How To Find A Roof Leak Without Attic Access
It is becoming more common for builders to make homes with inaccessible attics. Other homes have only vaulted or cathedral ceilings, with no attic at all. In either case, you cannot go up to the attic to investigate. Instead, you have to call a roofer to get onto the roof and conduct an investigation. While you shouldnt do this yourself, you might be curious about what your roofer is looking for and which parts of your roof might be causing the leak. If so, heres a guide to what may have caused your roof leak.
The Most Common Causes of Roof Leaks
There are many potential causes of roof leaks. Improper installation of a roof component or feature may cause a roof leak. Damage to any part of the roof may also cause a leak. Here are some common causes of roof leaks that you may want to know more about:
Pinpoint The Leaks Location
Once youve narrowed down the location of your leak, it is much easier to figure out how to find a leak in your roof with accuracy. You can do this by measuring the water damage on the interior against a fixed point, such as a chimney, window, or exterior wall, then match it up on the roof of your home.
Plumbing Vent Boots And Roof Vents
Check plumbing vent boots and roof vents if water is entering from that area to cause the leaking roof.
Look for cracks in the base of flexible rubber flashing or broken seams in metal varieties of vent pipe flashing. The rubber gasket that surrounds the vent pipe could be rotted. Either of these situations could allow water to find its way into the house.
Replace the plumbing vent boot if necessary and use washer-head roofing screws to secure the base to the roof. If the boot is in good condition but fasteners are missing, replace them with washer-head roofing screws.
Similarly, roof vents with cracked or otherwise damaged housings should be replaced to prevent water entering at the base.
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How To Find A Roof Leak
Learning how to find a roof leak is easy but accomplishing the task can be frustrating. And fixing a leaky roof can be less time-consuming than locating where the water is coming in.
Water frequently enters the house near things that go through the roof. Projections or penetrations such as vents, dormers and chimneys are frequent places for leaks. Locating the exact source can be tricky because visible signs of a leak on the inside might be several feet away from either to the left, right or below the actual source.
To find the source of a roof leak:
- Look in the attic with a flashlight for evidence like water stains, trhen trace them up the roof and rafters to the entry point.
- If the leak isnt obvious, have a helper watch in the attic while you get on the roof with a garden hose.
- Begin soaking low on the roof, just above where the leak is visible inside the house.
- Use enough water to mimic heavy rains.
- Run water over the low side of the penetration for several minutes while the helper watches for any water droplets.
- If none appear, move to the right or left side of the penetration and let the water run over the area for several minutes before moving to the other side.
- Work your way up the roof, isolating areas around each penetration until the helper yells that a drip is visible.
- That will be the vicinity of the leak.
Protect Your Mobile Home Roof
Roof leaks during winter time can eat away at the inside of your mobile home. Leaks can go undetected and by the time you notice something wrong, damage has already happened.
Wind can blow away shingles, water can freeze and expand in seams creating a path for leaks, old sealant around chimneys and vents can pull away, leaves and other debris can divert water away from drain gutters backing up water flow. These and other situations can cause undetected problems that can lead to costly repairs.
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Signs Of A Mobile Home Roof Leak
Ideally, there will be some kind of visual clue that signifies a leak is happening.
Whether you have a pitched or flat roof youll want to look for the following signs both inside and outside of your home. Here are a few things to look for when trying to locate a leak on your shingled mobile home roof:
Solutions For Peaked Roofs
Newer manufactured homes and double-wides with truss roof systems can be reroofed with some of the same materials used for flat and bowed roofs on older mobile homes. Shallow pitches can easily accommodate membrane roofing, but because pitched roofs are more visible, the preference here is often for more attractive roofing materials similar to those used for traditional homes. Thus, membrane roof-overs are relatively rare on peaked roofs, with metal and traditional shingles used much more often. Techniques for repairing and re-roofing are exactly the same as is used in traditional on-site construction.
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Signs You Have A Leak
There are several important things you can look for to determine whether or not you have a leak. Among the first are brown or other dark colored stains on the ceiling. While these stains are the most noticeable indicators, you should also be on the lookout for moisture, especially a buildup of it, in addition to dampness coming from the ceiling or along the walls.
It is important to realize that the source of a mobile home roof leak may not be located directly next to wet spots. A hole in the roof, ceiling or floor may actually allow rain or other water and debris to travel a fair distance to the final area where moisture will collect.
Of course, not all signs of a mobile home roof leak are visible. In fact, you may feel soft spots caused by rotten wood when walking along the floor or when touching a wall. Sometimes you may even notice this before you see any spots on the ceiling above. A musty smell is often a telltale sign as well.
Tips For Locating Hard To Find Roof Leaks
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Roof leaks can be cause by missing shingles, gaps in the metal flashing around chimneys and vent pipes, or small holes in the roofing. The source of a leak often isnt obvious on the roof itself, and it can be hard to pinpoint, since the water may run down the roof decking and rafters before dripping onto the ceiling below.
To locate a hard to find roof leak:
*NOTE: Take all safety precautions when positioning ladders and climbing on a roof, and do not attempt to go up on a steep roof.
Watch this video to find out more.
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How To Find Leaks On Mobile Home Roofing
If you do have one of the signs above, or already have buckets catching water, you will need to find and repair leaks on mobile home roofs.
Finding the leak is usually the most difficult part of any type of roof.
Since shingled roofs are most common on modern manufactured homes and flat roofs are most common on older mobile homes, well divide the two types of roofs for both finding and repairing leaks.
Beyond Mobile Home Roof Repair
If the damage to the roof is unsalvageable, then you may have to install a new roof. While there are many roofing options for mobile homes, the following are three common roof replacement options:
- Corrugated metal roofs are easy to install and affordable. Additionally, they are durable and resistant to many harsh weather conditions.
- A seamless rubber roof is made of a single piece of rubber membrane and has no seams. Its the ideal roof for anyone who loves Do It Yourself projects.
- A seamed rubber roof requires a professional to install and can be challenging for a person with only basic roofing installation experience. However, this roof has a thicker membrane than other types which adds durability and more protection.
Finding And Repairing Leaks On Mobile Home Roofs With Shingles
Leaks follow the path of least resistance which can make it difficult to locate the problem. While a leak may reveal itself in one place the actual cause of the leak could be 4 foot above it.
Once water passes the roofing, it flows along the sheathing, roof rafters, or topside of ceilings until it finds a place to drip downinevitably onto your favorite piece of furniture.
Checking For Broken Shingles
While its easy to spot a missing shingle from the ground or in the attic, its quite a task finding one that is broken. In most such cases, the shingle would be broken but still appears to be in place when observed from a distance. This can be caused by various issues among them the weight of snow and ice or having stepped on the roof when checking for something and making repairs.
For such a case, youll need to either climb on the roof or go into the attic or both. First, youll go into the attic to trace the exact location of the leak. In some cases, youll also see the broken shingle from below. In most cases, however, youll need to climb to the roof after marking the exact location of the leak. The best-case scenario would be having someone on the roof while another one in the attic for easy location of the leak. This way, they can coordinate on the right location of the leak and the broken shingle.
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Asphalt Shingle For Mobile Home Roofs
Asphalt is the industry standard for pitched roofing systems, regardless of where the home was built. A felt paper, or underlayment of some kind, is put down on roof board and then strips of asphalt shingles are pinned in place, one overlapping the other side-by-side from the peak and down to the roof line.
For many homeowners, the asphalt shingle provides a manufactured home with a more common site-built look. It performs well, too, particularly since the peaked roof has a natural defense against moisture it rolls off.
Wind is a different topic. In high winds, shingles can pull up and become detached, which creates a domino effect since theyre all pinned together.
Asphalt shingle is more expensive than the flat roof solutions, which is to be expected. Its also less expensive than composite vinyl shingles, which perform well, look good and last longer than asphalt. However, both asphalt and composite shingles cost less than the increasingly popular option of a metal roof replacement.
Make A Temporary Patch
If you do find damage on your roof thats causing a leak, you can make a temporary patch until you can have the roof professionally repaired . This will help prevent any further water damage to your home.
- To make a temporary patch, start by using a putty knife or trowel to apply roofing cement around the perimeter of the hole.
- Then, press a piece of flashing into the cement.
- For extra reinforcement, hammer in some galvanized roofing nails around the edge of the flashing.
You can also use this same method to patch cracks in your flashing. Just be sure to smooth out the cement so that water cant pool in the crack and cause more damage.
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How To Fix A Leaky Roof
Even a small roof leak can cause significant damage to a home, so its important to find and correct a problem as soon as its noticed on the ceiling. The good news is that many issues with roof leaks commonly found in homes can be easily repaired. This guide will give you some tips on how to find a roof leak and how to fix a leaky roof.
How Difficult Are These Repairs To Do
This type of roof repair can be quite inexpensive compared to getting a contractor to do the repairs. The kits, depending on what size you need, can cost at the most 3 thousand dollars but you wont have to pay any of the labor costs that you would run into with a contractor.
First, you will need an extension ladder to get up on the roof. The roof must be swept completely clean first in order to find the leaks. Once you see where the leaks are, take the repair cement and fill these cracks and holes. This acts as a paste to fill the damaged spots. But if the cracks are very large then fiberglass filler is called for. This not only fills the damaged areas but reinforces it as well. Allow at least one day for this material to dry.
Next, you will need to apply some sort of roof coating. There are many types of this coating but the one that works best is white elastomeric coating. This will help to insulate your roof and will cool off the inside of the mobile home as well.
Allow a couple of days for the coating to dry. Always pick a time to do these repairs when there is no inclement weather in the forecast. You dont want it to start raining before you get everything done. If you dont get these repairs done as quickly as possible, it can ruin the entire interior of the mobile home. Mildew and mold will start to form and that causes dangerous health problems. These fungi can destroy curtains, furniture, carpeting, and clothing.
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Checking For Cracked Roof Venting
Your roof has small vents to give moisture a way out of the house and to avoid a buildup and condensation which easily damages the roofing materials. When these vents dont work as needed, moisture will build up within the roof or water will find its way to the rest of the roof.
For this exercise, youll need to climb to the roof to check each vent and establish its integrity. Roof vents are held into place by a combination of rubber boots and flashing around them. Missing or broken flashing and rubber boots will show you the source of the leak. Some vents are also held in place with nails. If the nails are missing or loose, theyll allow water in as well.
Loose Damaged Or Missing Shingles
Replace immediately and check for popped nails need to be hammered back in place carefully.
- Tip: Check the gutters for pieces of shingle, a sign that shingles are damaged.
To test an asphalt shingle roofs condition, bend over a corner of one or two shingles on the sunniest side of the roof if they break rather than flex, or if they appear gray and bloated, the material is nearing the end of its serviceable life.
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Thoroughly Examine Your Attic
Be very careful where you step so you dont fall through the ceiling, but when checking for a leak, its important to investigate your attic. Check for all the signs of water damage and look for the presence of a leak. Consider bringing a flashlight to examine any hard-to-see areas. Look for mold, water stains, or musty smells around the rafters and roof sheathing.
Checking For Leaks On Skylights
Skylights allow the extra light from outside to brighten up rooms. They also help airborne objects such as planes see your house from above. Theyre simply windows on the roof letting in light. Theyre not, however, meant to allow in water in the house. Poor fitting and sealing when installing the skylights allow water to enter the house as a leak.
The best way to find leaks caused by skylights is to climb to the roof and physically examine the area around the skylight for compromised sealing. At times, the material the skylight is made of such as glass or plastic may be broken thus letting in water.
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The Best Way To Repair Roof Leaks
If youre worried your roof is leaking, but dont want to break out the ladder to search for leaks, its time to call in the professionals and fast. While a small leak might not look bad, there could be serious damage under the surface that will only grow worse over time. The good news is, if you catch a leak quickly, your roof will be patched up and looking good as new before any damage can be done. Thats why its best to call your local roofer whenever you suspect a leak!
If you happen to be located near La Crosse, WI, make sure to contact our team at First American Roofing! We are well-versed in roof repairs and replacements and are happy to get you and your home back in tip-top shape. When you find yourself with a leaky roof, dont hesitate and give us a call!