DIY: How to Track Down a Roof Leak


Do you have stains that run down any of your walls or across ceilings? If so, you very likely have a leak somewhere in your roof. The most difficult part of dealing with this kind of leak is tracking down its source. Once this is done, the rest is fairly simple. It is very important to deal with a roof leak immediately. Putting off even a very small leak can result in major damage to your home, which may include mold, rot, ruined insulation, or even the need to replace your entire roofing system.  We will discuss leaks that you can find and fix yourself, no experience required!


What to Look For When Tracking Down a Leak

If you are able, go up into your attic to try to pinpoint the leak. Look uphill from where you see stains or mold on the walls or ceilings. If you don’t have an attic or are unable to access your attic, you will need to go up on the roof to search for the leak or call a professional to do this for you. Look for any areas where water may be getting through. Leaks usually occur around structural elements on the roof such as chimneys, vents, dormers, skylights, or anything else that may be projecting from the roof.

Sometimes leaks are easy to spot, while at other times they can require some detective work to find. If you are walking your roof to search for leaks, be sure and check shingles, valleys (where two planes of the roof intersect), flashing, and structural elements. If you are having difficulty locating the leak, it’s time to grab a water hose and an assistant. Have your assistant go inside and survey the area close to where you believe the leak to be. You will need to go up on the roof and slowly run water from the hose over different areas of the roof, testing out where the leak could be. (This is usually possible for homeowners with asphalt shingles that are safe to walk on. Slate, clay tile, and concrete tile could crack under pressure.) Start in the area above where the leak appears to be inside the home. Run the hose in that spot, soaking it for several minutes before moving to another zone. Only soak a small area at a time, such as at the bottom of a skylight or chimney, then slowly make your way up towards the top of the roof. Your assistant should watch for any signs of water penetration and inform you when they see something. This could be a long process, but be patient. Once your assistant sees signs of water, you will have a very good idea of where the leak is and be able to move on to fixing the problem.

If you can’t find the exact location of the leak, you may need to remove some of the shingles around the area you suspect. Without the shingles covering the area, you will be able to much more clearly see exactly where the leak is located. The area will be water-stained, discolored, moldy, or rotted.


Items You’ll Need Before Attempting to Fix Your Leak

According to The Family Handyman, you will save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you are well prepared ahead of time by having these tools and materials handy:


  • Hammer
  • Flashlight
  • Pry bar
  • Putty knife
  • Tin snips
  • Caulk gun
  • Cordless drill/driver


  • Metal flashing
  • Roof caulk
  • Siding caulk
  • Roofing nails
  • Rubber-washer screws
  • Plumbing boots
  • Roof vents

We will discuss the main problem areas that are the sources of most roof leaks in more detail in the next blog, as well as how to repair them. If you have a leak in your roof that needs fixing, don’t delay! Every day you let it go will add up, becoming more costly to repair and causing more damage to your home and your health. Contact Hedrick Construction right away for any repairs or emergency services needed! We are located in Huxley, Iowa and proudly serve Ankeny, Ames, and the surrounding areas.


“Thank you so much for everything! You did a fantastic job!”

- Peggie

“Our roof and gutters are awesome. The color we picked for the shingles is beautiful. Your crews are very professional & did a great job. We would recommend your company to anyone. You breakdown of everything so we could see what’s what is the best”

- Pam

“Thank you so much. Very happy with everything. The crew that was here and worked on the roof was great! Would highly recommend your business to anyone needing work”

- James & Karen

“Thank you for the great work. The roof looks great! The crew was very polite & everything was cleaned up very well afterward”

- Stacy