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3 Tips For Locating A Roof Leak

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Nothing could inspire quite so much panic in a homeowner as a leaky roof. That's because, left untreated, a leak can cause extensive--and costly--amounts of damage. By far the hardest part of fixing a leak is locating it. If your roof has recently sprung a leak, read on. This article will present three tips for figuring out just where it is.

1. The apparent leak location is not necessarily the actual leak location.

When confronted with a dripping ceiling, many people make the mistake of assuming that the leak must be located directly above the drip. Yet in reality, the leak itself is often in a different location--usually higher up the roof. You see, once the leak has allowed water to penetrate the protective layer formed by your shingles, water will flow down some distance along the roof rafters or sheathing before finally beginning to drip.

2. You don't have to wait for another rainstorm to find the leak.

It is perfectly possible to locate a roof leak even when the weather is bone dry. All you'll need to do is arm yourself with a powerful flashlight and head up to the attic. Concentrate your sleuthing efforts to the roof rafters while looking for any of the following signs:

  • water marks
  • discolorations or stains on the beams
  • mildewing or rotted wood

The flashlight will come in handy for illuminating dark shadowy recesses. Not only that, even if it has not rained for several days, the beam from your flashlight will also make it easier to spot any places where the wood is still moist. Once you think you've found the source, turn off the lights and inspect the ceiling for any holes allowing the daylight through.    

3. If all else fails, use a garden hose.

This tip is best performed with a helper. That way, one person can remain inside of the attic, while the other heads to the roof with garden hose in hand. The idea is fairly simple: one person wets the roof in sections, and the other watches closely for the leak to become active.

That said, there are a few important things to keep in mind before you get underway. First, remember to start at the bottom edge of the roof and work your way upward; if you start at the top, it will make it more difficult to pinpoint the exact height of the leak, since water will be flowing down along the entire roof.

Second, be aware that the leak may not begin dripping for several minutes. Be patient, and allow the stream of water to remain in each section for long enough to be sure. Finally, never point the hose upward along the roof. This will cause water to penetrate the shingles in many places--not only obscuring the actual leak location, but also potentially causing further water damage to occur.

If you need assistance with finding or repairing a leak, contact a local roofing company


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