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Roof Leaks: Where Do They Most Commonly Occur?

Roof Leaks

By Mahendra KumawatPublished 3 months ago 3 min read

Many homeowners are annoyed by roof leaks, and diagnosing them can be challenging due to varying weather conditions causing leaks in different places.

Gravity is the principle most roof coverings use, aiding in locating the source of a leak. However, horizontal roof boards can be deceiving, and you may not spot the leak until you are eight to ten feet away.

While some leaks are easily found, others may require detective work or the use of a garden hose. If you're uncomfortable climbing on the roof, Old Time Roofing offers a free analysis of roof damage. Locating even the smallest leaks can be difficult, but these tips may help.

The Field of Shingles

If your roof is old, the leak may be in the roof field—the area of shingles, slates, or shakes. While asphalt roofs are easy to walk on, materials like slates, concrete tiles, or clay tiles may not be as forgiving. Exercise caution to avoid cracking the roof, and inspect vertical knockouts on regular shingles for missing granules or visible cracks.


A valley is the intersection of two roof planes, typically managed using metal flashings. Improperly trimmed shingles can lead to issues in valleys, so ensure proper trimming to prevent water flow problems. The simple second cut, creating an arrow-point, is crucial and explained in the shingle wrapping.

Head Wall Flashings

For roofs ending at a vertical wall, metal flashing diverts water down the wall. Proper placement and extension of the flashing are essential, and stains may indicate unsuccessful attempts to fix leaks using tar, caulk, or roofing cement.

Wall Step Flashing

Step flashings, located where the roof angles along a wall, can cause leaks if rusted or damaged. Regular checks for rust and holes are recommended.


Chimneys are a common source of leaks, and correct installation of the four available flashings is crucial. Pay attention to the counter flashing in the brick mortar joint, and avoid using tar, caulk, or roofing cement. Inspect for cracks or holes in soldered corners.

Plumbing Vent Flashings

Newer vent flashings with rubber gaskets may wear out in 10 to 15 years. Check for cracks around the plumbing pipe, and ensure proper extension under and up the shingles. The flashing's bottom half should be visible, covering the shingles.

Furnace or B Vent Flashing

Similar to plumbing vent flashings, these may come with a metal storm cap. Ensure a proper fit around the vertical pipe, as loose storm collars can lead to leaks.

Ice Dam Leaks

In snow-prone areas, ice dam leaks can occur, blocking water flow and causing accumulation under flashings and shingles. Installing membranes beneath the roof can prevent such leaks.

Leaks from Wind-Blown Rain

Wind-driven rain can be a significant issue. Even with a well-constructed roof, wind can drive water under roofing materials. Consider hemming the edges of metal valleys and using roofing cement under shingles for roofs facing strong winds, especially with sustained winds reaching 70 mph.

This post was written by Ted Williams! Ted is the owner of A Old Time Roofing which is the premier Clearwater Roofing Companies Contractor! Ted is a Master Elite Weather Stopper GAF Roofing Contractor, a double award winner of Best Steep-Slope Contractor from GAF and achiever of Master Elite Consumer Protection Excellence from GAF. He has been serving the Pinellas County area since 1978. Old Time Roofing has a tradition of quality workmanship, servicing residential and commercial properties.


Why are roof leaks challenging to diagnose, and how do varying weather conditions contribute to the difficulty?

Top leaks are challenging to diagnose because varying weather conditions can cause leaks in different places. The go-ahead nature of weather brings in complexity, making it difficult to isolate the exact source of a leak.

What role does gravity play in locating roof leaks, and why can horizontal roof boards be deceiving?

Gravity helps in finding roof leaks by guiding the flow of water. Though, horizontal roof boards can be misleading as water may travel horizontally for a distance before displaying as a leak, making it hard to detect the source instantly.

When should homeowners think about seeking expert analysis for roof damage, and what does Old Time Roofing offer in this regard?

Owners should consider seeking pro scrutiny for roof damage if they are uncomfortable climbing on the roof or if leaks are challenging to recognize. Old Time Roofing offers a free analysis of rooftop damage for people in such situations.


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