How to Locate a Leak on Your Roof

rainy roof

Why is my roof is leaking?  What do I do if I find a leak?  Discovering that your roof is not doing its job can cause frustration and anxiety.  However, there is a simple step by step process that will help you know what to do when you find a leak, how to locate it’s source, and what steps you need to take to prevent further damage.

Is My Roof Leaking?

locate a leak roof repair missouri blue springs kansas cityTo determine if your roof is leaking, check the water damage during a rain storm or while snow is melting on your roof.  If the damage shows up within 5 hours of recent rain or snow activity, it is probably the result of a roof leak.  If the damage occurs outside of this 5 hour range, you may want to have the area checked by a plumber.

Even if you find sign of water damage in your attic, these signs may not equate to a current leak.  For example, if your house is 50 years old, it would have had two or three layers of roofing, and the leak could have occurred anywhere during the life of either roof.  A water stain on the roof’s rafters is often what sets off an alarm with the building or home owner, but is far from conclusive evidence of an existing leak.

Not All Water Damage Comes from the Roof

It is important to keep in mind that if you find a sign of water damage in your ceiling or wall, it does not necessarily mean that your roof is leaking.  The problem could also be the result of leaky plumbing or even condensation.

How to Locate a Leak

Once you are confident that your roof is leaking, you can call a certified roofing contractor to locate and repair the leak.  If you would like to find the source of the leak yourself, we have provided a step by step guide.

To find a leak:

  1. Determine how many roof layers is on your home.  If your pitched roof has only one layer, it is much easier to find the source of the leak.
  2. Locate the area where the leak is manifesting itself inside your home.
  3. Transfer this area up to the roof.  Is it coming through a penetration such as a pipe, ventilation, swamp cooler, chimney, or skylight?  The majority of roof leaks come in around penetrations.  Look within 5 feet uphill of the affected area, though it can be as far as 10.
  4. If you locate a penetration within this area, look for problems with the flashing.  These are usually very simple repairs.
  5. If there are no penetrations within this area, look for blown off shingles, torn shingles, and nails coming through.  Also, pay close attention to valleys, as these areas tend to leak as well.

Throughout this process, remember that water runs downhill.  If moisture penetrates the roof, it sometimes travels down and even diagonally in both directions before finding it’s way through the underlayment.  Once through the underlayment, it needs to find a seam in the roofs sheathing.  Then, the water will either drop to the ceiling’s insulation or travel down a rafter.  Once the moisture is on the ceiling, it will usually soak up some insulation before finding it’s way to the sheet rock or plaster ceiling material.  About 90% of the time, the leak will manifest itself in a joint in the sheet rock.

What To Do if Your Roof IS Leaking

With any leak, water can build up and put a heavy amount of weight on your ceiling.  If you see a bulge in the sheet rock or paint of the affected area, you will want to drain the water to prevent the sheet rock from collapsing and causing more damage to your home.  Simply put a bucket under the affected area and poke a hole in the sheet rock with a 16 penny nail to drain the water.

More complicated leaks should be repaired by experienced professionals.

Bill West Roofing is able to both locate leaks and effectively repair them.  We install a large majority of roofing products.  We also offer free estimates.

For more information, contact us today!

Scroll to Top