How to Find a Roof Leak

Interior of a leaking roof

If you’re worried your roof may have developed a leak, locating and repairing that leak as quickly as possible is imperative if you want to protect your home. Even a minor roof leak can lead to considerable water, mold, and even pest damage over time, especially if it’s been there for a while and you only recently noticed water was permeating the structure.

Unfortunately, finding a roof leak is usually the hardest part of fixing the damage. Leaks aren’t always easy to pinpoint since they often divert entering water to other areas of the roof. Even if you notice water stains in the attic or evidence of water damage somewhere on your ceiling, the weak point in your roof could be quite far from that part of your home. 

Fortunately, with a bit of detective work, you should be able to identify the leaky spot so you can have a professional roofing repair contractor fix the issue. And if you can’t find it yourself, call a pro — this is not something you want to put off for long.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to find a roof leak.

Inspect the Underside of Your Roof From Inside the Attic

Grab a flashlight and head into your attic to do some sleuthing. If your attic doesn’t have complete flooring, avoid stepping between the roof joists, or you may end up putting a foot or even your whole body through the ceiling of the room below you. 

Once you’re safely situated up there, use your flashlight to carefully examine the underside of your roof. You’ll want to keep an eye out for areas of the wood that appear to be darker than the rest of the sheathing, as those dark spots typically indicate that moisture has soaked into or is resting on the surface of the wood. 

If your area has had any precipitation recently, dark spots can be difficult to see, so look for signs of mildew or mold instead. Both of these fungal growths thrive in high-moisture areas, so if you find any evidence of them, chances are you’re fairly close to the part of your roof that’s leaking.

Look for Damaged Insulation

If you don’t see any wet or stained spots on the underside of the roof sheathing, inspect the insulation next. Usually, insulation deteriorates more rapidly and noticeably than wood, so this type of damage may be easier to identify. 

Keep in mind that if you notice a section of insulation that looks as though it’s suffered water damage, the leak itself could be several feet away from the area. If you have a pitched roof, gravity will force water to flow down the slope of the roof, which means it may have traveled several feet away from the leaky spot before it landed on the insulation. 

To find the hole, you’ll want to follow the damage back to the source of the water intrusion. You may need to remove the insulation adjacent to the water-damaged area before you can clearly see which insulation has deteriorated and which is still in good condition.

Always make sure you wear the appropriate protective gear when you’re handling insulation (gloves, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat, and possibly eye protection and a mask). Doing so will help ensure you don’t breathe in the fibers or suffer skin irritation from allowing your skin to come into contact with them. 

Inspect the Exterior of Your Roof

If you were able to identify any damaged areas within your attic, it’s time to head outdoors to take a look at the exterior of the roof. 

Look for damaged, missing, or lifted shingles or panels, damaged roof flashings, and other signs that a particular area of the roof may be vulnerable. While you’re up there, you may notice some additional damage you were previously unaware of, which you can have fixed when you schedule your roof leak repair. 

If It’s Unusually Dry Outside, Spray the Roof With Water

If it hasn’t rained in weeks, and you have a tough time identifying damage during your attic or exterior inspection, try spraying the roof of your home with water from your garden hose. You’ll need two people to simulate this rain storm — one on the roof spraying in sections and one in the attic with a flashlight watching for water drips.

By thoroughly dousing the roof with water, you should be able to see exactly where moisture is penetrating the shingles and sheathing. You might notice water running down the underside of the roof first, and you can then follow the moisture trail back to its source. 

Need Metal Roof Repairs in Dallas?

If you think your metal roof has developed a leak, let our team at Alpine Sheet Metal Systems fix it for you! We specialize in custom-fabricated metal roofing and serve both residential and commercial property owners throughout the greater DFW area. We hold a long-standing A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and have proudly served the area for nearly 30 years.To learn more about our roofing services or get a repair estimate, call our office today at 972-556-3825 or request a quote online, and we’ll get in touch with more information. 

ASMS Sheet Metal Fabrication

About Jeff Folsom

Jeff Folsom is the founder and president of Alpine Sheet Metal Systems, a key player in North Texas’s commercial construction sector, specializing in roofing and architectural design. He also leads Alpine Roofing Construction and Alpine Thermal Imaging Systems, expanding his influence across the U.S. Residing in Dallas, Jeff enjoys travel, auto racing, and boating in his free time.

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