A leaking roof may not seem a big problem. It’s simply a matter of leaving out a bucket to catch the drips when it rains, right? Wrong! The visible drips are just the tip of the iceberg. Behind the visible moisture is a raft of potentially unseen problems, from mould and mildew to electrical faults to moisture damage to structural elements. Over time, these sorts of problems can become incredibly costly to fix. They can also present health and safety problems and, in extreme cases, even compromise the structural integrity of your home.
So, it goes without saying that roof leaks should be fixed as soon as they’re found. However, locating the source of the leak isn’t always easy.
Why it can be difficult to spot a leak
The pitch of your roof means that it’s unlikely water will directly drip down from the hole. Instead, it may run down the internal roof structure before dripping, making it seem like the hole is somewhere else.
How to find a leak
The first step to finding a roof leak is to pay close attention to the inside of your home. Look for water stains on ceilings and walls. You may even see places where the paint has started to bulge or peel. Wherever you spot these irregularities, there’s a good chance there’s a leak above them.
You can also follow your nose to get a general idea of where roof leaks are. A musty odour can mean mould or damp is present, which is a clear signal of moisture.
Once you’ve got a general idea of where to look, you can enter your roof space. Pick a rainy day or ask someone to gently spray your roof with a hose. This way, you can see the leak in action.
Using a torch, look for any water in your roof. Don’t forget to use additional cues like water stains and marks, along with mould, to help you narrow your search area.
If you find water, follow it back to its source. This may mean tracing it along roof beams. When you find the source, mark it using a piece of chalk, so you can find it again.
You can then climb onto the roof and find the corresponding spot on the roof’s exterior. It may help to have another person in the roof space to guide you to the correct location.
Your job is now to find exactly how water is getting in. There may be an obvious hole but usually it requires some thorough searching.
Common sites of penetration include around the ridge cap, flashing, gutters and downspouts, dormer valleys, and the gaskets around pipes. There may also be cracks in shingles or tiles. As you move around on the roof, take care not to cause any further damage.
How to fix a roof leak
How you carry out roof leak repair often depends on what has caused the leak in the first place. For instance, you may need to replace damaged or broken shingles or tiles. Alternatively, if flashing has started to pull away from the roof, some well-applied caulk can be a quick fix.
However, it’s often best to get a professional to handle the job. They can ensure that the fix will work and may even spot and deal with any other leaks in the making.
There’s no excuse for ignoring a roof leak — follow the steps above to find the cause for any leaks in your roof and get them sorted today.