Unable to find leak

esweltinJanuary 20, 2011

Hello! In desperation I am writing for some help trying to figure out where a leak in our ceiling is originating.

We've owned this house for about a year and a half. We discovered this fall that in one of the bedrooms (se corner) there is a leak of some sort. It almost looks like condensation dripping from the ceiling. Both my husband and a roofer has been up to try to identify the leak. The roofer can't see any source from the roof, everything looks dry-he even took pictures and showed us. The area is at the very SE corner of the house and is very hard to reach as the roof slopes there. Originally there was no insulation there so my husband tried putting some down. That still hasn't solved the problem.

What is the likelihood the water is coming in from the sofit outside and how should we identify that? My husband is talking about cutting a hole in the ceiling which I think is an awful idea! Help before I have a gaping hole in the ceiling and a leak to boot!

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Water will run down rafters and belie its true source. I know this from experience. I once had to replace an entire roof because no one could find the source, but that was a flat roof with no attic. Can you get into your attic and inspect for leakage? You didn't state that the problem only occurs when it rains. Do you by chance have a vent fan that runs its exhaust line near to the leak? You could try localizing the problem by using your hose on different parts of the roof to try to localize the problem (start from low and go to high), but that depends on the conditions that cause the problem. If it takes 2 days of steady rain for the leak to start, the hose test will likely not work.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 4:03PM
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The description you gave sounds very much like a leak higher in the roof that causes the water to run along a rafter to that corner.

One way to try and find the place that is leaking is to staple a cloth about halfway up the rafter. Staple it on both sides of the rafter and wait for the time when the ceiling usually leaks. Putting a pan under the cloth catches any water. Check that cloth. If it is wet, the leak is above the cloth. Look above the cloth for the cause of the leak.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 4:16PM
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I once had a roof leak where the source was about 1 foot higher, but about 10 feet away in an almost horizontal direction. The roof was not quite level and the water would travel sideways before finally starting to drip.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 4:53PM
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A couple things I've encountered that you might consider:

See if the gutter has pulled away from the house. It might have pulled the fascia out with it, leaving a gap for water to enter. Also check for clogged gutters and whether you have a drip edge under the bottom edge of the roof.

Also check all the plumbing vents, especially any horizontal ones in the attic. You might have a joint that wasn't glued, allowing rain water to get it.

Also check the roof caps around the vents.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 9:48PM
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Another possibility is condensation in the attic, so the water may not be coming from an actual leak.

A hole in the ceiling is not that hard to patch unless you have a cottage cheese type finish, and if it pinpoints the leak it may be the way to go.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 1:13AM
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