How Do I Find a Roof Leak and Repair It?

How Do I Find a Roof Leak and Repair It

Do you have damp walls or ceiling, water stains, drips, or peeling paint? Even a minor roof leak can transform into a nightmare for homeowners.

Unaddressed leaks lead to many problems, including mold growth, ruined insulation, walls, and ceilings, and even structural damage to the home’s roof or framing. If you’re dealing with water damage and suspect a leaky roof, try the tips below to find the problem.

If it’s a simple repair, follow the directions in this article. If not, contact a trusted roofing contractor, such as our team at Sundown Exteriors if you live in Central Illinois! We specialize in roof repairs, so you can trust us to fix a roof leak no matter the size or location. Call us today at (309) 275-6801 for roofing repairs in Bloomington, Normal, Lincoln, Pontiac, and surrounding Illinois cities.

Four Tips for Finding a Roof Leak

Locating the origin of a roof leak can prove challenging. Here are five tips to help you find roof leaks in your home:

1. Look, Feel, and Smell

water damage roof leak

The first indication of a roof leak is often water damage within the home, but other indications may also exist. Don’t ignore these signs of a compromised roof:

  • Missing, shifted, or deformed roofing shingles
  • Damp ceilings or walls, especially around vents and fixtures
  • Water stains on ceilings, interior walls, or exterior walls
  • Peeling or bulging paint, ceilings, or walls
  • Musty smell in an area of the home

Water damage may point in the direction of a roof leak, but following the water to the leak’s origin is not always as straightforward as it seems.

2. Inspect the Roof

If you suspect a roof leak, inspect your roof for noticeable signs, such as holes, missing shingles, or dark spots. Pay extra attention to your roof’s high points and carefully inspect around protruding structures like chimneys, dormers, and roof vents. If you cannot get onto your roof safely, hire a roofing professional to conduct the inspection.

3. Inspect the Attic

inspect attic for roof leaks

If you cannot safely access your roof or can’t find any apparent roof damage, inspect your attic next. Head up during the day and look for small holes where the sunlight is shining through. Using a bright flashlight, search for other signs that indicate roof leaks, including water stains, dark spots, damp insulation, mold, and black marks.

During a roof installation, nails sometimes miss the frame, so they jut down into the attic. If it’s cold outside, look around for any nails sticking out that are frosted white. We’ll explain more about these frosted nails in a bit.

4. Grab the Garden Hose

If you have someone to help you, try detecting a roof leak with your garden hose. With one person on the roof with the hose and the other inside the home where you suspect the leak, soak a small section of the roof for a few minutes, then watch for water intrusion inside. Soak each side of protruding structures one at a time to zero in on the leak’s origin.

If you find the right section but can’t locate the exact spot of the leak, remove the roofing shingles around that area. Look for wet underlayment and wet or rotten wood to pinpoint the leak. Once you find it, mark the location, then measure the damaged area.

Three Tips for Repairing a Roof Leak

Once you’ve located the roof leak, it’s time for repairs. See below for tips on conducting simple roof repairs or keeping your home protected until a professional can take a look.

1. Clip Shiners

Remember those frosty nails protruding down into the attic from your roof? We call these “shiners,” and they cause minor leaks as the collected frost melts and drips in warmer temperatures. You can quickly resolve these types of leaks by clipping off the protruding nail.

2. Tarp the Roof

blue roof tarp bloomington il

If you need to cover a damaged roof temporarily, follow these steps to tarp your roof (call Sundown Exteriors if you’re not comfortable being on a roof):

  • Obtain a tarp large enough to cover the damaged section with at least three extra feet on all sides and enough two-by-fours to line the tarp.
  • Clear off any tree limbs and other debris from the compromised section.
  • If the hole is large, screw plywood over it to prevent pooling.
  • Lay the tarp over the damaged area with at least four feet of tarp on the other side of the peak.
  • Attach two-by-fours to each bottom side of the tarp.
  • Wrap each side around the wood several times, and then attach the two-by-fours to the roof.
  • Use the remaining two-by-fours to seal the sides.
  • Screw one more two-by-four on top of each of the ones on the bottom sides to reinforce the tarp.

To stay safe, complete this temporary fix with a helper. For your safety, avoid going onto your roof in wet or windy weather.

3. Hire a Professional Roofing Contractor

Roof leaks often require professional repairs to avoid future damage. If you need help with a roof leak in Bloomington, Normal, Lincoln, Pontiac, or a surrounding city in Central Illinois, call our roofing professionals at Sundown Exteriors for help.

At Sundown Exteriors, our experienced roofing contractors specialize in roof repairs. Contact us online or call us at (309) 275-6801 in Normal, IL, to schedule your free estimate.