How to Find Roof Leaks in Your Home

Roof leaks can be hard to find, since they often run down the underside of sheathing or rafters to show up far from their actual source. The best time to try and find a leak is when it’s raining outside, or you can also mimic rain conditions by spraying water on the roof.

Go in the attic and look for damp spots or water stains, trace them back to their highest point, then examine that part of the roof for any potential problems.


  1. What about leaky roofs that don’t have any attic or crawl space between the ceiling and the roof? How do I find those leaks? One is in my kitchen, and there are 3 on the front porch.

  2. Hi Ciara, I assume you’re talking about cathedral ceilings, where the drywall is attached directly to the underside of the roof rafters. In that case, you’ll have to inspect the roof from the outside to find the source of the leak. However, it’s important to do the inspection while standing safely on the ground. Use binoculars, if necessary, and carefully scan the entire roof. Look for missing or cracked shingles, damaged ridge vent, and rotted or badly bent metal flashing around vent pipes, chimneys, dormers and sidewalls. If you see anything suspicious, call a roofing contractor. And remember, it doesn’t take much for water to leak in. A single ripped or missing shingle will compromise the weatherproofness of the roof. Thanks for writing and good luck!–Joe T.

  3. Depending on how bad the roof leak is, you may find it is covered by insurance if you have an open peril (aka all risk) policy. While homeowner’s insurance won’t pay to fix the roof it will pay for the resultant damage. When inspecting your property keep insurance in mind.
    Bill Coffman

  4. Water is still showing up in tle lower level storage area of a 3 story home
    The roof is 3 years old on the home we just purchased 5 mo ago
    We have added flashing to the top roof and inspected around the chimney
    We have coated the mid deck after sealing any cracks
    Water drips down 2 joists at first floor inside on 2 ceiling joists
    3 different repair people cannot solve the leak problem

    Its going to rain soon and we have a tenant staying in a ground level studio area.

  5. We have a roof leak in the sunroom located in the back of the house. The tough part about finding it is there is no attic over the sunroom. I have checked the roof for oblivious signs of damaged shingles. Would checking the area more thorough where the sunroom roof and the attic meet a good place to start?

    • Hi, Mike,
      We recommend using the tips in this video to find that leak. If this test doesn’t seem to work for your situation, a thorough check of the area you described is a fine place to start!
      And the next time it rains, use leaks for clues about the general origin.
      Good luck!


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