Roof leaks are a common annoyance for homeowners. As soon as you see the signs of one (like discolored or damp walls and ceilings), the first step to take is to try to find the source of the leak. If it turns out to be something easy to fix, you can sometimes tackle the repair yourself.
Around the chimney. The flashing around the chimney is a prime source of leaks. Flashing covers up a fairly large gap between the chimney and the roof, and it tends to pull away from the brick over time or rust. This is generally pretty easy to spot, so you’ll be able to tell quickly if that’s where your leak originates.
Problem shingles. The shingles on your roof can get damaged when they’re very old or when there’s been a big storm. When water gets past the shingles, it can seep into the underlayment and sheathing, which can then cause leaks inside the home. Look for signs like loose granules, curling or buckling shingles, or obvious missing spots.
Gutters. Has it been a while since you’ve cleaned out the gutters? When they’re clogged or damaged, standing water can back up and cause leaks. The water can also freeze in the gutter and cause a multitude of other problems, so it’s very important to clean out your gutters regularly even if you don’t suspect leaks.
Valleys. When two planes of your roof intersect, the line where they meet is called a valley. Depending on where you live, this could be covered with flashing, rolled roofing, or something else. Water collects in these low spots, so any problem with the covering will often allow water into the house.
Around ice dams. Even if your roof is in great shape, ice dams can cause leaking. These ridges of ice that form at the edge of roofs catch melted snow and doesn’t allow it to run off like it should. This backed-up water can cause major leaks.
Vents, pipes, and other roof penetrations. Anywhere there’s an object that protrudes above your roof, there’s a potential for leaks. Check the flashing around these objects for rust or loose spots.
If you go through the most common spots for roof leaks and can’t find anything, but you’re sure you have a leak, then it’s time to call in a professional. Don’t wait—even a small delay can make a leak worse and a fix much more complicated.