How To Locate Leaks In The Roof And Make Temporary Repairs

Posted on: 7 November 2016

Leaks in the roof can be difficult to pinpoint. Water stains or drips inside the home may appear at a distance from the actual leak, as the water may run down a beam or other structure inside the wall or ceiling before it surfaces where you can see it.  Follow these tips for locating a leak in your roof and making a temporary fix until you can arrange for the roofers to repair the roof.

Check the Attic

If you have access to the attic, your search for the source of the leaks should begin there. Use a high-powered flashlight to scan the attic ceiling for any signs of a leak. You may see water stains, encounter dripping water, or see areas of rotted or damaged wood or sheet rock. Note the location of the leak so that you can make temporary repairs to the roof.  To make this easier, measure the distance from the eaves, peak, or other easy-to-identify structure. These measurements will help you pinpoint the spot on the roof from the outside.

You may also notice the glint of wet or iced nails that missed the mark when your roofers installed the roof. These nails, sometimes referred to as shiners, collect moisture from the air in your home that frosts at night and thaws during the day. When thawed, the moisture drips into the home causing water damage and stains. You can solve this problem right away by nipping the screws flush with the ceiling with a pair of side-cutting pliers.

Check the Roof

If you can't pinpoint the leak from the attic, you will need to take your investigation skills to the roof. Here's what you will need to do.

Visually inspect the roof for any obvious signs of leak, such as missing shingles, damaged areas, or cracks around chimneys and vents. Inspect anything that penetrates the roof, such as plumbing vents, chimneys, or dormers for any signs of damaged flashing, missing screws, or other damage that may let in water.

Remove shingles from the suspected leak area and look for signs of a leak, such as discolored felt paper or rotted wood. Follow the signs upward until you find the source.

Use a garden hose to track down the source of the leak if you can't find it visually. Have a helper watch for signs of water entering the home as you pour water over the roof. Do this in sections, such as the side of the chimney or around a vent. Move to a new section if no leaks are detected.

Make Temporary Repairs

Replace screws or replace damaged flashing around pipes, chimneys, vents or the area where two faces of the building connect, if there are signs of damage. These are the most common areas for water leaks in your roof. You should also replace individual shingles, if feasible.

Use a large tarp to cover the roof and prevent water from entering the home until your roofer is available. You can even use this method to seal the leaks during the winter until the weather warms enough for the roofers to work. Begin at the peak and spread the tarp over the rooftop so that it overhangs to the opposite side of the roof by several feet. Wrap the overhang around a heavy plank and staple it in place on the plank. Make sure the planks run the entire length of the tarp. These will hold the tarp in place at the top of the roof. Use the grommet holes on the ends of the tarp where it extends over the eaves to tie it in place. You can tie it to a nearby tree or hang weights from the grommet holes to prevent it from blowing in the wind.

Identifying the source of your roof leak and making temporary repairs will keep water out until a roofing company like Northridge Roofing arrives.