Searching for a leaky roof can be a daunting task; it could take an entire day to find the origin of water penetration. If small leaks are not fixed immediately, greater water leakage could cause tremendous future problems. That is why any sign of water penetration must be addressed as soon as possible to minimize damage and consequential repairs. Looking for the actual point of entry is difficult since water can penetrate an underlying structure in one area and flow down to another by virtue of gravity prior to showing any evidence of the leak itself.
Following is some information regarding the probable sources of leaks and how to track the path back to the source.
Basic Leak Area
Before looking for a primary point of origin, it is vital to have at least some idea of a leak’s beginning area. One of the more common entry points is the flashing, which accounts for almost ninety percent of such occurrences. Flashing is located around the valleys, skylights, chimneys, and plumbing fixtures on a roof; the main reason why this is a primary source of leaks is because of faulty installation. So when looking for the origin of a leak, it is best to start the search with the flashing.
In order to successfully repair the problem, professionals usually trace the origin of dripping water from the visible signs back to the point of entry. Spots on the floor as well as coffee-like stains and cracks on the ceiling can provide essential clues about the source. With this information, contractors can formulate an idea of the size of the leak and how long it has been occurring. Ceiling stains are the most visible clues of water entry and range from yellow to light brown with defining characteristics of darker edge lines. A cool, damp and non-brittle ceiling is indication of a leak having occurred within twenty-four to forty-eight hours, while a darker ceiling stain indicates prolonged moisture exposure.
Tracking the Source
As previously mentioned, leaks can be tracked down by starting backwards from where there are evident signs. The first thing to check are the features that protrude from the roofing structure, including plumbing, vents, chimneys, skylights, dormers, etc. Another method is to track the source through the attic by using a flashlight on a rainy day. Once the origin is located, it should be clearly indicated and marked so that it can then be repaired on a calm day when there is no rain.
Pinpointing the origin on a sunny day can be done by bringing a garden hose up on the roof and spraying water over the suspected area. Someone located in the attic should check for dripping water using a flashlight; if any water is observed, the area should be conspicuously marked. Remember, water entry can be deceiving as the actual entry point is often found well away from where the dripping is observed.
Tracing a point of water penetration takes a little investigative work. On a steep roof, water can enter on one side and travel down to the other side. It is easier to detect the path of the dripping water by thinking about the force of gravity and trace backwards from the most apparent clue – frequently the coffee-like ceiling stains – until the source is located. Close attention should be paid to flashing and other protruding roofing features since that is often the main source of penetration.
Once the source has been detected, a professional should be contacted so it can be fixed immediately to prevent further damage. So don’t feel helpless when a leak happens as it is actually fairly easy to find a leak – just follow the apparent clues!
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