Roof Repair Pointers: Finding and Fixing a Roof Leakage

Homeowners can stop leaks by themselves – experience is not necessary. This article will show people how to fix and check for common types of roofing leaks. Most of these problems take only a couple of minutes to repair.


If there are water stains all over your ceiling or down the walls, there is a big chance that the cause of this problem is a leaky roof. Checking the root of the problem or tracking it down is tough, even though repairing the roof leaking is usually an easy task.

We will show homeowners some tricks for repairing and finding some of the most common types of roof leaks. But if you live in the winter and only have these leaking problems on sunny or warm days, there is a big chance that your house has ice dams. We will not talk about leak repairs in this article. If your house has this kind of problem, better fix it as soon as possible, even if it does not bother you or you are getting new roofing next year.

Minor leaks can lead to more significant problems like molds, rotted sheathing and framing, insulation issues, as well as damaged ceilings. Flashing leaks that can cause expensive repair bills will be evident from ceiling stains for many years. If homeowners repair the problem immediately, the damage, as well as the subsequent repairs, will be at its minimum.

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Finding a roof leak

When tracking down leaks, start by checking at the roofing uphill from stains. First, homeowners need to look for is penetration. Things that penetrate roofing are common source of leakage. As a matter of fact, it is pretty rare for leakage to develop in the open places of uninterrupted shingles, even if the installation is old. Penetration includes dormers, roof vents, chimneys, or anything that stands out through the roof.

These things can be a few feet above the leak or both sides. If the house has attic access, the best and easiest way to find the leakage is to go up there, use a flashlight, and check for leaking evidence. There will always be water stains, mold, or black marks. But if access is not possible, or the house has vaulted ceilings, you will have to go to the roof and check the suspected cause.

The trick for finding leaks

If leaks are challenging to find, ask for someone who can help you and go to the roof using a garden hose. Homeowners need to start low and soak the area above where leaks appear. Isolate the place when running the hose. For instance, soak the side of the chimney first, and the side, going to the top of both sides.

Have the other person stay inside to wait for drips to appear. Run the hose for a couple of minutes in one spot before moving to another. Tell the helper to tell you when there is a visible drip. You will find out that there is more than one leak in your roof. The process can take at least an hour, so homeowners need to be patient and not move the water hose too soon.

If running the water through the shingles does not reveal the leak’s exact spot or location, do not be afraid. Remove the shingles in the area you are suspecting to have leaked. With shingles removed, there will be evidence of leaks, and you will be able to find the source. Homeowners will see water stains or discolored felt paper, even rotted wood below or around the leaky roofing.

Solution for small leaks

Some leaks are pretty hard to locate. Sometimes, watermarks show up at a spot that is far from the actual hole. If the ceiling has plastic vapor barriers between drywall and attic insulation, push the insulation aside and take a closer look at the flow stains on the vapor barrier.

There is a big chance that water will run to the barrier’s opening like the light fixtures or ceiling. If you cannot see flow streaks, and since stains are usually small, make sure to check the underside of the roofing for shiners. Shiners are nails that missed framing members, in this case, when carpenters nailed the sheating to the rafter.

Moisture and water that escapes the cold attic from rooms below usually condenses on wet or cold nails. Usually, people can spot the condensation if they climb into their attic on cold nights. Nails will appear white if they are frosted. When your attic heats up during the day, any frosted liquid will melt and drips; nails will frost up again during the night, and so on. The solution to this problem is to clip the nails with side-cutting pliers.

Fixing plumbing vent boots

Vent boots can be all metal, plastic with metal or all plastic. Check the plastic base for broken seams. Also, check the rubber boot that surrounds the pipes. The synthetic base or the rubber boot might be rotten or torn, allowing water to seep into the house through the tube.

With these problems, homeowners need to buy new vent boots to replace the rotten or torn ones. But if nails at the base are pulled free or missing and the boot is in perfect condition, replace them with screws that use rubber washers suited for metal room systems. Homeowners will find them at hardware stores or home centers.

If you do not have extra roof shingles, be very careful when removing them because they can be reused. Use flat bars to separate the sealant between layers. After removing the sealant, place the flat bar under the nail head to remove them from the framing. To know more about other remedies, you can check out companies like Landmark Roofing of Hickory NC, visit your nearest home renovation centers, or check forum sites about D-I-Y home repairs.

Fixing the vents

To fix vents, check first the cracked housings, if you are using plastic vents and the broken seams if you are using metal ones. There is a big chance that homeowners will be tempted to use caulk to fix it, but it will not solve the problem in the long run.

There is really no fix for this problem other than replacing the damaged vent. Also, check for missing or pulled nails on the bottom edge. Replace the nails with screws that have rubber washers. In some cases, homeowners can remove the nails on both sides of the vent to pull them free. Squeeze some caulk under the shingles on both sides to hold them down and put a water barrier. It is a lot easier compared to renailing the shingles to the housing.