Beware of a Leaky Roof!

HomeHome Improvement

  • Author C. Michael Hunter
  • Published December 9, 2011
  • Word count 644

Seeing water stains on the ceiling is unsightly and yet not just a simple aesthetic problem; they are a sign of something much worse. Even a small leak can lead to serious and costly complications in the long run. According to professionals, a leaky roof should be repaired as soon as the earliest sign that there is a problem; this must be done to minimize any further damage to the interior of a house.

Common Causes

The first step in determining the presence of a leak is to discover the cause of water entry. There are many factors that could cause water to seep through the roof and into the house. One of the most common causes is poor construction. The workmanship of the contractor is equivalent to the quality of the finish. No matter how expensive or durable the material, if poorly installed it could result in water damage during the rainy season.

Extreme weather conditions can also trigger a leak. During strong winds, weak flashings can easily rip off from the force of air. Shingles can also break during hail. During the winter, heavy layers of snow can cause run-off to dams and be absorbed through the layers of the roof. Lack of maintenance could also result in early deterioration and debris can release substances that break down and penetrate the roofing material. Moss can also create some serious damage once its roots penetrate through the shingles.


Once a small gap develops where water can pass through, it is only a matter of time before it will create damage to the support structures. Over time, water will weaken the wood structure, sometimes to a point where there is obvious sag to the ridge. The nails and bolts that secure the structure will also be more prone to severe corrosion.

Not only will rain water cause structural damage; it can also hurt the energy consumption of the home. The water leaking through the roof will soak the insulation that helps to regulate the indoor temperature. Once the insulation is soaked, it loses its insulating properties and could increase energy requirements to heat or cool the living space.

Leak Location

Preventing further damage to the roof requires finding the damaged area and patching it before extensive damage occurs. While water stained ceilings are a clear indication of a leak, there are ways to spot a leak long before there are any obvious signs. Time should be taken to conduct a thorough inspection of the roof at least annually and certainly after every major weather occurrence such as hail or strong winds.

The first place to find a leak is in the rafters. Any water seepage would leave a dark stain on the wooden structure. Insulation would also be wet due to its absorption of water. The nails around the structures would show extreme corrosion. Special attention should be given to areas such as valleys and flashings, as they are the most susceptible parts to being the leakage causation.

To find the exact spot, water through a hose can be sprayed on the external part of the housetop covering starting from the bottom and going on up. Place someone inside the attic area to observe if any water passes through from the outside to the inside. Professional roofing companies use an infrared camera to detect leaks. An image will be taken at dawn when the house is starting to cool down. The presence of moisture between the rafters registers a high thermal signature. The spot can then be marked and necessary repairs performed to the area.

A leak is a serious problem that requires immediate attention. Ignoring the problem could likely result in more severe damage, expensive repairs and high energy bills. Hopefully this article has provided useful information regarding roof leaks and how they can be detected, so beware of that leaky roof!

C. Michael Hunter is an expert in residential and commercial roofing. To find out more about Roof Companies in Houston, go to the main website at:

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