In Search Of The Elusive Roof Leak Source

Unless there is a gaping hole in your roof through which water is pouring, it is often difficult to pinpoint the exact spot where the leak originates. Because water can travel along joists or other pathways, you may experience a roof leak far away from its point of origin.

There are several areas that you should inspect for possible sources of leaks. These include:

The surface of the roof

When checking the roof's surface area, you should look for:

  • Missing or broken roof tiles
  • Protruding or missing roofing nails
  • Cracks in asphalt
  • Signs of wear, including discolored or faded tiles and accumulation of asphalt granules in the rain gutters at the roof's edge

Missing or broken tiles should be replaced as soon as possible. Remove pieces of the broken tiles and clean the area before installing the replacement tiles.

Roofing nails may pop up from the roof because of temperature changes. Hammer in all protruding nails and replace all missing nails, and cover with roofing cement, which has the consistency of putty. It can be applied from a can with a  small trowel, or squeezed from a tube with a caulking gun.

Cracks in the asphalt should also be filled with roofing cement. However, larger cracks (over one quarter inch wide) should be filled with roofing cement, then covered with a piece of fiberglass mesh, which is sold in roofing supply sections. An additional thin layer of roofing cement is then applied to the mesh.


Flashing, which is thin sheets of aluminum, is used on the edges of a roof and protrusions such as chimneys. Heavy rains and strong winds can cause flashing to come loose, allowing water to seep under the metal to travel a sometimes circuitous path to an area of your ceiling far from the chimney or roof's edge.

Loose flashing should be nailed in securely and silicone sealant applied around its edges. This sealant can be applied with a small caulking gun and smoothed for a continuous seal with a duct seal brush, which resembles a small round-handled paintbrush.


If rain gutters are filled with dirt, leaves, or pieces of roof asphalt, rain cannot travel to the downspout, and the gutters will fill with water. This additional weight will cause a gutter to pull away from the wall, allowing overflowing water to access the space between the wall and the gutter.

Over a period of time, exposure to water will cause the wooden fascia board to which the gutter is attached to rot, allowing water to enter the home.

Gutters and downspouts must be cleaned of all dirt and debris. If the fascia board is still in good shape, not soft or splintering, then a thin layer of roofing cement can be applied to the affected area before the cleaned gutter is nailed securely into place.

Extensive roof repairs should be handled by a professional roofer. Water can damage not only the roof, but also can pose a danger to the structure and foundation of your home. 

To learn more, contact a company like Lakeside Roofing