A row of houses with roofs vulnerable to roof leaks.

Fixing Your Leaky Roof

Updated December 17, 2018 . AmFam Team

There are few things more annoying than a persistent roof leak. And it only gets more frustrating when you don’t know where it came from! That’s why we’ve put together a list of tips to help you spot roof leaks and get them fixed as soon as possible.

As harmless as a roof leak might seem, it’s actually a pretty big deal. Leaks can lead to weakened structures, mold and other potentially expensive problems. To help you track down and deal with these leaks, we’ve put together a list of tips that any homeowner can use.

Finding the Leak in Your Roof

Unless you’ve got your eyes on your ceilings and roof 24/7, you probably won’t notice a roof leak until a drop of water falls on your floor, the couch or the top of your head. So once you do notice water dropping into your humble abode, take this list and find that pesky leak:

Look for the obvious signs. If a strong storm rolled through recently and you’re noticing a leak, there’s a good chance the two are related. Take a look at your roof for missing or damaged shingles or any other damage to your roof. Under no circumstances should you attempt to get on your roof — call a professional roofer if you see obvious damage.

Search for any areas that might have openings. Things like roof vents, chimneys and windows can have sealed openings that wear down over time. From the ground, look and see if there are any apparent breaks in between them and your roof.

Check for water stains on your ceiling. Spotting water stains on your ceiling can help you track down where the leak is both traveling and originating. Be sure to check the corners of your rooms and your cabinets — both inside and outside. If the leak isn’t new, you might notice mold growth in any of those areas, too.

Take a look in your attic — safely. Do not get inside your attic and walk around. Walking on the boards can be very tricky, and if you misstep, you could fall through your ceiling. So for your own health’s sake (and your wallet’s), grab a flashlight and take a look at your attic from a ladder. Look for any moisture, deteriorated insulation or mold. If your attic smells particularly musty, that’s another sign you’re close to the source of the leak.

Check your gutters and downspouts. Gutters and downspouts can often be part of the problem when it comes to a leaky roof. And if they’re jammed full of leaves, sticks or other debris, they’ll have trouble doing their job, keeping water (and if it’s cold enough, forming ice dams) on your roof and potentially causing leaks.

Testing Your Roof for Leaks

Whether you think you found the source of your roof leak and are looking for confirmation, or you’re still unsure of where the water is coming from, testing your roof for leaks is the next step towards fixing your problem. Here’s how you do it:

Set up a bucket. Make sure to put something down to catch the leak(s) while you test. Have a couple extra ones handy, too, if you notice more areas where the water is seeping through.

Wait for the next rain storm. If you’re taking on this leak-finding mission solo, you can wait for the next time it rains to try and pinpoint the source of your leak. Carefully monitor your ceilings and attic for clues on where the water is finding its way in.

Get a friend or family member to help you hose down your roof. There’s no sense in waiting for the rain if you can find someone to help you find that pesky leak. Hook up a garden hose outside, then head inside to keep an eye on your ceilings and attic.

Start at the bottom of the roof. Have the other person turn on the hose and spray the closest part of your roof with water for 10 to 15 minutes. Depending on the severity of your leak, it might take even longer for the water to work its way into your home, so be patient.

Work your way up the roof. By starting at the bottom of the roof and working your way up, you’ll be able to get a good idea of which part of your roof is leaking. Don’t rush the process — being careful to take your time on each section of the roof is crucial to finding your leak.

Spray near seams and other potential openings. Be sure to take time to spray water on the sides of windows, chimneys and roof vents to see if they’re the culprit of your leak.

Do not get on your roof. No matter how determined you are to find your leak, do not get on your roof. The risks drastically outweigh the benefits — plus, if you’ve just water-tested your roof, it will be even more slippery than normal.

Fixing Your Roof Leak

If you think you’ve finally figured out the source of that annoying roof leak, get it fixed as soon as possible. It doesn’t take long for water to start attracting mold and harming the structure of your home, so use these tips to fix your problem and fast:

Call a professional roofer. Unless you’re one yourself, don’t attempt to get on your roof and patch up your leak. Get in touch with a professional and have the job done right and quickly. Plus, if there are more issues with your roof or concerns about future leaks, your roofer can spot them and help prevent them, too. Here are some tips on figuring out if, or when, you need to replace your roof.

Check your homeowners policy. Most American Family homeowners policies are equipped with replacement cost coverage for non-wind and non-hail losses. If your leak is caused by a covered loss, your insurance could cover the roof’s replacement cost after you pay your deductible.

Whether it’s helping you understand the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost value roof coverage or helping you get the peace of mind you need with your other insurance coverages, your American Family agent is dedicated to helping you protect what matters most. Get in touch with your agent (Opens in a new tab) today and make sure you’ve got the right coverage for your family.

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