Roof Leak Detection: How to Find a Roof Leak (even with no attic!)

Roof Leak Detection

Finding A Roof Leak

Water is one of the most essential basic needs in our lives… but the same doesn’t apply to our homes. In fact, we’d typically like to keep water out of our homes as much as possible. This is one of the most important functions of the roof over your head. So, after spending thousands and thousands of dollars for a shiny new roof, the last thing you want is to find out that there’s a leak in your home. Roof leak detection is an important skill for every homeowner.

Leaks can spring up for any number of reasons: damage from hail or flying debris in storms, mold and rot, pests nesting on the roof, bugs and mites, or even vandalism. Once water starts trickling into your home below, the damages (and the costs associated with them) can be astronomical. Before you call an Allison Park roofing contractor, there are some roof leak detection methods you can use to see if you have any problems.

Leak Detection: What to Look For

Leaky Shingles

Obviously, a leaky ceiling is one of the clearest signs that your roof is leaking water into the house. But before you actually see and hear the drip of a leaky ceiling, you might notice some other clues that you’ve got a roof leak.

Water damage is associated with mold and mildew; if you notice a fetid stench in some part of your house, something’s wet somewhere. Follow the smell and see if you can get to the source.

Before water starts to actually drip, you might notice off-colored stains on the ceiling or at the top of the walls. Unless you’ve recently left the lid off of your blender, the only thing that’s going to cause this kind of splotchy discoloration is a leaky ceiling.

If you notice that some part of your interior walls are bloated, or even bulging out in places, they could be getting waterlogged and quickly losing their structural integrity. This is a serious sign that something’s wrong, and you should check your roof and you should do some thorough roof leak detection right away.

You might not even notice any of these inside the home. But, if you notice that you have any damaged shingles (or missing shingles!) then there’s a decent chance the roof is leaking where you see the problem.

The trouble is, most of these signs of roof leaks don’t make it very easy to find the source of the leak (except the missing shingles). So, now that we’ve identified a potential leak, we need to look deeper.

Checking the Attic

Pittsburgh Leak Detection Attic

Where better to get a good look at the underside of your roof than the attic? Grab a light, and take care not to step anywhere that isn’t made for stepping. Inspect the roofing and the rafters for any mold or mildew; look for black stains and specks, discolored splotches, and wood that looks warped or rotted out.

…but what if you don’t have access to the attic, or don’t have one at all?

Well, first and foremost, if you don’t have attic access because you’re renting, then your landlord should be taking care of all of this for you! As a renter, it’s not your responsibility to make sure that the roof over your head is safe and secure. That’s up to the property owner. If you’re reading this because you have a roof leak in your rental, then call your landlord to schedule someone to come out and check out their property. You shouldn’t get any pushback on this; landlords will want to protect their expensive assets from costly problems like water damage.

But if it’s on you to handle the roof repairs, and you don’t have an attic, then you’ll need to check the exterior of the house itself. This will mean getting up on a ladder and getting onto the roof.

Checking the Roof Itself

Roof Leak Repair

Be careful; here at Gotcha Covered Contracting, we traipse around on roofs across Dallas-Fort Worth every day. But you probably haven’t been up on your roof more than a handful of times. Roof leak detection will make it necessary to do so, but you must exercise great caution and take care to avoid a fall. And, always use the buddy system; don’t ever get up onto the roof when you’re by yourself and nobody knows you’re up there.


If there’s any kind of rusting or loose flashing materials, then you’re probably getting a roof leak. Check where the roof meets the tops of the exterior walls, and look around any windows set near the roof or in dormers. If you see any open gaps, water is probably getting into here.

Roof Vents

Look around your roof vents first; this is one of the most common places that your roof can spring a leak. The seals around roof vents can often become loose over time, and eventually, create a leaky roof.

Mold, Mildew, Moss

You’ll also want to look out for any mold, mildew, or moss; just like in the attic, look for black stains or specks, and any off-colored spots. Moss, in particular, can be very damaging to a roof, and can warrant a roof repair or replacement. If you spot moss eating away at your home’s roof, get in touch with a roofing contractor right away.

Roofing Moss Removal Leaky Ceiling

Missing Shingles

As before, check for missing shingles you couldn’t see from the ground. Or, if any shingles are starting to peel away from the roof, then they’re probably still letting water leak in even if they’re still attached. Additionally, cracked shingles or shingles that are outright split apart will be letting water seep in, as well.

Submitting An Insurance Claim

If you’re planning on submitting an insurance claim, it can be helpful for the insurance company if you take photos. Be sure to show them any and all damage you find, and you can even mark up the roof with chalk to make damage easier to see.

If you’re struggling to find the source of a leak, but you know you’ve got a problem, you can count on your friendly neighborhood roofers at Gotcha Covered Contracting to accurately inspect your roof and give you a fair estimate for your repairs. We’re happy to help you work with your insurance company to make the experience as smooth and easy for you as we can. Call us today for help with your roof leak detection before your home is plagued by any nasty water damage.