How Do I Find A Water Leak In My Roof?
Nothing is quite as frustrating as a roof that leaks. Everyone relates to what Robert Heinlein says about roofs that leak. He said, “When it don’t rain, the roof don’t leak; when it rains, I can’t fix it nohow.” Finding a water leak in a roof can be like going on a hunting expedition. The origin of a water leak on a roof can be very hard to find. Elusive, because where you might find water stains on the underside of your roof’s decking, or on the ceiling in the interior of your house doesn’t mean that’s where the leak is. Water may enter in one spot on the roof but run to another.
Water leaks can be caused by a number of reasons. Missing shingles are the most obvious tell-tell sign of where a water leak may originate. But there are other reasons a roof might leak like in a roof valley that was not properly installed, roofing nails that have backed out, flashing that has rusted out, roof pipe boots that have cracked or roof caulk that has released. Or it may be that the roof has been damaged by a falling tree limb or other debris. Another culprit can be loose shingles that when the wind is blowing allows driving rain to blow up underneath them.
There are some areas on the roof that are more prone to water leaks than others like ridge cap, valley flashing, around chimneys, dormers, and skylights. The easiest way to resolve the problem of having a water leak is to hire a roofing contractor or qualified handyman with roofing experience. But, if you want to tackle tracking down the water leak yourself you can. But you should be aware that sometimes even experienced roofers can have a hard time tracking a leak.
The first thing you want to do is start at the obvious sign of water damage and work your way to the point where the water entered. Next, grab a flashlight and get into your attic. Look for water stains, discoloration, or mold on the decking and rafters. Once you find signs of a roof leak mark it using chalk or make a mental note of where it is.
At this point you want to enlist the help of a friend or family member. One of you will need to be on top of the roof above where you located the stain inside the attic. With a water hose run water over and above that area. You may need to spray the water over skylights, around pipe vents, and down the side of chimneys and dormers.
Meanwhile, the other is inside the attic watching for the water to enter. The water will enter at the point of origin and will indicate where the roof needs repair. Once the leak is found the repair can begin. Most leaks can be repaired easily with roofing caulk or a shingle or two replaced.