How to Find and Fix a Roof Leak

Does your roof spring a leak whenever there’s heavy rain? Or do you just want to be ahead of the game, and spot roof leaks before they happen? In this mega guide to finding and fixing roof leaks, we’ll give you all the info you need to tackle this common problem all homeowners face.

Table of Contents

The Dangers of Roof Leaks

If you’re dealing with a roof leak, it’s essential to get it sorted as soon as possible. Otherwise, that little “drip, drip, drip”, or a shadow on the ceiling could quickly become major issues. These can rapidly deteriorate and become not only difficult but expensive to repair.

If left unchecked, structural timbers, insulation, and floorboards can become damp, followed by mould growth and rotting timbers. A leaky roof can also become a fire hazard if the water gets near any sources of electricity. Not only could this cause a short-circuit and potential house-fire, but it will also drastically reduce the effectiveness of any fire-resistant insulation you have installed.

What Causes Roof Leaks?

A roof can leak for many reasons, some of which are in your control, and others that aren’t. Your roof is your home’s first line of defence against the elements, so it’s vital to understand why leaky roofs occur, and how to prevent it. Broadly, roof leaks can be caused by three things: age-related wear-and-tear, acute damage, or poor insulation.

Learn More: Discover the 19 most common causes of roof leaks.

Roof Leak Warning Signs

Signs of a Roof Leak Outside

If you’re looking for a new home, or you’re looking for warning signs on the exterior of your property, here’s what you need to look out for:

Buckling or Curling Roof Shingles

If you notice your felt roof shingles rising in the centre, or at the edges, this is a sign of damage that could lead to roof leaks. It’s normal for roof shingles to lose a few granules across their lifetime, but if a large amount of granules are missing from their surface, they may not have been installed correctly. Learn how to fit roof shingles.

Damaged Flashing

Take a close look at the lead flashing on your home. This is often found along joints in the roof, around a chimney, or around ventilation pipes. If there are any visible signs of damage, such as open seams, tears, or rust, then you may need to replace your flashing.

Missing or Broken Roof Tiles

If you spot any chipped, cracked, or missing tiles on your roof, these need to be replaced immediately. Otherwise, the next time it rains, water will penetrate your roof space, getting at your underlay and structural timbers. Learn how to replace roof tiles.

Moss Build-Up

If there’s a layer of moss growing on your roof, it should be cleaned off as soon as possible. This is because moss holds moisture, and its roots can damage your roofing material as they deepen. Moss is most common in shadier areas which receive less sunlight, so that’s where you need to watch out. Learn how to stop moss growing on your roof tiles.

Signs of a Roof Leak Inside

Often, the first time you’ll notice a roof leak is when stains or other warning signs appear inside the home. Here are some sure-fire signals that you may have a leaky roof:

Damp Timbers or Loft Insulation

As it’s directly below your roof, your loft is the first place to check for signs of a roof leak from the inside. We’d recommend giving your loft a once-over at least twice a year, even if you don’t think there’s anything wrong.

Obvious signs of water damage in your roof space include damp loft insulation, moist patches or rotting timbers, dampness, and water marks. It’s best to feel the surfaces in your loft as well as look at them, as it may not be obvious at first glance.

Musty Smell in the Loft

A “musty” smell in the air is a strong sign that your loft is damp, and therefore could contain mould. This can spread like wildfire, even from a small roof leak. If you notice a musty smell in your loft space, it’s vital to investigate further and get rid of any mould, which can lead to asthma, allergies, and other respiratory issues.

Damp Patches

One of the most common indoor signs that you’re dealing with a roof leak is damp patches on the ceiling. These might look like “shadows” at first, but can quickly lead to structural damage and sagging timbers. Damp patches can also be found on the walls, and damage plaster or cause paint and wallpaper to bubble and peel.

Dripping Water

We’ve all seen a bucket catch dripping water in our lives. Whether it was at home or at work, there can be no clearer sign that you’re dealing with a leak. Water coming from the ceiling implies that the leak you’re dealing with is severe, and that water has penetrated through many layers of building material.

How to Find a Roof Leak

If you’ve spotted one or more of the warnings signs listed above, but can’t see any obvious damage that could be the cause, try some of these simple steps to finding a roof leak:

Method One

  • If you can access your loft, go up there on a rainy day and see if you can spot the water coming in. It’s best to take a torch with you, as the light will reflect off the water and make it easier to see.
  • If you manage to find the source of your roof leak, draw a circle around it using a marker pen or a pencil. This is also useful to keep track if the leak begins to grow over time.
  • If alone, measure the distance from the edge of the loft up to the source of the leak. This way, you’ll be able to tell where on your roof is directly above the leak.
  • If you have a friend working with you, ask them to get up onto your roof. Then, tap next to the leak in the loft so they can hear it. They’ll then be able to identify where water is getting into your roof space

The method detailed above doesn’t always work, because sometimes a leak can penetrate through the roofing materials, and then seep down to another location where it begins to descend. This means that the damaged area inside your home may not be directly below the origin of your roof leak.

If you’re still struggling to find the roof leak, there are a few key places you should check. These include around the chimney stack, any gutters, near your ridge cap, and any other joints where flashing may have been used. This is as these spots are the most prone to degradation and therefore roof leaks.

Method Two

Another way to find a roof leak is to replicate rainfall using a hose pipe. Gently run the hose at a point above where you suspect the leak is coming from, ideally with a second person inside your loft ready to spot water coming through. Be sure to only use a low pressure, and just enough water to make finding the leak possible. You don’t want to cause any unnecessary damage!

If you’re uncomfortable carrying these methods out, or if you’re still stuck, it may be time to call in a professional. Learn how to find a good roofer.

How to Fix a Roof Leak

Once you’ve found the source of the roof leak, and identified what parts of your roof are damaged, you need to get it repaired ASAP. The longer a leak is left unchecked, the more time water has to do some serious damage to your property. It goes without saying that repairing a roof leak quickly will save you much more time, hassle, and money in future.

Below are some simple repairs for dealing with common issues that can cause leaks in tiled roofs. Be sure to perform these repairs on a warm, dry day, ideally 72 hours after the last rainfall. This means you’ll have much less chance of slipping, and the roofing material will be warmer and less likely to crack.

How to Repair Curled Roof Shingles

  1. Smooth out the curled edges of the shingle using a tool such as a trowel.
  2. Use a caulking gun to add a small amount of roof sealant to each corner.
  3. Press and weigh down each curled shingle for 24 hours using a heavy object.

How to Replace A Damaged or Missing Roof Tile

  1. Remove the tiles surrounding the tile or gap so that you can access it.
  2. If dealing with a damaged tile, pry it out of place, along with any fixings.
  3. Apply roofing cement to the underside of the new tile and slide it into place.
  4. Replace any tiles you removed earlier, ensuring they’re firmly secured.

How to Fix a Cracked Roof Tile

  1. Carefully pry up the tiles around the cracked one for easier access.
  2. Slide out the cracked portion of the tile.
  3. Apply roof sealant along the crack, covering the whole damaged area.
  4. Slot this section back into place firmly.
  5. Replace surrounding tiles as they were, ensuring to fix them correctly.

If the above solutions do not apply to your situation, or the damage is extensive, we’d recommend hiring a qualified tradesperson to assess the situation. Whilst tackling the issue yourself is cost-effective, and manageable for minor issues, it’s best to enlist expert help for anything more complex.

How to Fix a Roof Leak From the Inside

If you’re asking yourself how to repair a roof leak from inside your home, it’s probably raining heavily, and you’ve got an active drip going on right now! There’s no need to fear however, as it’s often quite simple to temporarily repair a roof leak whilst indoors, to give yourself time to carry out a more permanent repair when the weather is dry. Often, you’ll need to locate the roof leak, find a way to divert the water, and seal any gaps inside.

Learn More: How to Fix a Leaking Roof From the Inside

How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Roof Leak?

The cost of repairing your leaky roof depends entirely on what sort of roof you have, and the scale of the problem. Replacing a few broken tiles, or a short course of flashing could cost as little as £200, however leaks caused by severe damage may only be solvable by a full roof replacement, which can cost up to £6000.

How to Fix a Flat Roof Leak

Flat roofs are common right across Britain, often chosen for their low cost and minimal hassle. However, one issue that often plagues flat roofs is the dreaded roof leak. These can happen for many reasons, but they’re not always obvious. If you suspect your flat roof has sprung a leak, it’s vital to get it repaired as soon as you can. Failing to do so will only lead to further damage and costs in future.

Learn More: How to Fix a Leaking Flat Roof.

How to Fix a Leaking Conservatory Roof

A conservatory is often a fantastic addition to a home, increasing your square footage and letting in plenty of natural light. Like all structures however, conservatories can be susceptible to roof leaks. Due to the fact that conservatory roofs are constructed by joining several sections together, each of these seams presents a potential vulnerable spot for water to get in. If your conservatory is leaking, it needs to be sorted, and fast.

Learn More: How to Fix a Leaking Conservatory Roof

How to Repair a Shed Roof Leak

Shed roof felt can deteriorate across its lifetime, whether due to acute damage, or the constant battering from the elements. When left alone, this damage can soon lead to water ingress, and a leaky shed roof. Not ideal for anything valuable stored inside! Fortunately, fixing a shed roof leak is a simple process, requiring just a few tools.

Learn More: How to Repair a Shed Roof Leak

How to Repair a Leaking Porch Roof

Having a porch on your property is a great way to shield yourself from the elements as you enter or exit your home. But what can you do if you notice your porch roof is leaking? There are many reasons why your porch roof might have sprung a leak, from damaged flashing to worn roofing materials.

Learn More: How to Repair a Leaking Porch Roof

How to Repair a Roof Valley Leak

The valleys of your roof are some of the areas most prone to roof leaks. This is due to the fact that they are where two portions of your roof meet, as well as that valleys take a constant battering from rainwater and debris gathering and flowing through them before draining into your guttering system. Roof valley leaks can occur for many reasons, but it’s vital to get them fixed quickly, and thankfully this can often be done inexpensively.

Learn More: How to Repair a Roof Valley Leak

How to Fix Leaking Gutters

Your guttering system is one of the most vital components of a happy, healthy home. Leaking gutters can lead to rotting timbers, mould or mildew build-up, unsightly staining, and more. Not only are these unpleasant, but these can seriously compromise the safety and value of your property. If there’s an issue with your guttering, it’s imperative to get it fixed ASAP.

Learn More: How to Fix Leaking Gutters

Does Home Insurance Cover Roof Leaks?

Many homeowners turn to their insurance policies when their roof springs a leak, hoping to recoup some or all of the costs from the policy. But does your home insurance cover a leaking roof? If it was caused by general wear-and-tear, likely not. However, if your roof was damaged by an unforeseen event like a storm, you may be in luck.

Learn More: Does Home Insurance Cover Roof Leaks?