There is an art and science in knowing how to detect leaky roof problems. Roofers learn the ways through hard experience. Homeowners sometimes learn, too late, what to look for. This is a quick guide in how to detect leaky roof issues early, so your home does not suffer.
We are talking about your home’s roof, so naturally you want to climb up and have a look around, right? Wrong! Stay away from your roof, please. Leave up-close roof inspections and roofing replacements to trained roofing contractors, who are your best ally in dealing with roof leaks.
You can safely assess your roof from three key areas:
On an extension ladder to the gutters
Inside your home and attic
From each vantage point, you can learn valuable clues. These three areas are part of knowing how to detect leaky roof issues early.
From the Ground
From the ground you can safely check for four signs:
Missing or damaged shingles — From your yard you should be able to see shingles out of line, absent, or seriously damaged; these are all indicators that a roof leak has already started or will soon start
Exposed flashing or underlayment — If you can see shiny metal where you should not see it, or a black bit of felt or thin fabric peeking out from under shingles, you are seeing flashing or underlayment that indicates your roof is no longer water resistant; leaks follow
Branches or limbs on your roof — Organic litter on your roof can cause leaks by crushing the shingles or by gouging holes through shingles and underlayment; the branch’s impact can lead to roof leaks
Moss growing on your roof — Organisms like algae and moss degrade roofing materials; they consume your roof as food, which reduces its ability to shed water
A local, helpful roofer can not only perform a complete inspection of your roof, safely and using the right equipment, your roofer can also clean off your roof and make quick roof repairs to stop roof leaks fast.
From the Ladder
In learning how to detect leaky roof trouble spots, carefully climb an extension ladder to your gutters (go no further!). You can spot three other issues from the top of the ladder:
Gutters pulling away from the house — If your Akron-area home’s gutters are not firmly attached to the fascia boards, you can expect roof leaks behind the gutters; fascia boards cover the ends of rafters, so if they rot, water will run into your attic along the eaves
Boots around vent pipes not intact — The rubber (or sometimes lead) boots around sanitary stacks and vent pipes can split, crumble, and decay under years of ultraviolet light from the sun; the roof will leak immediately around the pipe once the boot fails
Granules in the gutters — If you see substantial amounts of granular material in your home’s nearly horizontal gutters, that is a sign your shingles are failing; once their water-resistant granules wash away, roof leaks are close behind
You may be fortunate enough to connect with a roofer who also handles gutter installations. That same roofer can prepare a written estimate to deal with the damage to your shingles and pipe boots. A small investment in rapid roof repair will go a long way in preventing further damage.
Start in your Cleveland-area home’s attic, before returning to your living space, for these last five steps in tracking down roof leaks:
Rafters, sheathing, and insulation — In your attic, look up and look down; look for water stains and wood rot before looking down at the insulation for dampness, pools of water, or compressed insulation
Water dripping — In the attic and inside your home, can you see actual water dripping from the ceiling or sheathing?
Odors — Musty odors you associate with mold and mildew may indicate potentially dangerous mold growing behind interior walls or overhead, on your ceilings; the smell will intensify in damp weather
Dampness — If your home feels more humid than usual, or the air feels damp, you could have hidden roof leaks, which not only destroys your home’s ceilings and walls but forces your HVAC system to work harder
Soft, dark spots — Look at your home’s walls near the ceilings, and at the ceilings themselves for signs of staining and spots from roof leaks; these spots may even be soft from water dripping behind them, weakening the drywall