How To Spot a Roof Leak

Contractor doing repairs on exterior of home rotted wood letting water get into house
** Note: Slight blurriness, best at smaller sizes

Even expertly installed, well-maintained roofs can spring a leak. Here is what to look out for to spot leaks before they cause too much interior damage.

Musty Odors

If any of your rooms smell musty, especially after a rainstorm check for leaks. The smell indicates mold growth meaning water is flowing where it shouldn’t. Since people rarely put sinks in their closets it’s safe to say someone’s wardrobe shouldn’t have running water. A roof leak is a likely culprit for this issue. When water gets in it is absorbed into the wood and that moisture causes mold and mildew to grow. The water flow from rain only amps up the growth that is already occurring. Causing the smell to be stronger after a rainfall.

Water Stains on The Ceiling

If you see water stains on your ceiling odds are you have a leak. As unsightly and damaging as they may be, the bright side is, the leak is almost always directly above the stain. This makes finding the leak to repair it significantly easier. But ignoring these stains can create serious long-term issues. Even if you don’t mind the sight of them they indicate standing water in your home. This can lead to mildew and mold which are dangerous to the health of anyone living in the home. Not to mention they lead to the aforementioned musty smell. Worst case scenario if left unchecked long enough this standing water can cause your ceiling to bulge, bow, sag, and even cause a cave in. These spots may be small but they can spell out serious long-term issues.

Water Stains on Interior Wall

Contrary to water stains on the ceiling, water stains on interior walls can be trickier to track a leak on. The good news is if you catch it early enough the repair is often simple. The issues and possible risks are about the same though. The sheetrock and wood taking on the water can lead to mold growth. If left unchecked long enough this can lead to bowing and bulging of walls, which we will discuss later on.

Got a Roof Leak? Let us check it out for you!

Peeling Paint or Wallpaper

Moisture building up behind walls will eventually cause wallpaper and paint to pull away from the surface itself. This is due to the sheetrock absorbing too much water. If you follow where the separation is occurring it should help determine where the water damage occurred. Hopefully leading you to where the leak is.

Visible Mold Growth

Mold doesn’t always stay behind walls. If you have visible hold growth on your walls or baseboards there is a good chance you have some kind of leak allowing for standing water. If the growth occurs in an area like a bathroom or a wall with some kind of water pipe behind it odds are it is a pipe leak. But if it is an area devoid of water pipes there is a good chance it’s a roof leak. 

Spots on Exterior Walls

Water spots on exterior walls are a fairly common issue. Sometimes they mean poor ventilation or there aren’t vents in mortar joints. Both of these issues will cause condensation which leads to exterior staining. If both of these causes have been ruled out a roof leak is likely the culprit. This is often a sign of an issue with the flashing allowing water to leak in around seams. 

Mold on Exterior Walls

Much like discolored spots, mold growth can be a sign of poor ventilation or a lack of vents in mortar joints. If those have been ruled out it could be an issue with the flashing where the roof edge meets the sidewall. This is exacerbated in doors or windows where water can seep behind the trim. Since these areas aren’t highly visible this can lead water to collect there for years. Leading to rotting and eventually destroying sheathing and framing. At its worst, this can mean the stucco is the only thing holding up your wall.

Missing Gutter Apron

Gutter aprons are installed on the roof edge and hang into the gutters. This is used to direct water into the gutter system itself. When a gutter apron is missing it can cause water to seep into the roof edge causing rot and decay.  

Got a Roof Leak? Let us check it out for you!

Check Your Attic Shiners

Shiners are nails that missed the framing member. The issue with this is any moisture from cold air will condensate on these nails. When these nails warm up during the day that condensation melts and drips into the attic. While this may not seem like much over time this dripping can add up. The good news is that they are fairly easy to spot. If you go into your attic on a cold night these nails often appear white due to the condensation freezing. The quicker you spot the cause the faster you can repair it. In this case by simply cutting the nail with pliers. 

Missing Shingles

If you see a bunch of shingles on the ground after a storm or just in general you want to repair them as soon as possible. Missing shingles weaken your roof and make it more prone to leaks. 

Bulging Patches on Your Walls

For many, this will be a worst-case scenario if all other signs go untreated. Your walls have sheetrock behind them. When that sheetrock absorbs too much moisture it will start to bend and curve causing warping and bulges. Too much warping can lead to structural damage which is very expensive to repair. Not to mention making the building unsafe for anyone who inhabits it.

Actual Holes

Now, this may sound incredibly obvious but how often are you on your roof? If you find yourself up there for standard maintenance do a check for things like missing shingles, but then look at vents, chimneys, and skylights. Make sure all the flashing around them hasn’t loosened over time since seams are vulnerable to leaks. Also, look around for holes from things like installing satellite dishes or antenna mounting brackets. Even the small holes from nails can let water seep in eventually causing rotting and leaks. 

Give us a call today at (636) 699-0449 or request your free inspection today. If you’re in the St. Charles County area and looking for an experienced roofing and siding contractor, we are bringing forth over 20 years of experience in the roofing industry. That’s something you can trust and especially if we’re in your neck of the woods.