The roof over your house is the one thing protecting you from all of the elements that mother nature can wield whether it be wind, rain, hail, or lightning. This is why being aware of the overall health and state of your roof is so crucial in ensuring the prolonged integrity of your home.

A roof that’s been weakened and causes roof leaks will not only become costlier to repair the longer you leave it, but it will also become incrementally more hazardous as well. In order to know when repairs are needed, however, you’ll need to become aware of the main warning signs to look out for when it comes to your roof leaks.

So here are four methods you can use for determining the seriousness of your leaky roof and whether or not you should call in the pros.

Is The Leak Widespread or Contained to a Few Small Areas?

One factor to consider when assessing the damage severity of your leaky roof is the general spread of leaks across the roof itself. Are there multiple leaks across a wide area, or are there only a few small spots where water is actually managing to penetrate? Answering this question is key to determining whether you’ll have to call in a professional or not.

The simplest way to find out is to go outside and get up on a ladder to examine the shingles and flashing of your roof. Doing this safely is the number one priority. Protect yourself from injury by staying off the roof itself unless absolutely necessary and, preferably, by having someone on the ground to ensure the ladder is secure.

Check the roof from multiple locations around your home and look for shingles or flashing that have been visibly damaged, unsecured, or completely removed. If you only spot a few problem areas that have been penetrated in a relatively minor fashion, you should be able to make the replacements yourself, assuming you’re handy with basic tools.

On the other hand, widespread damage to shingles and flashing all across your roof is a sure sign that you’re going to need to call in a professional. In such cases there will more than likely also be underlying issues beneath the outer layers of shingles that will have to be dealt with by a trained roofer.

Do You Have Water Dripping from Your Ceiling?

Another sign that can help you with determining the severity of your leaky roof is the presence of active leaks coming down from your ceiling. You’ll either find no such leaks visible anywhere across your ceiling, in which case exterior shingle and flashing replacement should do the trick, or a combination of stained areas and active dripping, which is likely when professional assistance will be required.

Check every room in your house. If you end up finding multiple problem areas with the issues mentioned (stains and drips) then that’s a fairly good sign that the external openings on the outside of your roof are not your only problem.

There may in fact be water-damaged areas on the roof’s underside. At the very least, having a contractor make an assessment in this case can reveal whether a simple patch job will be sufficient or not.

Is the Underlying Decking Warped or Stained?

Closely related to the issue of active leaks is whether the underlying decking of your roof has become warped or stained. You can find this out if your home has an attic or crawlspace that will give you access to your roof’s interior.

There you’ll want to be on the lookout for beams and panels that have extensive signs of stains and warping across their surface. In the worst-case scenarios you may even come across wooden sections that are cracked or in the process of cracking because of prolonged water damage.

Also, the overall moisture level inside your attic or crawlspace is an excellent way to gauge the severity of damage to your leaky roof. A high amount of moisture is often a result of breakage in the roof’s perimeter seal. Combined together, stains, warping and high moisture are all signs that you probably need to call in a professional.

Is There Visible Mould Growth?

A leaky roof involves moisture build-up, and any time there’s a collection of moisture in one place for a long enough period there will always be the possibility of mould growth developing and then spreading. Not only can mould severely weaken the structural integrity of your roof, but it also poses a significant health risk to you and anyone else living in your home.

It can grow either on the exterior or the underside of your roof if the leaks have progressed to the point where water is actively collecting in one area. You can identify mould by looking for dark discolouration anywhere on your roof. Any problem areas that you do find will quickly begin to spread to the rest of your roof. If this problem is left unchecked, your roof will continue to rot as time goes on.

Not only is this bad for your roof, it can also cause respiratory illnesses for you and anyone else who spends time in your home. In this case calling in the professionals is your best option for assessing the damage and choosing the best solution going forward.

A leaky roof is a problem that has to be addressed at the earliest possible time in order to ensure the negative consequences are minimised and contained. More often than not you should be able to use your own common sense to determine whether your leaking roof is something you can fix yourself or something you’ll need professional assistance with.

Check for the common signs mentioned above and then go from there. Taking action right away will save you a whole lot of money and frustration, while delaying the process will only allow the leaks to worsen and, as a result, multiply your problems.