Small leaks can cause big damage without timely repairs. From rot to mold, a small spring of water can destroy your ceilings, walls and insulation. Unfortunately, the origin of a leak can be elusive and will take some sleuthing to discover. This is because water can stream down rafters, travelling far from where it came.
When confronted with water damage, the first step is to rule out internal leaking. This means checking the integrity of the plumbing, HVAC and more. Even if you do find a small leak within the home, it’s worth inspecting the roof to ensure there are not multiple sources of water.
Start your examination with any fixtures or roof penetrations. Examples include pipes, air vents, chimneys, dormers, flashing and gutters. You should also look for errant nails and foreign objects (i.e. branch).
If you have access to your attic, it’s worth a trip up during the daylight. If there are tiny holes, the sun will shine through. With a flashlight, you can also spot discoloration near the origin. Should the attic be actively leaking, the streams will gleam in the light. Thus, the flashlight trick works well in rainstorms too.
One DIY approach to exposing leaks is to spray the roof with a garden hose. It’s best to start at the bottom of the roof; otherwise, runoff water from the peak might make detecting leak origins harder. Likewise, isolating sides of the roof simplifies the inspection process. During this experiment, someone needs to stay inside to notify the sprayer when leaks spring.
Because leak repairs are time-sensitive, the best protocol is to hire a professional with the tools and experience to confidently locate and patch a leak. Plus, walking the roof can be dangerous.