Finding a Leak in Your Roof in Winter

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Roof Leaks

Image via Dion Gillard on Flickr

Finding roof leaks in the winter is an especially troubling situation. If you've found a suspicious water leak and are experiencing water damage, it's also winter – not the ideal time to get up on the roof and inspect for holes. Here are some tips to identify the source of a roof leak in the winter even if there is snow or ice buildup and solve the leak when you find it.

Look at the Roof

Stand back in your yard and look up at the roof. A pair of binoculars would be helpful to see detail. Be on the lookout for any roof penetrations that could be to blame for the leak. It's far less common for leaks to happen in undisturbed shingle areas. These penetrations, which can include anything from dormers and chimneys to plumbing and roof vents, may be positioned a few feet above your suspected leak or to either side.

Remove Shingles

Once you have pinpointed the area of concern, use a sturdy ladder with the help of a buddy to gain access to the roof. Wear hiking boots or studded boots that provide enough traction, especially if your area has already experience snow or ice. Your safest option, of course, is to hire a professional to do this, as they have the safety gear to get it done right. Upon removing the suspect shingles, you will be able to see evidence of the leak with discolored felt paper or water-stained or rotted wood underneath, according to The Family Handyman.

Head to the Attic

Now it's time to see the source of the water damage from the interior. Take a flashlight and go up into the attic. Telltale signs include mold and water stains. Look for puddles, drips and spots of daylight on the underside of the roofing. Once you've found it, you can take steps to fix it. However, holes and leaks can be indicative of a much larger problem, and for this you'll need a pro for formal diagnosis and repair options – especially if the roof is old.

Short-Term Solutions

Replace cracked housing on vents and other fixtures, replace cracked or missing shingles, install heat cable along the roof's edge to curb ice dams (a common source of leaks), or re-apply caulking around windows and between corner boards and siding as needed. However, these could only be short-term solutions, depending on the severity of the problem and whether the leaks re-occur. To be safe, you should place a call to a gutter and roofing specialist so they can take a look.

Finding roof leaks is inherently hard to the untrained professional, especially in winter. Contact our roofing experts at LeafGuard of the Midlands if you are in need of urgent roofing help.

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