How to Diagnose a Roof Leak

Signs of a leak in your roof such as extended water stains down the length of walls or across the ceiling can be easy to spot but tracking down the actual leak can prove to be much more difficult. Once you have pinpointed the origin of the leak in your roof fixing it can often be a very easy job.

Even minor leaks in a roof should be addressed and patched immediately as even the smallest of leaks can quickly turn into bigger problems such as damaged insulation and ceilings due to mold, mildew, and rotted framing and sheathing. There are some tips to employ that can make the process of locating a roof leak a little easier.

Diagnosing a Roof Leak

roof leakWhen looking for a roof leak the best place to start is uphill from any noticeable stains or standing water. Any penetrations of the actual roof, such as a chimney, ventilation openings, and plumbing should be inspected immediately and are often the most common source of leaks. It is rare to find leaks originating from open areas where shingles are undisturbed and any damage is not noticeable.

Accessing the attic of a home or building will provide the easiest way to track down the source of a leak. Evidence such as water stains, mold, or black marks and lines should be visible to the naked eye. If the building does not have attic access due to something like vaulted ceilings you will have to go onto the actual roof to investigate any leak. In the event signs of a leak are not clearly visible it may be time to employ the use of a garden hose and water.

Using a garden hose start by soaking the area directly signs of the leak inside your building, isolating the areas as you go. Have another person stay inside the building while you run the hose on top of the roof. This person should be able to spot any drips from the inside and you will know you are in the general vicinity of the leak. Do not be afraid to look closely at areas by removing shingles and looking for any visible signs.

Image By Spikebrennan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

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