You can’t have too many roofs in your inventory without dealing with leaks. If you rehab, you EXPECT to find ceiling stains, the tell tale sign of a leaky roof, in almost every project. I find projects without signs of past or present leaks the exception to the norm!

Sometimes shingles are just going to need replaced. There is no getting around it. Curled shingles, and numerous leaks are a pretty good indication that it would be cheaper to replace the roof rather than repair. Just factor that into the repairs and accept it. It’s one thing you won’t have to worry about if you are keeping the property, and it ups the value whether you keep it or sell it on the retail market after the rehab.

If the shingles still have some life on them, but there is some leakage to repair, finding the real source of the problem can take multiple tries. It can get pretty aggravating as you sometimes try and fail to fix a leaky roof. Naturally, you want to try to fix this without calling out an expensive professional roofer or roofing expert for some roof repair. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t. Here are some tips for diagnosing roof leaks.

If the stain is small and circular, it usually means the amount of water is small…lucky you. If the stain region is larger, it may still be an easy fix especially if it is a single hole. If there is enough rain making onto the ceiling drywall, it will pool and soak in. This will make it look like a massive leak, when it might be a one-shingle repair (plus some new ceiling drywall). The garden hose trick will quickly tell you if the problem is a single hole, or your roof is like Swiss cheese.

Stains that appear along a line may indicate that water is draining along a rafter or truss. Inspect that rafter starting from the top looking for signs of water. The source may be a single hole that is sending water down the rafter making multiple stains show up in a line.

On the other hand when stains are out near the roof edges, they are the trickiest to diagnose. Why? The source of the water could be from higher in the roof than where the stain is. The water could be getting under a shingle near the peak, draining down between the shingles and ply, and finally leaking at the point you are seeing the stain. It’s just hard to tell upon initial inspection. Get into the roof and check out the rafters around that area for signs of water stains? If you’re lucky you’ll see light and a hole. If you’re not that lucky, it’s time to get on the roof and see what you can find. If you don’t find anything obvious, it’s time to call a roofer…that is, unless you decide to replace the whole roof.

With roof leaks, there are no short cuts. It’s easier and cheaper in the long run to aggressively diagnose the leak problem and seek hidden leaks that just haven’t soaked through the ceiling drywall yet. Don’t assume that once you find one hole in the roof, or a cracked shingle that the problem is fixed. Get that hose out and confirm it! There is something about climbing in an attic and on a roof that isn’t fun to re-do.

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