How To Find A Roof Leak
Follow the instructions below to learn how to find a roof leak. This information is taken straight from the manual that we take our team through. The last thing you need is for someone to repair your roof and not actually fix the problem. Following these steps will ensure you find the exact cause of the roof leak and perform the correct roof repair.
Some roof leaks are so easy to find that you don’t need all these details. But for those situations where a leak is tricky, you will absolutely want to know the steps we take on how to find a roof leak.
Look Inside The Residence.
Looking inside might seem obvious but there are a few specific steps to take that will help you gather more information. You need to take pictures that will help you track if the leak gets bigger in the future. Tracing the edges of the drywall stain with a pencil will help you know for sure if the stain grows. This becomes specifically helpful after the leak is repaired.
Measure the distance between the center of the leak and two different outside walls. This will help you once you are in the attic and on the roof. You will also need to measure the distance from the leak to the attic entrance. This will help you find your way back to the leak once you are in the attic.
Inspect The Attic.
As good as you might think you are, you need to look in the attic. I’ve seen leaks travel up to 20-feet, the only way to find these difficult leaks is to look in the attic, otherwise, we are just playing a guessing game.
Take your measurements from step one and use these to find the water damage in the attic. You will most likely find insulation that has water stains on it. Remove the insulation and find the water stains, and of course, take more pictures. This will help if the leak comes from another place or to show the homeowner and build trust.
Once you identify the leak, measure again from two outside walls and use this once you are on top of the roof. Also, inspect the roof decking from below for water stains.
Another tip, if you look at dust in the attic, you will see water stains that moved the dust. For example, on an HVAC vent or on the pipes. If you have a hole in the plywood from penetration, and water is coming through the hole vs on the actual pipe then it might be coming from higher up the roof and not the actual pipe.
On Top Of The Roof
It’s not enough to just look at the roof, you must follow the steps before this. Figuring out how to find a roof leak is only as effective as the information you gathered in the first two steps.
Take the measurements and pictures from the attic and use them to pinpoint the entry point on the rooftop. Remember that water on a sloped roof can travel from the top of the peak down to your entry point and as wide as four feet on either side of your entry point.
So when you locate the exact measuring point, start looking at the right and left and up the roof. You are looking for small holes, tears in the material, and rusty nails. If you find a rusty nail, keep looking high up the roof till you find the highest rusty nail.
On a flat roof, you will need to look in every direction for 20-feet. Most roof decking panels on flat roofs will run up to 20-feet. Start with the obvious items like pipes and flashing. If you find nothing, start looking for the smallest puncture in the roof.
Additional Roof Leak Help
While the points listed above are normally all you will need, there are occasions where finding a roof leak can be extremely difficult. So here are a few more items that can help out.
Using a moisture meter at each stage of the inspection, from inside the drywall, in the attic, and on the roof. Or keep an eye out for dust on a flat roof from ponding water, this will typically be a sign of poor drainage, which can cause leaks in the seams.
Also, learn the history of the roof and other repairs. Sometimes a roof is only partially repaired in one area and that causes water to be redirected to another portion of the roof.
Perhaps you are finding that it really is hard to figure out how to find a roof leak? Get a second set of eyes on the leak and compare notes.
When all else fails, try a water test or opening the roof. A water test is best performed by having one person in the attic or house and the other person on the roof with the hose. Spray the roof at the lowest point first and work your way up and away from the leak.
Opening up the roof is sometimes the only option to find the leak. Once it’s open you can see posture stains or water and start to follow to the entry point. But again, both of these options can wait till the very end if you are having trouble figuring out how to find a roof leak.