Home Leak Detection: Check Your Gutters, Roof, and Siding

Learn home water leak detection.
Prevent ceiling water damage like this by reading below.

How to Test for Water Leaks in Your House

Have you started working on our fall home maintenance checklist? In that checklist, we discuss inspecting your home for water leaks. Water can do some serious damage to your home. Don’t wait until winter to check your house for water damage. Home water leaks can lead to structural damage and expensive repairs. In this post, we’ll focus on inspecting three common places around your home where leaks can occur—your gutters, your roof, and your siding.

How to Test Your Gutters for Leaks

Gutters prevent water damage to your home’s foundation by directing rain water away from it. Water can erode the soil around your foundation, contribute to mold growth, and over time, it can damage your home’s structural integrity. It’s important to test your gutters periodically to ensure that they are working properly and to catch minor issues before they destroy your property.

Clean Your Gutters.

Before you start inspecting your gutters for water leaks, you need to remove any leaves and debris from your gutters. Try to clean your gutters out regularly every fall and spring. You will need to clean out your gutters more often if you live in an area that is surrounded by many trees.

Test Gutters for Leaks.

Once your gutters are free of debris, do a hose test for leaks and fix anything that needs to be repaired.

    1. Get in position. Set up a ladder at a spot around your home where you can access the tops of the gutters easily and safely (preferably on level ground).
    2. Run the hose. Grab a garden hose, turn it on, and unwind it so you can carry it up the ladder to your position. Put the hose inside the gutter so the water will run into it. You will either need to secure the hose inside the gutter or have a helper to hold the hose in position for you.
    3. Survey the perimeter. Walk around your entire house and look for water dripping down from the gutters in areas where it shouldn’t be. Move the hose into new parts of your home’s gutter system in order thoroughly test the entire system for leaks. Have a flashlight on hand for dark areas of your gutter system.
    4. Write down problem areas. Pay attention to any problem areas you find during your leak check. Make a plan to repair or replace these areas in order to keep the gutter system healthy.

There are lots of reasons why gutters leak. Your gutters may have some rust or they could be badly damaged from a storm. Small holes in your gutters can be patched with gutter sealant or a metal repair patch kit. If leaves and debris are causing your gutters to leak, you can install gutter guards to keep them out of your gutters. You can use aluminum flashing to repair any holes if you have aluminum gutters. If the damage to your gutter is more severe, you may need to have a professional from M&M come and assess your gutter system.

How to Test Your Roof for Leaks

Don’t put your hose or your flashlight away just yet because you’re going to need them to test your roof for leaks. Also, remember that finding a leak in your roof is usually the hardest part while fixing the problem is usually easy. Water can enter the roof from one spot and then run down to another spot before it begins to soak into the ceiling.

One of the easiest ways to hunt down a leak is to go into your attic with a flashlight and look for signs of moisture such as water stains, black marks, or mold.

Test for Roof Leaks.

If you do not have attic access, you need to find a helper and go up onto your roof for a hose test.

  1. Bring your garden hose with you up on the roof.
  2. Run water just above the place where the leak occurs in the house or where you think it might be located. Start with a small amount of water at first. Be thorough as you test areas of your roof. Allow the water to run for several minutes in one spot before moving it up the roof a bit farther. The entire process could take over an hour so be patient.
  3. Keep your helper inside the house looking for a drip to appear. Have your helper communicate via cell phone when he or she sees a drip.

After you pinpoint the location on the exterior of the roof, apply roofing cement or new shingles as needed.

If you don’t have an attic or you can’t find the source of the leak, you can check the following areas for water damage: pipe penetrations (rubber seals around the electric service and plumbing vent pipes, air vents, and exhaust fan flashing), ridge cap, flashing, shingles, gutters and downspouts, and dormer alleys.

How to Check for Leaky Siding

It may seem strange, but the most common type of siding to have moisture issues is vinyl siding. This type of siding is loosely attached to a house so that it can flex in hot and cold temperatures. Vinyl siding therefore provides a lot of room for rain to enter underneath it. Look for algae and stains on the exterior of your siding as well as discolored paint and wallpaper inside your home. These are usually signs that water has trickled in where it shouldn’t be.

  1. Check around the tops of windows and doors for water. For windows, look at where the siding is capped off with a trim piece and make sure that piece is correctly attached to your house. It should move, but it should not be completely free if you pull at it. Be sure to caulk along the seams of the siding where it meets the window.
  2. Make sure all caulking is in proper shape and replace old caulking with a high-quality sealant.
  3. If there’s a leak somewhere else, remove the siding and inspect the walls behind it to figure out where the water is coming in.

If you are living with water leaks, call M&M Home Remodeling Services professionals today for a free in-home consultation at: 1.800.930.2905. Find out more about our roof maintenance and repairs here. For a siding upgrade, check out our quality siding services and products here. If you’re considering gutter system replacement, learn more here.