How to Find a Leak in a Roof
LESLIE: Now we take a roofing question from Roy in California.
Roy, how can we help you?
ROY: When we purchased the home, we were told it was a brand new roof. We found out differently when it started raining. We had a few spots it was leaking from and we didn’t know where because it was, I guess – we’re just trying to figure out: one, how can we figure out where it’s coming from because it’s showing up in the middle of the walls; and two, am I just misunderstanding that my insurance carrier won’t cover that or – I mean what do I do? Where do I start?
TOM: Alright. Well it’s been my experience that an insurance company is not going to cover a condition that’s the result of wear and tear. So if it turns out that your roof is old and cracked and split or you have a flashing leak, that’s something they’re not going to cover. If the damage is the result of a storm – in other words it’s an incident like that; a single incident, an act of God as it’s termed in the insurance business – then they should cover it. And I’ve never heard of a policy that’s going to only cover the shingle repair and not all the water damage that followed. So that part is a bit confusing to me and would seem – why would you buy insurance just to cover the shingle replacement?
In terms of trying to nail down where this is happening – so what are we dealing with here? Is it a very old roof?
ROY: You know I was told – structurally, yes, it is old. I mean it was …
TOM: The roof shingles, I mean.
ROY: The roof shingles, no. I was told, when we bought the home a year-and-a-half ago, that it was recently replaced because …
TOM: OK. Well if it was recently replaced, then chances are the leaks are probably a result of workmanship. It could be flashing, which is where the chimney comes through the roof or the plumbing pipes come through the roofs or walls or roofs intersect and that would be the first place to look. And so somebody has to physically get on the roof and look for a defect in and about the area that you’re seeing this leak or right above it.
LESLIE: Would the defect be pretty obvious? Because sometimes, even if it’s flashed improperly, it’s still underneath the shingles and underneath whatever is going up to your chimney. Would it be something that you could easily see?
TOM: I would start with the obvious, because you might find something, and then work down from there. Another thing that you could do is take a hose and let water run down one side of the roof and one area of the roof at a time and see if you can make it leak. But if it’s a newer roof shingle, it’s probably an installation problem and hopefully it’s not that hard to spot.
ROY: And do you think that I should call my insurance company back then and try – because maybe I’m just wording it to them wrong.
TOM: Yeah, and you know what? If you just get a hard time from them, call an independent insurance adjuster. They work on a percentage …
TOM: … and they know how to put claims in insurance company lingo.
ROY: Alright now.
TOM: Alright, Roy. Good luck with that. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.