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How To Inspect a Roof for Leaks

Your roof may be leaking and you don't know it. A small leak may be doing slow damage but hasn't gotten bad enough to give you any obvious clues, like a stain on the ceiling or worse.

Rooftops are inherently dangerous places to work. We recommend you leave roof repairs to a professional. Please read our safety information before attempting any inspection or repairs.

It is prudent to check the roof a couple times a year for signs of damage. You can stay on the ground, and we recommend you do, to do a rooftop inspection. Use a pair of binoculars to inspect the roof for missing shingles. You should also look for irregularities such as bumps, bulges, visible nails and tears.

The flashing, (metal or other material used to seal out water around things that protrude from the roof) should also be inspected. The chimney and any vents or other protrusions from the roof should have an uninterrupted protective barrier around them. Look for gaps, missing pieces or other irregularities. Flashing along roof valleys, walls, windows and other features should also be inspected.

A second way to check that roof is water tight is to go into the attic. If you have attic access you can get an up close look at the roof for signs of a leak. If you have a rain storm in progress, that is a great time to check. Take a flashlight and look and listen for signs of a leak. In the absence of a storm, you can still inspect the rafters and sheathing for streaking (either light or dark). The streaks are signs that water has run through there. Also, inspect the insulation for matting or staining, which also is a sign that water has pooled there.

If you do find missing shingles, flashing or other signs of damage, or you find signs of a leak in the attic, contact a few professionals for an estimate. You may be able to make the repair yourself, but because of the danger inherent in working on a roof, it may be wise to leave the work to a pro. If you decide to do the work yourself, the insights provided by the pro may prove invaluable.

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