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Tips for Locating a Roof Leak in Your Home

Water stain on ceiling from roof leak.

Water stain on ceiling caused by roof leak.

Roof leaks can be hard to pinpoint, since they’re often located higher up the roof than the wet spot on your ceiling. To find a roof leak:

  1. Go in the attic above the water stain on the ceiling and examine the rafters and roof decking for discolored wood or a water trail.
  2. Follow the trail up the slope of the roof to its highest point.
  3. Measure from the peak down and from the gable over.
  4. Go on the roof and transfer the measurements, taking any protruding eaves into account.
  5. Look in that area of the roof, or higher up, for the source of the leak.
  6. Repair the damaged roof to stop the leak.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Video Transcript

Danny Lipford: Barry want to know, “What’s the best way to locate a roof leak?

If you have a roof leak that’s caused a water stain on your ceiling, the best way to track it down is to get in the attic directly above the stain, knowing that most likely the leak is not directly above the stain but a little further up the slope of the roof.

So what you want to look for are any telltale signs of where that water may be tracking down. You’ll see some discolored wood or a water trail on the bottom of the decking or the rafter, then you can find out exactly where it’s entering in your attic.

And then you can take care of the repairs. But if you just simply can’t find exactly where the leak’s coming in, then use a good, strong water hose on the outside with someone inside the attic with a nice flashlight. And then you can tell as you move your water hose up the rake of the roof, you’ll see exactly where the water’s coming in.


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6 Comments on “Tips for Locating a Roof Leak in Your Home”

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  • Official Comment:


    Thomas Boni Says:
    October 30th, 2018 at 8:40 am

    Hi, Diana,
    Mold and mildew cause serious air quality and health problems, so removing them should be a top priority, and you’re correct — it’s no DIY job.
    Fortunately, numerous resources are available to do just that.

    Here’s more information from our friends at Hunker: https://www.hunker.com/13416758/grants-for-mold-remediation

    In addition to checking for grants, you might also contact your area home builders association. Many of these organizations have local community service projects in which volunteers donate their time and expertise to someone in need.
    Use this link to find the home builders association near you: http://bit.ly/2oOa9mN
    Take care!



  • Diana (for Carolyn) Says:
    October 29th, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    Cousin inherited a doublewide trailer Mobile Home which now has fallen ceiling drywall and constant leak in bathroom every heavy rainfall. Bath is adjacent to far-end of trailer bedroom. When entering the bedroom, especially after heavy rain, the bedroom smells horribly moldy and is making me ill. Plus the ceiling’s in the kitchen and living room have dark circular rings showing and all three circles nearer to the exterior vertical walls. I, Diana, say entire roof needs ‘Professional work’. Mother/cousins Aunt, Carolyn, doesn’t agree and keeps hiring so-called “I-can-fix-that-too” local citizens. So far, they’ve tried twice to fix it putting roofing cement down (but not put down correctly around exhaust pipe flange we were told) . After showing this video to Mother I told her I was right all along. Leak is higher up than flanged exhaust pipe circumference area. Yet, local Home Improvement Pro Companies here in Southwest Virginia are ‘huge Price Goucher’s’! Yet, cold air entering through bathroom ceiling where a piece of wet ceiling drywall has been covered with plastic to hold it (Frustratingly, Mother refuses to let cousin remove it since she is hypersensitive to drywall chemicals.) And bedroom mildew/mold stench reeks havoc on lungs!! And now cold air entering bedroom through its two cornered exterior walls! And bedroom gets freezing cold! Too cold! Can you offer any aide: Suggestions, Grant Information, USDA grant sources, etc. My male cousin is truly afraid of height and too ill to go up on his own roof.



  • Jane Says:
    July 24th, 2018 at 8:43 am

    Good morning, I have a manufacturer home and it has been raining here and I notice in my bathroom a water mark on the ceiling that is getting bigger. How do I find the water leek outside and fix i?
    Thank you, Jane


  • Official Comment:


    Thomas Boni Says:
    July 8th, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    Hi, Peggy,

    Danny says, “Of course, first you want to determine if it’s a roof leak. I would suggest positioning someone in the attic with a good bright light at or near the location of the leak.

    “I would then have someone go on the roof with a water hose (be careful). Methodically spray around roof vents or any suspect area around where you think the leak might be and slightly above it. It is convenient many times for the person on the roof and the person in the attic to be connected by cell phone so that as soon as they see a sign of a leak, you would be able to communicate with them to determine exactly where the leak is. Then allow it to dry and repair as needed.

    “Other than that, it’s possible that the adjacent bathroom has a leak in it. Check under the vanity to be sure it’s not leaking there. It’s possible that the bathroom has some type of leak that’s contributing to that water; just make sure you see no signs of a leak in front of the toilet, tub or vanity.

    Good luck!”



  • Peggy Says:
    May 24th, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    I have a water leak in my hallway. The ceiling is not wet but the floor and baseboard are wet from the heat and air register to the bedroom door. The house is built ona crawl space and a bathroom is located across the hallway where the floor is wet. We have gone into the attic and underneath the house and saw no sign of a leak. How do I determine where the leak originated?



  • lynn Says:
    March 2nd, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Hi , I just discovered a round wet area on our kitchen ceiling, and our bathroom is above that. I touched the area and ended up poking a hole in it. We did get a hard rainfall about 2 days ago. Should I assume it is the roof even though the roof is 2 years old ? Thank you Lynn


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Tips for Locating a Roof Leak in Your Home