9 Ways To Recognize Roof Leaks (DIY Effective Visual Inspection)

Even for professionals, detecting a roof leak can be a difficult task, in most cases, roof leaks do not come from the exact location where the leak falls inside the house.

Leaks can be caused by two main reasons, rainfall, which is a universal common element, and sometimes by broken pipes.

Water droplets act on the principles of capillarity, i.e. water droplets move by surface tension and adhesion forces from one point to another.

That is why it is so difficult to find roof leaks because they have an entry point (on the roof) and an exit point (on the inside).

But precisely in order to recognize roof leaks, the entry and exit points of the leak must be recognized independently, and it is even possible to determine a possible path of the leak, only on steeply pitched roofs.

The exit point of a leak is the easiest to recognize because it is the exact point at the end of the water droplets’ path through the roof.

The entry point of the drops on the roof is a little difficult to determine, but water, as a physical element that interacts with other materials, always leaves a trace or evidence where there is periodic accumulation.

In this topic let’s analyze, 9 different ways to detect leaks in the roof yourself.

1-Analyze the appropriate roof slope

In the case of a new roof, the first element to check is the compatibility between the type of tiles installed on the roof and the minimum slope. In fact, the company supplying the roof may forget to check this detail:

Tile manufacturers impose very precise laying conditions for each type of tile, including the minimum slope to be respected so that rainwater drains well.

Below this slope, the water does not “run-off” quickly enough on the tile and will tend to stagnate. However, stagnant water does not always mean infiltration, but it certainly increases the likelihood of leaks.

To calculate the slope of your roof, know that it corresponds to the elevation per horizontal meter. In other words, if the roof rises 30 cm in the space of one meter, the slope is 30%.

2-Analyzes roofs with windows, skylights, or joints

This is something super basic and that you should do immediately in case you have a roof with windows or joints, the joints of the roof windows must be perfect. Roofs with a window or skylight are among the most prone to leakage problems.

Do a visual check of the perimeter of the window. The slightest trace of moisture will mean there is a leak.

You must be very cautious, these leaks must be fixed quickly. In fact, roof windows are often coated with plaster, which has the particularity of not getting along with water at all.

3-Check for cracked tiles

This might sound very obvious because you can see from the top to see if the shingles have cracks, but sometimes cracks in shingles are more noticeable from the bottom than the top.

If you have a roof without a vapor barrier, you will be able to see the crack more easily,
just look at the underside of the shingles from the attic.

This investigation should be carried out as a priority in rainy weather. In this way, you will be able to accurately identify the affected shingles.

If you have a vapor barrier, the situation is much more delicate, you have to go up on the roof in dry weather and visually check the external appearance of the shingles, and thus detect which one or ones are affected.

Keep in mind, if you find broken ceiling tiles, it is not enough to just put them back in place, any tile with a crack over 3 inches must be replaced.

4-Check for displaced tiles

This is without doubt the simplest problem to solve. A strong wind can be enough to cause some tiles to move, which could be the origin of the dampness.

A close visual inspection of the roof will reveal the displaced tiles immediately, which simply need to be put back in their original place.

Keep in mind that in the case of displaced tiles, you should carefully check the protective layer on the ceiling, if the tile was displaced for a long time, it is possible that some of the tiles may be very deteriorated by the incidence of water and sun.

In this case, you should make sure to change the part of the protective layer that is badly affected before putting the tile back in place.

5-Check the gutter

Another element that may be involved in the leakage is the gutter. Check its condition, it must be completely empty, free of leaves, foreign bodies, etc.

A clogged gutter can cause accumulations of water during very rainy days which can cause roof leaks.

6-Look for spots with discoloration and damp spots 

Discolorations on the tiles or ceiling are evidence of an obvious water leak, as opposed to mold and mildew stains that could be caused inside by condensation.

When the rain stops, the exterior wall is slightly dry, pay attention to carefully check the exterior wall and roof, where there are traces of dampness in the leakage part, you can take pictures; master the time, observe frequently, and be After sun-dried or blown dry, no traces can be found

7-Check all connections between elements in the roof

On slab roofs and any other type of roof, all element connections should be checked, if the connection between the roof slab and the parapet is not properly waterproofed, and it is easy for water seepage to occur.

Also if the connection between the roof slab and the drainage is not waterproofed, this can also lead to water seepage.

8-Roof leaks are almost always from the roof valley

This is very evident, the valley of the roof is where the greatest vulnerability of the roofs is found because it is where two slopes meet, the accumulation and constant circulation of water is frequent on rainy days.

So, the first element you should check carefully is the roof valley, especially following the path that makes sense from the roof valley to where you are having the leaking problem inside.

9-Check the sealing of all pipes in the roof

A defective seal in the pipes that go directly up to the roof is another of the most common causes of water leaks.

Sometimes the sealing is poorly applied, sometimes the sealing material has simply broken down due to poor quality, improper sealing, or environmental incidents.

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