Learn how to find the source of your leaking roof. Get tips on how to use technology and infrared heat to detect the source of a roof leak.
LESLIE: Dan in Texas needs some help with a leaky roof . What can we do for you today?
DAN: Hi. Well, my dad’s getting older. He’s got a couple of shingles – it’s a shingle roof – leaking into the attic.
DAN: Not a lot; just drops. How do I get on the top and find those holes? I’ve been underneath. We’ve used magnets and all kinds of stuff to center right under the spot where it’s leaking at but how do I – what am I looking for underneath the shingle?
TOM: Well, typically, roofs are going to leak wherever there is a protrusion through the roof. So, for example, a waste pipe from a plumbing system or intersection of two roofs that come together or intersection with a lower roof with a second-story wall or something of that nature or around a chimney. So those are the most likely culprits.
How old is your dad’s house, Dan?
DAN: Oh, God, it’s 50 years old.
TOM: Do you know if his roof is …
DAN: But the roof is about 15 years old.
TOM: OK. You know that’s interesting because I was going to tell you that about 15 years ago we started using fiberglass-based shingles as opposed to cotton-based shingles and the fiberglass shingles can tend to crack and if they do crack they can leak. Unfortunately, the cracks are kind of hard to find – you almost have to be walking on the roof to see them – but what you’ll find is where the old shingles used to sort of curl up and shrink and lose some of their granules …
LESLIE: Yeah, to let you know that they were sort of failing.
TOM: Yeah, the fiberglass shingles will just fracture – is the best way to put it. And I’ve been on these roofs and looked down and just seen a whole bunch of broken shingles cracked right through but, again, you can’t see them until you’re right on top of it.
The other way to do this, which is – there’s a tool that could be used to find a leak, that’s basically an infrared heat gun, so to speak. It’s used very often to find energy leaks in houses. But you will find that when you get a water leak that the temperature of the roof where the water is …
LESLIE: Is different enough to register on the scan.
TOM: It’ll show as a cold spot.
DAN: Is this something I’ll need a second mortgage to buy, though?
TOM: Yeah, well …
LESLIE: No, you could rent it or hire an inspector who has one.
TOM: (overlapping voices) You can hire somebody that has one.
DAN: Oh, OK.
LESLIE: And then they simply come in and sort of scan the area and they can pinpoint exactly where this leak is coming from on both sides so you know exactly where the repair needs to be done. And it can help you save a lot of time and energy as far as, you know, trying to sort of pin the tail on the donkey so you know exactly where to do the repair.
TOM: I would …
DAN: We’ve been pulling up shingle by shingle and tarring underneath each one.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, boy.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, gosh. No. I think that’s worth the rental. (chuckles)
TOM: Yeah. (laughs) Right there.
TOM: Well, I hope that gave you some ideas, Dan. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.