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Condensation or Leaky Roof? How to Tell the Difference

Have you noticed a water stain on your ceiling but cannot figure out where it came from? Or perhaps your bathroom vent is suddenly dripping water? Maybe you just reshingled your roof, but for some reason, you discover a leak in your attic. And, what’s more, does the leak gets worse as the outside temperatures drop? While you may think it is due to a roof leak the culprit may actually be condensation. How can you tell if it is condensation or a leaky roof? Here are the signs and the main differences.

When is it condensation?

Condensation occurs because there is excess moisture from inside your home. As the heat rises, the moisture builds and collects in the attic airspace. The air eventually cools and condensates. Some causes of excess moisture within your home can include:

  • Fireplaces
  • Portable Space Heaters
  • Hot Showers and Baths
  • Cooking
  • Saunas, hot tubs or jacuzzis
  • Washers and Dyers
  • Humidifiers (both furnace mounted and free-standing models)

What are some other issues related to excess condensation?

Sometimes homes with roof ice dams will also have problems with condensation. An ice dam occurs when hot air gets trapped in the attic. The roof gets heated from the inside causing snow and ice to melt and refreeze continually. The water runs down the roof and collects along the cool edges and refreezes, resulting in snowdrifts, or icicles. This all often happens under the shingles causing damage to shingles, underlayment and roof decking.

How do I know if there is condensation in my attic?

Unfortunately, these issues often go unnoticed for months until the insulation is no longer capable of holding any more moisture.
However, you can head up to your attic and look for the following signs:

  • Indentions in insulation below the roof vents.
  • Dimples in the insulation.
  • Your insulation looks as though it has been “rained on.”
  • Signs of frost on the underside of your roof deck inside the attic in winter.

Where else may I see signs of condensation?

If there is excess condensation present in your home it may appear in unlikely places such as around light fixtures. You may also see moisture collecting in and around bathroom and kitchen vents or chimneys. Skylights may also present an issue in that they are susceptible to moisture. This is because of their direct exposure to a combination of sunlight and exterior air. These conditions may cause the skylight to be significantly colder than other windows and prone to condensation.

How can I prevent condensation in my home?

Your best bet at tackling excessive condensation: ventilation and proper insulation. Make sure always to run the bathroom fan when showering. This applies to cooking as well; use your hood fans, on high every time you cook. Don’t have ventilation fans in the bathroom or kitchen? There are great low-priced options that could make a huge difference. Or, consider cracking a window an inch or two while showering or cooking. Also, make sure to check the insulation in your attic. Most folks mistakenly believe the more, the better. Not true. Too much insulation could actually be the culprit behind those harmful ice dams.

Still have questions about whether you are experiencing condensation or a leaky roof? Contact The Roof Guy. We offer free roof inspections. Should we detect an issue, our team will perform a complete evaluation and provide the very best, and honest solution. Trust The Roof Guy.