One sure sign of a roof leak is an ugly dark water stain on your ceiling. However, at the stage of discovering the ceiling stain you merely have the effect; now you must find the cause. Most likely it is not directly above the leak, especially on a typical sloped or even high sloped common asphalt shingled roof line in the greater Chicago Illinois or suburban area. The real problem is how do you find where that actual leak is coming from?
The first step is to go into the attic space above the stained area and try to track down the suspected area of the leak. You must trace from the stained ceiling area in the attic above to where the water actually enters your house. So first carefully measure where the stain is located in the room in relation to the outside walls.
Go up in the attic space and try to locate the attic area immediately above the area in the room with the ceiling stain using the measurements from the room below. Carefully inspect the attic area’s roof decking and rafters immediately surrounding the area of the leak damaged ceiling for stains on the wood (see photo courtesy of Home First Inspection) or a water trail which would indicate where the leak originated from. At times the source of the roof leak is hard to find since it may be located higher up on the roof tan the stain.
If nothing is found in the immediate area, take your search higher up the roof slope to find the stained wood indicators. Then examine the rafters for what we sometimes describe as ‘travelers’. That is where the water leaks in one place, then travels down a rafter until it stops and starts dripping into the insulation, attic flooring or ceiling below.
The best time to check out your home’s attic for leaks from the roof is obviously during a rain storm. If not possible find yourself a team mate and a good water hose as well as a flashlight or torch light, tape measure and note taking gear. (I also suggest you both arm yourselves with cell phones or even walkie-talkies.) Have your partner soak down the roof while you are inside with the light source watching for the source of the water leaking from the roof.
Once located, take measurements so you can go up on the roof and locate the area of the source. The next step is obvious – once you locate the source, repair the leak.
One note: Before you try to repaint the stained are, you better use a stain blocking primer or sealer or the stain will soon reappear. Use several light coats which are better than one heavy coat. You can use a brush, a roller or even buy a sealer in a spray can that sprays upward. Sometimes the primer even comes close to matching the color of the ceiling and you will not have to repaint the entire ceiling.
If you found that ceiling stain and can’t get in the attic or on top of your roof with a hose to track down the leak, or need a professional to make the necessary repairs, call ZEO Roofing at 224-400-9500 for a free home roofing inspection*.
Read more about our Emergency Roof Repair service.
* Our Free, no obligation roofing inspection is a one time per address offer.