It’s every homeowner’s nightmare: trying to relax but hearing a mysterious dripping somewhere in the house. Or, smelling something musty and not being able to get rid of it. When these scenarios happen, you could be dealing with a roof leak.

By the time you notice a roof leak inside your house, it’s vital to act fast to avoid as much additional water damage as possible. Use this helpful guide to learn how to find a roof leak so a professional roofer can fix it for good.

How to Find a Roof Leak

Roof leaks are frustrating because the damaged part of the roof often doesn’t line up with what you see inside your home. Leaks can spread across your ceiling and walls, making it difficult to pinpoint where they started. However, there are a few things you can try to find a roof leak by yourself. Before you get started you’ll need:

  • A bucket
  • Flashlight
  • Ladder
  • Garden hose
  • Sturdy shoes
using a bucket to find roof leak

Look for Internal Signs of Leaks

The first thing to do when trying to find a roof leak is to look for signs of a leak inside your home. The most obvious sign is seeking water drip out of the ceiling. If you can clearly see dripping water, place a bucket underneath the leak to avoid water damage to your floors.

Sometimes, there are signs of a roof leak even without dripping water. These can include:

  • Bulging patches on interior walls
  • Stains on your ceiling
  • Musty smells
  • Mold/black streaks on the ceiling or walls
  • Wet roof deck in the attic
  • Exposed nails in the attic

If you have an attic, that’s typically where you’ll find the most evidence of a roof leak. Grab your flashlight and carefully inspect your attic, keeping an eye out for the above signs.

water damaged paint on ceiling from roof leak

Inspect Your Roof for Damage or Leaks

Once you’ve narrowed down the interior signs of a roof leak in your home, it’s time to try and find the culprit on your roof. If you feel comfortable, grab a buddy, a ladder, and a sturdy pair of shoes, and take a peek at your roof.

Safety always comes first, so don’t get up onto your roof without the proper safety equipment. You can always do a rough scan of your roof from the safety of your ladder, while a friend holds it for stability.

Ideally, you’ll be able to clearly see the roof damage that’s causing your leak. Some common indicators of a leak on your roof include:

  • Missing shingles
  • Cracked or damaged shingles
  • Peeling/warped shingles
  • Damaged or missing flashing
  • Pooling water
  • Damaged plumbing vent boots
  • Rusted or clogged gutters

If there isn’t any obvious roof damage, and you’re still determined to find the cause of the leak yourself, it’s time to get creative, and…

asphalt shingles missing granules causing roof leak

Simulate Rain From the Garden Hose

No one wants to deal with a leak when it’s raining, but without rain, it’s pretty hard to tell exactly where the leak is coming from! A fantastic solution is to create rain in a controlled way so you can find the leak in a way that’s convenient for you.

When your roof is completely dry, grab your ladder, buddy, and sturdy shoes again. But this time, bring your garden hose along. Ideally, when performing a rain experience, you’ll have at least one helper outside and one inside to look for the leak.

Remember, your safety always comes first. So don’t try this experiment unless you have the proper equipment and other people to help.

When you climb up on your roof with your garden hose, spray one section of your roof at a time. Don’t move on too quickly because it can take a few minutes for water to make its way into your home.

If your helper inside doesn’t see a leak after a few minutes, move on to a new section. If your helper sees a drip, they should yell out to you so you know you’re in the right area. Now that you have a smaller area to look in, you can search for signs of damage like:

  • Cracked or missing shingles
  • Loose or missing nails
  • Cracked caulk
  • Loose or damaged flashing or vents
  • Rotting wood

If you see one of these things in the area you narrowed down, you can feel pretty confident that you’ve found the source of your leak.

mold and water damage from roof leak

What to Do After Finding a Roof Leak

Knowing where the leak is coming from is super helpful, whether you choose to try repairs or not. It’s helpful to mark the area with chalk, or even just place an object next to the source. Then, take the next step to get the leak fixed.

Call a Trusted Roofing Contractor

You should always call an experienced local roofing contractor to come fix your leak. Usually, a roofing professional can come out to your home in a few short days. Some companies even offer emergency 24/7 tarping services, and they will tarp your roof the same day to tie you over until they can come back and make more extensive repairs.

You also can (and should) call a roofing contractor at the first sign of a leak if you don’t want to go through the work of trying to find it yourself. A professional roofer has the knowledge and experience to safely find the source of a leak without causing any extra damage. (But if you’ve successfully narrowed down the source of the leak, your roofer will appreciate your effort!)

roof replacement

Your Local Roofing Partner

It’s always a good idea to have a local roofing partner you trust for times like these. When you’re in need of fast, quality service to fix a roof leak, you don’t want to waste time waiting for a bunch of unreliable contractors to return your call or not show up to their scheduled service time.

If you live in the greater Indianapolis area, you can rely on The Heartland Builders for all your roofing needs. Call our helpful team whenever you have roofing issues, and we’ll have it fixed in no time!