Diagnosing a roof leak, which means finding its source, is the first step in repairing it. However, the diagnosis is complicated, especially for non-professionals. Below are specific reasons for the diagnosis difficulties.

The Leaks Are Not Always Visible

A common problem with roof leaks is that they are sometimes invisible and do not always leave visible signs. For example, water can penetrate the outer roofing material but not reach inside your house. Internal roofing materials can absorb water before it reaches the ceiling. Such internal leaks can cause damage for a long time before you realize it.

In some cases, the water may penetrate the roof but flow down the ceiling, where the wall absorbs it. Such leaks may dry up before you notice anything.

Roofing contractors have the tools and equipment to detect internal leaks. For example, they use infrared scanners that show moisture accumulation within or between roofing layers. However, homeowners or nonprofessionals rarely detect such leaks.

Leak Signs and Sources Don't Always Align

Water leaks can discolor your ceiling or walls, especially if the surfaces are light-colored. One of the best leak detection methods is to start from the stained or discolored parts and trace the water path. However, the discolorations and leak points do not always align.

For example, water leaking from a point usually flows down the roof before causing damage. The water can flow sideways, for example, by following roof structures. Thus, tracing the water path doesn't guarantee you will identify its source.

Old and New Leak Signs Are Confusing

Water leaks sometimes leave marks or stains on the walls and ceiling. Many people use these signs to diagnose leaking roof sections. However, a mixture of old and new leak marks complicates the process.

Consider a case where your roof leaks and you use the ceiling stains to diagnose and plug the leaks. Sometime later, other roof sections also leak and leave their marks. Unless you dealt with the old marks when you fixed the leaks, you would have a hard time differentiating them from the current ones.

Other Water Problems Mimic Leaks

Lastly, leaks are difficult to diagnose because internal water sources mimic leaks. For example, inadequate attic ventilation allows warm, moist air to collect and condense in the attic. The condensed moisture will appear as leaks and even discolor your house, just as roof leaks do.

Contact a roofing contractor to diagnose your leaking roof. That way, you can plug the leak before it causes extensive damage.