How to Find and Repair a Leaking Roof

How to Guides, Tips & Ideas

A leaking roof can be a recipe for chaos and also make a house inhabitable. It becomes worse if, by any chance, there are naked electrical cables along the leaking lines as any contact with water can be disastrous. These misfortunes can, however, be avoided by learning how to fix a roof by yourself, the crucial topic that this write up seeks to cover.

A roof leak can present multiple challenges to homeowners until it is identified and rectified. The major challenge is that leaks never happen at a convenient time but rather catch you off-guard. This means that they may cause significant damage before you find and work on them.

The usual signs that can point to a possible leak are the sight and sound of water dripping. There are also several other telltale signs that you may discover along the way, whether it is raining or not. The signs include:

  • The presence of musty odors in some of your rooms.
  • The sight of spots on your home’s exterior walls.
  • Signs of water stains on the ceiling or roof.
  • Missing or warped shingles.
  • Bulging patches on your interior walls.

On This Guide:

6 Methods To Find A Roof Leak

The above signs may point to a possible leak somewhere on your roof, but they may not point to the actual leaking point. In this case, you have to conduct a thorough investigation to establish the exact place with the leaking problem. Below are additional tips to help you to find a roof leak and ensure that it does not accelerate such problems.

Check the Attic

Tools and materials required:

  • Flashlight or torch.
  • Water bucket
  • Drill and a twist bit
  • Ladder
  • Plastic sheet
  • Dust mask, gloves, and eyeglasses

Place the plastic sheet on the floor and have the bucket placed on top of it, too, to collect dripping water. If your house has an attic space, use a ladder to safely get there and check for signs of water stains, black marks, or mold. Use the flashlight if it is too dark.

Drill a hole, carefully, at the center of the damaged area to release any concentrated water. You can cover the hole momentarily until you are ready to fix the entire damage.

If your house does not have an attic, you can check the roof for any signs of leakages. Ideally, look out for damp patches, black marks, water stains, or molds. If you rent the house, engage the property managers or landlord to have the leak repaired.

man checking for leaks

Perform A Rain Dance

Tools and materials required:

  • Plastic sheet
  • Water bucket
  • Garden hose
  • Ladder
  • Roof safety harness (you can rent it for a day)

If checking the attic or roof does not help with identifying the leak, make it rain. If you have someone else at home, let them stay inside the house as you go to the roof with a garden hose and soak the roof. The person inside the house should hold or lay the plastic sheet and bucket on the floor and identify the leaking areas and shout immediately they see dripping water.

Identifying Plumbing Leaks

Tools and materials required:

  • Flashlight
  • Hole saw (to remove the ceiling surface)
  • Seal tape
  • Ladder
  • Grout and grout sealer
  • Ladder

If you are sure the roof leak is not caused by rainwater, the next step would be to locate plumbing leaks. Locate all plumbing lines on the roofing area and scale to them using the ladder. Ensure that you have your flashlight all the time if the area is dark.

Start with the plumbing lines serving the toilets and shower rooms and mark any affected areas. Use your hole saw to clear the affected area, but be sure to expand any damages to the plumbing lines. If you can take care of the leakages, you can start by sealing the pipes using the seal tape and other adhesives and then cover the area with the grout and grout sealer.

Identifying Pest Infestation-Caused Leakages

Tools and materials required:

  • Pump sprayer
  • Flashlight
  • Nose masks, eyeglasses, and gloves
  • Pest identification tools

Pests can cause roof and attic damage and open way for leaking water droplets. Where plumbing leaks are not apparent, the infestation of pests should not be ruled out. Go through the attic area with telescoping inspector meter, termite injector, or moisture meter to identify any possible damages made by pests such as rodents as well as their breeding grounds.

Tear of Shingles

If you are yet to identify the location of the roof leak, you can also tear off the shingles for a deeper assessment. You can start by stripping off the shingles around the area with signs of leakages such as molds and dampness. This step should, however, be the last option because it may result in additional repair charges.

Check Dormers

A roof leak may also be originating from your walls. While at it, you may then check any dormer walls around your house to identify any rot or cracks that may be allowing water to seep through.

13 Do-It-Yourself Roof Repairs

Sometimes, you may need to have quick fixes for a leaking roof before you can explore better and long-lasting solutions. You can, therefore, do repairs using temporary solutions such as using tarps and sealants.

If you are now tired of your roof leaking water into your houses, perhaps it is that time that you got the problems fixed. There are a number of do-it-yourself roof repairs that a pro or novice DIYer can work on and get their roofs repaired without spending too much. If you have a spirit of adventure and are a DIY enthusiast, here are some of the DIY roof repairs that you can carry out instead of calling an expert roofer.

Fixing the Attic

TIME

varies

COMPLEXITY

high

COST

$

Tools and materials required:

  • Ladder
  • Drill
  • Seal tape
  • Nail gun
  • Grout and grout sealer
  • Roofing sealant

If the attic space is the problem, it is important that you repair any open spaces that allow for water to infiltrate. If it is a wooden attic, ensure that the roof is fixed first, the open spaces and holes filled, and clogged water cleared. You may then replace any damaged wood and seal the open spaces.

For attics made of other materials, the same procedure should be followed. If it is cemented and you have the skills to repair it, you can go ahead with it, although you can enlist the help of a concrete worker if you are not well versed with it. If it is made of any other material, ensure to gather enough information and tips on how to work around it to seal any leakages properly.

Fix Plumbing Vent Boots

TIME

varies

COMPLEXITY

medium

COST

$

Tools and materials required:

  • Ladder
  • Flashlight
  • Seal tape
  • Tape measure
  • Roof safety harness (you can rent it for a day)
  • Others

If you are a motivated DIYer, you can replace any damaged vent boots. You may buy several of them, or as may be necessary from your local hardware store or buy on Amazon. If they are in good shape, the screws and rubber-washered ones may be the only one needing a chance to prevent water from seeping through the screw holes.

Fixing Plumbing Leaks

TIME

varies

COMPLEXITY

medium

COST

$

    If your ceiling is leaking where there are no plumbing fixtures above, it may be because of burst drain or water supply pipes. This is not usual, but it may also happen, especially if the pipes were laid down years ago or you had metallic pipes installed and have started corroding. If this is your case, you can open the ceiling cavity around where the signs of a leak are to assess the condition of the pipes running and tighten any loose joints.

    If there are faulty fittings or the pipes are leaking, they should be repaired or replaced with ease. A DIYer is capable of such repairs or replacement unless it requires an extensive replacement of plumbing pipes or a complete overhaul of the ceiling.