How Can You Tell Where a Water Leak Is Coming From?

A Young Woman Using Two Pots to Catch Water from a Water Leak in Her Ceiling.

If You Have a Water Leak from Your Ceiling, You Can Typically Blame the Roof.

It can sometimes prove difficult to find the exact location of a water leak. If you notice puddles on your floor, for example, you may have a leaking appliance, supply valve, or even roof. On top of this, not every leak will even create puddles on the floor. Most, whether from your roof or plumbing, can remain hidden for a long time, steadily creating unseen damage until something drastic announces their presence.

This makes it important to pay attention to indicators like your water bill and water meter, along with sensory indicators like the sound of dripping or running water, or musty, mildew-like smell. If you’ve noticed a sudden increase in your water bills, have a water meter that never stops turning, or hear the sound of running water when no taps are open, then you’ve detected a symptom of a plumbing water leak. Water stains on the ceiling or at the tops of walls more likely indicate a roof leak.

How to Locate a Water Leak

Finding a water leak source can prove tricky, but represents a necessary task to avoid extensive damage. The best you can do as a non-professional is check accessible contenders like your supply lines and water-related appliances. If none of these reveal the leak, it may exist under your home, beneath your yard, or in your roof.

Kitchen and Bathrooms: Check beneath your sinks for signs of moisture damage, and check the supply lines and valves for rust or moisture. Also check the flooring around your water-dependent appliances, toilets, and bathtub, and, if accessible, their supply lines.

Walls and Ceilings: Walk around your home and look for brownish spots on your ceiling or at the tops of your walls. You can also stay attentive for bubbling wallpaper and peeling paint. If you have a two-story home and find signs of a leak in these areas, check the room that sits directly above. If you have a single-story home, then your problem is a roof leak. As for who to call for a water leak in the ceiling, you will need a trusted roofing professional.

Basement and Crawlspaces: Check all the exposed plumbing for rust, moisture, rotted wood, or signs of mold or mildew. Any of these will indicate a leak in your plumbing. Also, make sure to check your water heater. Any moisture around the device indicates a leak, but may not answer where does the water leak come from. This is especially important for water heaters, as a leak in the tank, as opposed to one in the supply line or valve, will require complete replacement of the appliance.

How to Stop a Water Leak

A Water Leak That Has Originated from a Burst Water Line.

Water Leaks Can Also Originate in the Underground Pipes Beneath Your Yard.

If you have determined that the water leak exists in your plumbing, then you can stop any further damage through the shut-off of your water. Every home has a water shut-off valve, typically located where the main water line connects to the house. Turn this valve, and you will stop the leak. Of course, your home will now have no water, so don’t delay your call to the plumber. As for an active leak in your ceiling that likely comes from a roof leak, those should stop relatively soon after the cessation of a storm. To stop them permanently will require the help of a roofing professional.

Roof Repair vs. Replace: Which One for a Leak?

The question of whether your  leaking roof will require repair or replacement depends on the location and severity of the leak. Most of the time, minor roof leaks originate from the types of areas that can benefit from repair. If you find it virtually raining inside your house, however, steel yourself for replacement. Common causes of roof leaks include:

  • Old Age
  • Brick Chimneys
  • Flashing
  • Missing Shingles
  • Vent Boots
  • Holes
  • Gutter Clogs
  • Skylights

The only one of these that will absolutely require roof replacement is old age. The reason for this is that, once a roof has aged to the point where it regularly develops leaks, you will simply begin to waste money on repair. This becomes especially true for flat roofing, as it exists more naturally prone to roof leaks. Missing shingles, if in abundance, can also indicate the need for a new roof. A roof that has lost a great number of shingles clearly has some kind of inherent flaw, or incorporates inferior materials. Either way, you’ll need replacement.

In regards to the others, they can typically benefit from simple repairs. Ever wondered how roof repair for a leak works? The typical DIY solution for all of the above problems, with the exception of a leaking chimney, involves caulk and a small piece of flashing. Simply caulk around the troublesome area, affix the flashing patch, and you’re done. Naturally, this is not a good permanent solution. For that, you’ll need a professional roofer.

Water Leak FAQ

What Causes Water Leaks?

A Ceiling Stain Reveals a Water Leak.

To Protect Your Home, Pay Attention to the Signs of Water Leaks.

Any number of things can cause a water leak. If the leak exists on your roof, its cause could be old age, rusted or corroded flashing, a deteriorating chimney, missing shingles, damage from a storm, holes from hail or pests, and damage from tree limbs and debris. If in your plumbing, the cause could appear as deteriorating pipes, pressure build-up behind clogs, shifts in the soil, tree roots that have penetrated an underground pipe, loose fittings or valves, or any number of other things.

Is a Leaking Roof an Emergency?

This depends on its severity. If you have a slow drip, it can likely wait until normal business hours. If your roof is leaking in multiple places, or you have a sizable stream emerging from your ceiling, call for immediate aid. Bottom line, listen to your gut. If it feels like an emergency, then it probably is.

How Much Does it Cost to Repair the Roof?

The cost to repair a leaking roof can range from a couple hundred dollars for a small patch, to many thousands for a whole new roof. Without an inspection from a qualified professional, you simply cannot know.

Is a Water Leak Covered by Homeowner’s Insurance?

This depends on the circumstances of the leak, the type of damage, and the nature of your insurance policy. As a general rule, water damage that occurs suddenly is covered. This can include water damage from a flood, storm, burst pipe, or overflowing sewer. You’ll notice that of these, the only two that you could construe as “leaks” are damage from storms and burst pipes. Slow leaks that cause damage over time will typically not fall under a policy’s coverage. Do not take our word for it, though. Instead, read your policy or call your insurance company.

For help with a roof water leak in Colorado Springs, CO, reach out to the experienced professionals at Reynolds Roofing Systems. We’re always glad to help, and can answer any questions you might have with a quick call to (719) 368-7654.