The question “Should I see daylight in my attic?” is one NJ roofing contractors hear often, and because the answer is not a simply “yes” or “no,” we’d like to provide you with a primer that helps you better understand what to look for, why you might see patches of light, whether they’re normal, when to be concerned, and whether roof replacement is necessary.

Prepare to Inspect Your Roof

Even if you’ve already taken note of light streaming into your attic through areas of your roof, you should head back up there and have another look. Wait for a bright, sunny day, then climb or walk up into your attic. First, you’ll need to ensure you can properly inspect the entire underside of your roof, which can be tough if your attic has become a storage area for rarely used items. If needed, move boxes and other bulky items toward the center of your attic so you can see all areas of your roof, including the eaves (where the edges of your roof meet the walls of your home). Don’t pile those boxes too high though. Not only are they a safety hazard, they may also prevent you from determining whether too much light is entering through your roof’s ridge. Look around to ensure you can see the entire underside of your roof before turning the lights out.

Perform a Roof Inspection

Once the room is dark and your eyes have properly adjusted, you can do a proper roof inspection. When we’re asked, “Should I see daylight in my attic?” we tell our clients that they must first determine where the light is coming from. This is because it’s usually normal to see light coming in from your roof’s ridges, as well possibly some light from the eaves. The light entering your attic from these areas can be attributed to the vents that are installed under the eaves of your home (which you can see if you go outside, stand next to one of your home’s exterior walls, and look up) and the vent installed along the ridge of your roof. These openings are designed to promote proper airflow inside your attic, so it’s natural for some light to enter as well.

Do you have an attic exhaust fan installed in your roof? You might also see light come in through this piece of equipment, and this, too, is normal. All the vents discussed above are specially designed to encourage fresh air flow while also preventing pests and precipitation from entering, so you needn’t worry that water is getting in through these areas. However, you should look carefully at these vents as part of a complete and regular roof inspection.

Roofing Red Flags

Okay, now that we’ve talked about what’s normal, let’s talk about what’s not. When you perform an interior roof inspection, here are the red flags to watch out for. First, identify where your roof vents, pipe boots, and other equipment are installed. These might include chimneys, bathroom fan vents, stovepipes, plumbing, heating/air conditioning vents and equipment, electrical service entrances, solar collection pipes, and TV aerials. It is NOT normal to see daylight come in through these areas. When you see light come in through these areas, it means that water can also get in, so the problem needs to be addressed immediately. If you only see one or two patches of light, you may be able to repair or replace the flashing around these areas on your roof, which would prevent light (and water) from continuing to enter. It’s generally best (and safest) to hire a professional NJ roofing contractor to perform these repairs.

Checking the Decking

Now that you’ve carefully surveyed all the vents and other openings in your roof, it’s time to perform a roof inspection on the roof decking itself.  Roof decking is the “meat” made up of a sandwich of structural components (trusses & joints) on the inside and waterproofing layers (shingles & tar paper) on the outside. In the Northeast this is commonly made of plywood.

If you note areas in your roof decking through which daylight is streaming through, you’ve got a problem. There should never be holes in your roof decking, as they indicate a problem with both the shingles and the plywood sheathing. In these cases, seeing daylight in your attic requires immediate attention. As mentioned above, if light is getting in, water will get in as well. Seeing holes in your decking usually means it’s time for a roof replacement.

When You Need to Call in a Pro…

George J. Keller and Sons is Northern New Jersey’s premier home improvement contractor and is backed by over 35 years of experience. We’ve completed thousands of roofing replacements over the years. We’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with many of those clients again and again as they return for their window, siding, and solar needs. If you, too, are faced with questions like, “Should I see daylight in my attic?” and need a professional, honest assessment of your roof, give us a call today at 973-927-0963!