As your home ages, you may find moisture seeping indoors from time to time. Leaks in your roof can cause water to run inside your home and down the walls. A homeowner who can see water running from his smoke detectors most likely has roof leak that can damage the home's structure. Water leaks are also a common cause of mold growth indoors.

Smoke detector
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Water leaking from your smoke detector indicates a water leak in your home.

Causes

Leaking roofs are often caused by storm damage. During a storm, shingles may be pulled from your roof, allowing water to leak inside your home. Water leaks are also common around chimneys. If the flashing around your chimney is loose or defective, water can begin to leak inside your home and seep down your walls. Ice dams during the winter can cause structural damage to your roof and cause water to run down the wall behind your smoke detector.

Effects

When water is leaking inside you home, it can damage the drywall. Excess moisture can cause yellow or brown water stains on your walls and ceilings. Eventually, mold may begin to grow because mold spores thrive in wet areas. Once moisture is present, mold can begin to grow in as little as 24 to 48 hours. Mold growth can cause serious health problems for those living inside the home. Many people experience sneezing, itching eyes, rashes on the skin and wheezing from mold exposure. Mold will eventually cause damage to your walls, making repairs necessary.

Diagnosis

Inspect your roof for damaged or missing shingles that can allow water to run inside your home. Look around your chimney for loose flashing or large chunks of missing furnace cement, which is a common cause of roof leaks. If you live in a cold climate where snowfall occurs during the winter, be sure you have adequate ventilation inside your attic to prevent ice dams from forming.

Solution

Repair any areas on your roof that are damaged and causing water leaks. Replace any missing or damaged shingles. Add new furnace cement to any areas around your chimney that have missing or crumbling cement. Defective or loose flashing is best replaced by a roofing contractor.