Unfortunately, any roof leak will eventually cause problems. The extent of the problems, and how quickly the damage is done, does depend on the location and size of the leak. It’s important to assess the situation before the problem gets worse.
Here's a few tips you can follow to determine the severity of your roof leak.
Is Water Damage Visible on the Inside of Your Home?
If you notice water stains on your ceilings or walls, you have a serious leak. This is the type of situation that should be repaired immediately. Structural damage may already be occurring. You also face the possibility for mold growth. Ignoring this problem can lead to extensive repair requirements like the replacement of drywall and ceiling materials.
Checking Your Attic
You should check your attic, or any upper storage areas along the eaves. The best time to do this is during a rainstorm. You may need a flashlight. Look along the beams to see if you notice any moisture or drips. Look at the underside of the sheathing to see if there is any staining or swelling. Never attempt to go out on the roof itself, especially during a storm.
Chimneys and flashing around roof penetrations are also common sources of leaks. These areas normally can be repaired inexpensively with the application of sealants or new flashing. If vents and penetrations are visible from an attic or crawl area, look for signs of water running down the pipes.
Leaks That Are Not Currently Causing Damage
Small leaks may not enter your home, but just run along the slope of the roof under the shingles. The problem with this is that the sheathing will eventually become damaged.
Finding the true source of a roof leak is not always easy. If you can see broken or missing shingles, that is most likely the source of your problem. Water also has a tendency to run along beams and studs, showing up as a leak far from where the actual damage is. Major leaks should be repaired quickly. Even minor leaks should not be ignored.