How to Spot Roof Damage From Inside Your Attic

Roof damage can be expensive to repair, and even more so if it is not detected early.

Unfortunately, roof damage can be difficult to notice until it becomes extensive. Many homeowners are inclined to get the ladder out and take a look on the roof itself for damage. Instead, one of the best ways to spot damage is from within the home – from the attic. Inspections done here can often be just as revealing, if not more so, than ones conducted directly on the roof.

There are several things to look for that can help you to spot potential damage. This will allow you to mitigate it before the roof begins leaking, which makes repairs far more extensive and expensive.

One of the best ways to avoid damage – and particularly moisture-related damage – is by using Spray Polyurethane Foam Roofing. This material starts as a liquid but quickly hardens into a solid, waterproof roof. If you are considering a roof replacement anytime soon, it may be worth researching this option more.

Identifying minor damage early can also make your roof last much longer, thus saving you money in the long run.

Check the Flashings

Flashings seal off holes in the roof for vents, chimneys, and skylights. They are frequently a weak area when it comes to potential roof damage. Depending upon the type of materials used for the flashings, they may be susceptible to wear after only a few years. This can be caused by constant exposure to weather phenomena and sunlight/heat.

The majority of roof leaks come from eroded, buckled or worn flashings. This means they have been damaged from tears or that are no longer properly affixed. Flashings around chimneys are especially prone to tears as they stele independently from the rest of the home.

Look for Signs of Wood Damage

Wood damage, including faded spots, decayed areas, or splintered and sagging boards can all signal that water is getting into the attic from somewhere. You may also want to touch many areas of the attic to ensure that you cannot feel any dampness.

Identifying any wood damage is the first step in tracing the leak back to its source, and ensure that it is fixed properly.

Check for the Presence of Mold

Mold often grows in damp conditions. If it is present, water is likely coming in from somewhere. If it is found on the exterior walls of the attic, you may be able to identify the corresponding area outside to determine the source of the leak.

Mold on the interior must also be traced back to find the source of water, and the type of mold must be identified in order to properly treat it.

Look for Ceiling Stains/Peeling Paint

When checking for wood damage, or if your attic has been sheetrocked, the presence of stains can be a tell-tale sign that water is getting in. These stains may be present anywhere on the ceiling. Or even run down walls of the attic.

They are present in higher concentrations around anything that requires a flashing, such as vents, bathroom fans, chimneys, and skylights.

Peeling paint can also be an indicator that water is getting in through a damaged area on the roof. If the amount of water getting in through the roof is significant enough to cause this level of damage, it is clear that repairs must be made as soon as possible. Water can cause extensive damage to the framing, sheathing, and insulation very quickly.

Monitor Air Flow

Airflow can often indicate a leak. A well-sealed attic with minimum airflow may be thought to be ideal, but this is actually not the case. Without adequate airflow, attics can become much hotter and more humid than the rest of the house. This creates ideal circumstances for damage to occur.

Even without a leak or roof damage, high levels of condensation can be very detrimental. Attics should be well-ventilated, which prevents moisture and heat from warping and rotting the rafters.

Check for Incoming Sunlight

Even if you do not detect water anywhere in your attic, there still may be existing damage to your roof. An easy way to check for large unprotected areas is by monitoring the amount of sunlight that is coming in through the roof.

By shutting all of the lights off in the attic and closing any blinds or blocking windows, you may be able to detect any spots that are unprotected. While this method will often not detect small leaks or cracks, large ones can be identified quickly.

Check for Shiners

A shiner is a nail that missed the framing member, and if present, they can cause damage to the attic. This is because moisture can condense on the cold nails at night, which may make them appear white due to frost.

When the attic warms, the frost will drip and may potentially cause damage. While they do not indicate roof damage themselves, shiners should be clipped to prevent moisture damage from impacting other materials in the attic.

Periodically checking your roof, both internally and externally, is a crucial aspect of maintaining it properly. A failure to identify and repair any roof damage can result in a variety of problems. This can include but not limited to:

  • Attic and ceiling damage
  • Interior mold and mildew problems. This may impact the health of individuals living in the home, particularly if toxic black mold develops
  • Fire hazards if water from roof damage comes into contact with any electrical wiring located in the attic or elsewhere
  • Fall hazards if the roof damage is severe enough to cause pooling of water
  • Compromised structural integrity if the damage extends to the rafters, framing, or ceiling joists

Be Proactive

In addition to these major problems, checking the integrity of your roof periodically can also work to lower your utility bills. Roof damage can often be a source of wasted energy. In addition to checking your roof on a regular basis, you may want to also assess it after any severe weather events. This can include those that cause hail or high winds.

These events can frequently serve as a cause of damage or make existing minor leaks much, much worse. As a homeowner, it is important to conduct these regular roof checks, but if you don’t know what to look for, or question the state of any part of your roof after reviewing it, it may be necessary to contact a professional.

While this service generally comes with a fee, it can often save you money in the long run. Being proactive on your roof’s maintenance is much better than dealing with major damage from an on-going, unresolved issue.

If you are looking for a cost-effective, low-maintenance roof that is more resilient from damage, a polyurethane foam roof may be the best option for you.