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Roof Leak Or A Plumbing Leak?

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

Leaks in your home are never good, but they can be especially problematic when they appear to be coming from above. Do you have a leak in your ceiling, or is it your plumbing?

You might think this would be relatively easy to distinguish. For example, if it’s not raining, it would be a safe bet that it’s not a leak, right? Well, kind of. If you are living in a particularly dry part of the world, or you haven’t had rain for a while, you can probably assume your leak is not coming from your roof. However, the construction of an average home is more complicated than many people appreciate, and that water could have pooled up somewhere and is only just now finding its way to somewhere you can see it.

Further complicating matters is the fact that a roof leak won’t necessarily show up above you! Water can sometimes find its way down wall cavities and other parts of the internal structure of your home, and the first time you see it might be a growing damp patch on a downstairs wall somewhere.

You may also think that a plumbing leak would be easy to identify because it would be a gushing torrent of water, but plumbing leaks typically take the form of a slow drip, getting gradually worse over time. In short, there is no immediate way to tell whether a leak is coming from your plumbing or your roof other than looking at the source of the leak, which isn’t always easy to find.

Roof Leak: Top 3 Causes

Broken or Missing Roof Shingles

Most residential properties use tiles or shingles on the roof to protect the property below from the rain. These are essentially a series of overlapping squares that allow the water to run straight over them and down to the drainage system. When a shingle or tile is missing or broken, that water can get into the property itself.

Ice Damming

For those of you in colder regions where ice can form, it is possible for water to freeze at the edges of your roof, creating a kind of dam that prevents water from running off.

That water then builds up, getting under the shingles. You can spot this, quite simply, by looking for an excessive build-up of ice around the edges of your roof.

Inadequate Roof Ventilation

A lack of proper roof ventilation can result in moisture build-up in the roof cavity, which can in turn begin to drip down into the rest of the building. This is caused by the moisture in the air inside your home condensing when it hits the cold roof. The more humid and the bigger the temperature difference between inside and out, the worse this problem will be.

Plumbing Leak: Top 3 Causes

Old Corroded Pipes

If the pipes in your home are very old, it is possible they have just outlived their usefulness. You will be able to spot this by first finding the offending pipe and noting that it is wet, most likely around a joint.

Water Pressure

High water pressure may make for an amazing shower, but the harder your water hits the inside of your pipes, the greater your risk of eventual leaks. You may have a water pressure problem if you are finding leaks in multiple fixtures throughout your home or if you notice leaks that only appear intermittently (like at night). Incorrect pressure can not only cause leaks, it can even cause pipes to burst in extreme cases.


While a clog may not seem like an urgent threat, some can lead to overflowing or even burst pipes. Pressure will build behind any blockage, potentially leading to structural damage depending on how serious the clog is. Plus, if the clog is mixed with corrosive substances like household chemicals, it can speed up the damage to your pipes.

How Leaks Affect Your Home

They get your walls and furniture and carpets wet, they can damage electrical appliances, and they can make constant dripping noises that drive you up the wall. But unwanted water in your home can have far worse consequences than being a mere nuisance.

Mold and Mildew

While mold and mildew are certainly unsightly, they also pose health and safety risks to the people living on the property from breathing in the spores that they produce. They also have a distinct smell that is, to be frank, unpleasant to live with.

Mold and mildew love damp places, and if you have patches of wall that are being slowly moistened by a leaking pipe or roof, it could provide the perfect spot for mold to take hold and start spreading through your home. The distinctive smell we mentioned is important because it could alert you to the presence of mold even when you can’t see it, such as when it starts growing behind a wall or somewhere else out of sight.

In Conclusion

As tempting as it might be to tackle a problem like this yourself, there is a good chance you will do more harm than good if you don’t know what you are doing. Even identifying the source of a plumbing leak can be a disruptive process if you don’t have the right tools for the job, and people who aren’t plumbers rarely have the right tools for the job.

Another important point about this kind of problem is that it should not be left alone. Even if the leak is relatively small, resist the temptation to just live with it for any length of time. The longer your home is subjected to a water leak, the more damage it will do. And it will not always be damage you will see immediately. In addition to the things we mentioned above, water can also accelerate the deterioration of wood and other structural materials in your home, therefore impacting the integrity as well the value of your property.

In short, if you notice the signs of a water leak—be it a roof or a plumbing leak—call APD Roofing at 833.766.3932 or visit our website at We can get you scheduled for a free inspection and handle your roofing needs.

"VERY professional, and timely. Communication with clients and with insurance company is exceptional! Workers are respectful, pleasant and knowledgeable about the scope of work assigned. Could have not chosen a better company to work with when I experienced roof issues and needed a roof replacement. Thank God for APD..."

Morgan Pressley | Houston Texas


Director of Operations

Lead Claims Consultant, IICRC Certified Technician

APD Roofing

April Cumbalon

Marketing Assistant/Office Manager

APD Roofing


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