak, paying attention to any dampness you see along the framing and underside of the roof. Look for marks and discolorations that are a result of moisture – especially if your local weather has been dry for an extended period.
Turn off the lights and look for pinholes where you can see daylight shining through. Closely inspect those areas. While inspecting your roof from the inside, never stand on insulation or the top part of the ceiling. Remain on the secure framing.
Finding the Source of the Leak
Chances are the water spots you see aren’t going to be close to the leak itself. Water travels downhill from the point where it enters your roof, so the source of the leak is likely much higher on the plane of the roof.
As you look for the source, think like water. It will typically come through broken shingles, corroded or poorly sealed flashing, vents, skylights, and areas where nails are loose or missing.
Sometimes, even with the best maintenance and inspection, you’ll find a roof leak that needs immediate repair. Or, you may find evidence of a leak but be unable to locate the source yourself. And if it’s outside normal business hours, it can be hard to find someone to come fix it for you. That’s why 24-hour emergency roof repair services are available.
If you have vaulted ceilings or otherwise lack access to your attic, you may need to go up on the roof yourself. Depending on your level of comfort and ability, you may not want to do this yourself. It’s perfectly acceptable to call in professional help.
Karstine Sanchez is a freelance writer and content marketer with Allstate Roofing. She enjoys writing home decor, maintenance, and improvement.