How to Find a Leak in a Roof and Fix It?

A close look image of a leaking roof

Sometimes you hear it first. Sometimes you see a new stain spreading on your ceiling, and sometimes you feel it land right on your head. No matter how you notice it, the dreaded drip of a leaking roof is always an unpleasant discovery.

Aside from being annoying, a roof leak can wreak havoc on your property, and it always needs immediate attention. Fortunately, do-it-yourself fixes are possible, if you know how to find a leaking roof—although the task can be tricky. The next time you’ve got a roof leak, don’t just put a bucket down and forget about it once the rain stops. Do something about it.

What Causes a Leaky Roof?

Roofs are a building’s first line of defence against all sorts of elements: strong winds, hailstorms, heavy rain, etc. As such, they’re built to withstand a great deal of damage while upholding their structure. However, there is a range of potential threats that can cause damage to your roof, resulting in a leak. Missing or damaged shingles, loose seals around chimneys and skylights, flashing leaks, compromised gutters, falling debris, and many more can leave you in need of a roof leak repair.

check out our tips for repairing roof leaking issue

5 Signs of a Leaky Roof

Finding a leak in your roof is not always as simple as it may seem. Due to the array of factors that could cause your initial leak, locating the source is not always obvious. Here are a few of the signs you should look for to identify a potential leak in your roof:

1. Water Stains

A water stain can vary from being incredibly obvious to frustratingly subtle. A leaky roof could appear as a large puddle often surrounded by a brown ring on your ceiling. For smaller water stains or ones that occur in tough-to-spot places, check for discolouration, mold, and moisture on the ceiling and walls.

2. Dripping

Any signs of moisture on your walls or ceiling should be thoroughly evaluated. If you notice drips, moisture, or staining on the walls, it’s time to have a roofing contractor take a deeper look. Even if the dripping is occasional, it could be a sign of an ice dam that is melting and freezing intermittently.

3. Roof Damage

While this may be an obvious one, it’s key to preventing further damage to both the interior and exterior of your home or commercial building. Check for signs of roof damage, such as missing shingles, cracks or holes in the roofing material, loose seams around your chimney, or excessive debris in your downspouts. A patchy roof is a sure-fire way to welcome leaks into your space.

4. Exterior Water Spots

If you look at the spot where your building meets your roof, check for signs of moisture. Water spots in this area could be a sign of an issue with the flashing of your roof.

How to Locate a Roof Leak?

Before you can do your own roof leak repair, you should be finding a roof leak. Unfortunately, leaks don’t always line up with where the water is dripping through the ceiling. Once the water enters through the source of the leak, it can run for some distance—along rafters and other structural elements—until it finds a point in the ceiling where it stops flowing and drips through.

You can look for the leak location from inside your attic, or from on top of your roof (if it’s safe for you to go up there—don’t do this if it’s still raining, or if the roof is at a steep angle). Water always flows to the lowest point it can, so look “uphill” from the drip to find the culprit hole in your leaking roof.

If a visual inspection doesn’t locate the source of the roof leak, you might be able to find it with the help of a friend and a garden hose. When the weather is dry, have one person get on top of the roof. Once there, the person up top should spray down the roof, in isolated areas, starting “downhill” and working upward, while the other person observes the leak from inside the house.

What to do if you can’t find a leak in the roof

If you can’t find a leak in the roof, you must direct a continuous flow of water to the area to be leaked. As you can imagine, this method can take some time, as you may need to keep a steady flow of water on the leaky spot before it begins to drip through. However, once that happens, you can identify the area where the roof leak is located, and mark it for repair or closer inspection.

Here are some locations where leaks can form on the roof

  • Broken, worn, or missing roof shingles
  • Loose, rusted, or missing nails
  • Worn or improperly sealed flashing

A Quick Emergency Fix Leak Roof

A Quick Emergency Fix Roof Leaking

If you need a temporary cover for a roof leak before you repair it, you can make one with a tarp or some plastic sheeting and four two-by-fours. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Pick the right size of tarp from the hardware store or cut a piece of heavy plastic sheeting large enough to cover the leaky area from the eaves to the peak, plus about four feet extra
  2. Wrap one end of the plastic around a two-by-four the same width as the sheet
  3. Staple the plastic to the two-by-four, and nail the second two-by-four onto it
  4. Do steps 2 and 3 to the other end of the plastic sheet
  5. Place one set of the attached two-by-fours along the eaves and run the other end of the sheet up over the top of the roof
  6. In addition to the two-by-fours you can put some extra weight to ensure the tarp doesnt blow off such as sand bags.
    This WikiHow article explains this well.

The two-by-fours weighed down will help ensure the tarp doesn’t blow it off the roof. Don’t nail the two-by-fours or any part of the sheet directly to your roof, or you’re going to have more leaks to repair!

A Simple Fix for Leaky Holes in the Roof

When you know exactly where a leaky hole in your roof is, you can temporarily fix it with a twelve-inch square of galvanized sheet metal flashing.


  • Lift up the shingle covering the hole. You can pry up nails if necessary
  • Slide the metal flashing up under the shingle so that it covers the hole

Any water that falls on this spot should run off over the sheet metal, missing the hole.

Minimizing Internal Damage:

The first and essential step in the repairing of the leak in the roof, to protect the internal design of the house. Because of the leaking problem, it will cause you with the water problem and mold growth.

  • First, you have put the bucket strictly under the water leak place, which will protect your floor from damage. You can also set the string on the ceiling, which will help the water to flow into the bucket directly, not on the surrounding floor.
  • Because of the leakage, your precious things will damage the furniture, electronic items, or valuable things. Immediately you have to move these things away from the leakage. If some things are non- movable, then you have to cover it with plastic and sheets.

When It’s Time to Call the Pros

Working on roofs can be dangerous, and fixing a leak around moldy or rotten wood takes a lot more than just a plastic or metal patch. Also, leaks can often occur around skylights, chimneys, and other structures that aren’t easy to cover with quick DIY fixes.

For a long-term solution, or to fix a difficult leak, you’ll want to get professional roofing services. Experienced roofers will be able to locate roof leaks, no matter where they’re hiding, and they can provide permanent roof leak repairs, no matter what type of roof you have.

Inevitably, most people will need roofing repair at some time or other, but don’t let a leaky roof dampen your spirits. As long as you take proactive steps to deal with problems as soon as you notice them, you can minimize any damage to your home.

Cost to Repair a Leaky Roof in Vancouver

Leaky Roof Repair Cost by Material

The type of roofing material needed to repair your leaky roof will impact the cost. While this will vary between projects, materials such as slate tend to be cheaper than shingles, clay tiles, and wood. The material of the roof affects the complexity of the repair and affects the cost of labor. Materials that are more labor-intensive, such as metal and wood will cost more than slate and composite.

To receive an accurate assessment of your roof repair, consult the team at Canuck Roofing. They believe in fair pricing and quality work to optimize your experience as a valued customer.

Average Cost to Repair a Roof Leak

There are many factors that affect the cost to repair a leaky roof. The materials, labor, time of year, size of repair, etc. will determine a higher or lower overall cost. As fixing a roof leak involves sealing the leak, replacing the roofing material, and lastly resealing the new installment, the larger the affected area, the higher the cost.

On average, roof repairs cost between $350 to $1,500. Should only a couple shingles need replacing, the cost could be as low as $150, however, if you’re needing to repair a damaged solar roof, the average cost could be as high as $3,800. While these are average repair costs, yours could be higher or lower depending on the job. It’s always best to consult a roofing contractor directly to receive an accurate, up-to-date quote.

If you’re experiencing issues with your roof, the leaking roof repair experts at Canuck Roofing are here to help with your roof leak repair. With years of experience in installing, maintaining, and repairing all types of roofs for residential and commercial buildings, their team of roofing contractors in Burnaby can solve any issue.