Homeownership comes with numerous not-so-fun surprises. From a clogged sink to garden weeds to a dreaded leaky roof, it seems your guard always has to be on and prepared for something to go wrong.

A roof leak is no joke. By the time you’ve noticed the leak, there’s likely already been some damage done, so it’s important to act fast to avoid extensive water damage. If the leak was caused by storm damage, it’s possible that homeowners insurance will cover the leak. But first, you have to find it! Put your detective hat on and follow these 7 steps to learn how to find a roof leak.

How To Find A Roof Leak In 7 Simple Steps

Step 1: Look for Tell-Tale Signs of a Leak

when learning how to find a roof leak, look for water stains on the ceiling like the one pictured here

As a homeowner, it’s wise to educate yourself on common signs of damage. In the instance of a roof leak, there are certain tell-tale signs that indicate you could be dealing with water damage. Keep your eyes peeled for:

  • Water stains on ceilings or walls
  • Hearing dripping water
  • Bulging sections on interior walls
  • Missing or damaged shingles
  • Mold growth on walls or ceilings
  • Musty smells inside
  • Rust on a metal roof
  • Damaged exterior siding
  • Clogged gutters or downspouts

If you notice one or multiple of these signs, you’re likely dealing with a leak of some kind. Following the rest of these steps will help you determine if it’s a roof leak or a different kind of leak.

Step 2: Make Sure It’s Not an Interior Leak

Before you call a roofing professional to deal with a leak, it’s wise to determine if the leak is actually coming from the roof. It’s possible that the leak is caused by some internal issue. Do some digging and check other appliances inside your home that could possibly leak.

  • Make sure your HVAC unit is working properly.
  • Inspect your water heater.
  • Check for faulty piping.
  • Check for leaks coming from sinks, toilets, or laundry appliances.

If you check these areas and feel confident that none of them is the culprit, you can deduce that you’re likely dealing with a roof leak. If this is the case, continue on with the rest of the steps to locate the roof leak. If you do notice something fishy with one of your interior appliances, call a professional plumber to help.

Step 3: Perform an Attic Inspection

man showing how to find a roof leak in an attic

Your best bet for tracking down interior signs of a roof leak is inside your attic. Grab a bright flashlight and head on up to your attic. While you’re there, take a closer look for the presence of a leak, such as:

  • Water stains
  • Mold
  • Musty smells

Unfortunately, roof leaks are sneaky. So seeing a water stain on your attic’s ceiling doesn’t necessarily mean the source of the leak is located directly above that area. Leaks can spread out and travel throughout your home’s interior, so where they decide to settle can’t always accurately point you to the source.

Even still, discovering more tell-tale signs in your attic inspection will help you feel confident that you’re dealing with a roof leak, which is helpful when it comes time to call a contractor.

Step 4: Examine Your Roof Directly

  • Disclaimer: These next couple of steps get more intense. They are only meant to be completed by homeowners who are willing, able, and comfortable to do so. You can skip forward to calling a roofing contractor if you’re not comfortable getting up on your roof.

If you feel up for it and you have a friend or family member to help, you can set up a ladder and climb onto your roof. While you’re on your roof, you should check for any visible signs of damage, such as:

  • Loose or damaged shingles
  • Missing shingles
  • Missing nails
  • Collected debris
  • Damaged or loose vents, skylights, or flashing

Be sure to follow standard roofing safety tips while you examine your roof. Always have a friend or family member with you, wear sturdy shoes, use a safety harness, and never work on a wet roof.

Step 5: Use a Garden Hose to Simulate Rain

man spraying water on his roof with a hose showing how to find a roof leak

No one wants to deal with a rainstorm when they have an actively leaking roof, but on the other hand, a lack of rain can make it difficult to find where a leak is coming from! If you’re trying to track down a roof leak while you have dry weather, you can always make your own rain with a garden hose.

This experiment requires at least two people, so don’t attempt it if you don’t have a buddy available to help you out. One person climbs on the roof with a garden hose in hand, and the other stays in the attic with a flashlight and waits for the water to begin leaking.

The person using the hose on the roof should work slowly, going section by section, and remaining in one section for a few minutes. It can take a little while for the water to make its way through a leak, so if you quickly spray water over your entire roof, it will be difficult to determine the source.

Step 6: Pinpoint the Source of the Leak

As you spray water in different sections, have your buddy inside the attic shout out if water starts to drip. You’ll then be able to focus your attention on one specific area. It can be helpful to use chalk to indicate the area in question.

You can either look further for evidence of damage in this section of your roof, or you can pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you’ve done and let the professionals handle the rest.

Step 7: Call Your Preferred Roofing Contractor

professional roofer wearing safety harness on roof while showing how to find a roof leak

Ultimately, you want any leak repairs handled by a roofing professional. DIY roof repairs can result in voided warranties and even more expensive damage down the line, so it’s always best to leave roofing projects to the experts.

Many roofers will offer free inspections. You can call a local company to come and take a look at your roof. The roofing contractor will appreciate the effort you put into locating the source of the leak!

Contact Ohio’s #1 Roofing Contractor

Roof leaks are frustrating, whether they were caused by storm damage or regular wear and tear over time. When you’re dealing with a leak in Ohio, you can trust the experienced roofing team at Gouge Quality Roofing.

We’ll confirm the exact source of your roof leak and perform repairs that make your roof as good as new. Contact us today to schedule your free inspection!