Top 7 Hacks for Finding Roof Leaks [2022 Ultimate Guide]

September 12, 2019

It’s important to locate a roof leak early to avoid more costly repairs in the long run.

But how can you efficiently locate a leak every time?

Finding the source can be challenging because the roof is such a large surface and leaks come in through very small openings.

In this guide I’m going to lay out a foolproof plan to locate the source of your leaky roof.

Chapter 1: Where to find the majority of roof leaks

A pesky roof leak can damage your home and it is always best to take care of the problem as soon as you recognize it. The first step in taking care of the leak is finding the source and I’ll show you what to look for in this chapter.

A roof is built to withstand the elements, but naturally there will be some wear and tear. You want to look for clear signs of deterioration, because that’s how water gets in through your roof. For example, you want to look for a shingle that may have slipped off its mark, or a nail that has popped out of its slot.

Make sure to closely examine all intersections on the roof, as many leaks originate from these more complicated areas. If there are no clear signs of deterioration, don’t fret, because I have plenty of other methods to locate trickier-to-find leaks.

Chapter 2: How to get to the source of the damaging leak

It’s important to note that the source of the leak is not often in the same spot at the drip in your house. You should put out a bucket to catch the water as it falls off your ceiling, but now it’s time to think like the water.

Water abides by the law of gravity, so when you have a drip in your house, it is smart to look to higher points on your roof for the source. The water can bend and wrap around support beams, rafters, and sheathing so it’s not always simple to find from where it is originating.

Since water flows so freely along your ceiling it is important to stay concentrated when following the descriptive methods I illustrate in the next chapters.

Chapter 3: How to search for the source from the inside

An easy way to think like water and find the source of the leak is to work from inside the house. Although this is typically safer than working on the roof, it is still important to take safety precautions.

You’re going to want to be close to the drip, so if you have an attic you’re going to start there. Once you are near the drip spot, you want to look for any water stains leading up the roof. By following these stains, you’ll be getting closer and closer to the source.

When the water stains run out, measure the distance from the peak of the roof to the top of the water marks. You’re going to use this length when you’re working on the outside. At this point, if there are no clear openings in the roof, it’s time to work outside.

Chapter 4: How to search for the source from the outside

You are most likely to find the source of your leak while working on the roof, but again, be safe while working at such heights. It is imperative now, on the roof, more than ever to be attentive to detail. You will be looking for any inconsistencies along the surface of the roof.

You want the roof to be dry, so make sure to wait as long as you need to after rainfall before you start work. As a starting point, use the length that you measured while inside the house to locate the general area of the leak.

Examine the area for any moisture, since the roof should be dry, this will help identify where there is water backing up and seeping through to the inside. If you run into any nails that have rusted, you have found your source. Rust is a tremendous identifier for roof leaks, so always keep an eye out for any sign of rust.

If you have still not found the source of your leak, chapter 5 is the chapter for you.

Chapter 5: How to isolate the leak for certain

Sometimes the source of a leak can be so evasive that you need to recruit a friend to help you. Using the water testing method that I’m going to show you in this chapter, you should be able to locate a leak every time.

In order for this step to work it needs to be a dry day. Have your friend stand on the roof with hose and start spraying the entire roof, bottom to top. While your friend is on the roof, you want to be in the attic.

At some point while your friend is flooding the roof, water will leak into the attic and you will be able to mark the point of entry – thus finding the source of the leak! Make sure to bring a bucket up to the attic to catch the hose water that seeps through!

Chapter 6: How to find the leak in your roof safely

I’ve mentioned safety a couple of times already in this guide, but this chapter is here to reinforce the idea that safety comes first. If there is ever a point you don’t feel comfortable working on your roof, it is best to call a professional and have them work it out for you.

If it is still your intention to do the work on your own, make sure you are doing it safely. Make sure the floorboards you step on in the attic are solid. If you are outside on the roof, ensure it is dry – never go on the roof during a thunderstorm! Use your instincts, if the roof seems too steep, then call the pros!

Chapter 7: Ways to fix your leaky roof

Now that the source of the leak has been located, you need to find a way to fix it. This chapter will lay out a few directions you can follow in order to get the problem taken care of in a timely manner.

Ultimately, the best way to get your roof fixed is to hire a professional in Frederick, MD & Silver Spring, MD. Politz Enterprises is a great residential roofing company to get the job done quickly.  If you need help with a roof replacement outside of the US, check out Eastern Melbourne Roofing.  This will solve the issue permanently, but if you need a quick temporary fix all you need is a tarp. Staple the tarp to a squared arrangement of 2 by 4s, set it over the leak source, and voila!

The last simple fix I have to offer in this comprehensive guide it to place a sheet of metal flashing underneath the shingle that has a hole causing the leak. This fix is also a temporary one, but it can hold off the leak until you get a professional to come out and take a look at your roof.