You see that you have water leaking into your house from the outside. Don’t panic, this can often happen after heavy rains or from a backed-up gutter system.

Dealing with a water leak quickly is important to prevent any further damage to your home. In this step-by-step guide, I the great Sheleak Holmes, will advise you on what you should do if you notice water coming in from outside your home.

Assess Where The Water is Coming From

The first step is to try to locate exactly where the water is entering your home. Is it coming in through a window, under a door, or seeping in through the walls or ceiling?

Try to visually inspect the exterior of your home during the rain to see if you can spot the leak. Check areas like window frames, the foundation, and spots where two materials meet, like brick and wood siding.

If it’s not raining currently, look for signs of water damage or moisture inside to get clues on the source. Knowing where the leak is originating from will help determine the best repair approach.

Contain the Water

Once you’ve found the leak’s point of entry, it’s important to contain the water to prevent further damage.

Place buckets or pans under dripping areas to catch the water. Move any furniture or belongings away that may get water damage. You can use towels or rags to soak up small amounts of water pooling on floors.

For larger amounts, consider using sandbags to divert water away from the house. If the leak is coming in through the walls or ceiling, locate the wall studs and poke small drainage holes at floor level so the water has somewhere to drain out. Cut holes in water-damaged drywall or plaster if needed to let it drain. The key is limiting water spread while you work on the repair.

Check for Structural Damage

Examine surfaces near the leak closely for any signs of structural damage or mold growth. Look for cracked or bubbling paint, rotting wood, warped surfaces, mold or mildew odors, and moisture contained in the wall cavity.

If you have access to the wall studs from the drainage holes you poked, inspect them with a flashlight for water damage. If you detect any damage or hidden moisture in walls, address this immediately to prevent future expensive repairs. You may need to consult a contractor if there is damage to the home’s structure.

Locate the Source of the Leak Outside

Now comes the fun part – it’s time to play detective and inspect the exterior of your home to locate the root cause of the leak. Start by thoroughly checking areas directly around where you know the water is entering inside. Examine the exterior wall, window frames, flashing, and caulking for gaps or cracks. Inspect the foundation and look for cracks or holes, focusing especially on the mortar between bricks or stones. Check the ground slope around your home to make sure it pitches away from the house to prevent pooling.

Also carefully examine roof features like shingles, flashing, drip edge, and valleys for missing or damaged sections that could be causing leaks. Check the gutters and downspouts for any blockages or areas holding standing water. The source of the leak could also be something like a cracked pipe or overflowing rain collection barrel, so inspect these items too. Don’t neglect to check for something simple like a loose connection on your garden hose. Take your time and don’t skip over any crack or hole where water could enter.

Make the Needed Repairs

Once you’ve located the source of the water leak from the exterior inspection, it’s time to make repairs.

For smaller holes and cracks, a waterproof sealant or caulking may be all that’s needed. Clean the area thoroughly and apply a flexible sealant labeled for exterior use.

For roof or flashing leaks, repairs often involve replacing any damaged shingles, resealing seams, and re-securing any loose flashing.

Downspout and gutter issues can usually be fixed by clearing any debris and reattaching or replacing damaged parts.

More significant foundation cracks may require specialized injection sealing or even structural reinforcement.

If the leak requires extensive repairs beyond simple caulking or patching, it may be worth consulting a professional to ensure proper fixing and prevent future recurrence.

Let it Dry Out

The last step is letting everything dry thoroughly over several days once the leaks have been addressed. Keep dehumidifiers running and open windows to encourage air circulation. Continue using fans directed at any wet spots on walls and ceilings. It’s important surfaces are completely dry to avoid mold growth. Don’t replace insulation or drywall until moisture readings are back to normal indoor levels. Protect recently dried areas from additional leaks with tarps or plastic sheeting until permanent exterior repairs can be made. Avoid using any water-damaged areas until completely dry to prevent electrical hazards or further deterioration. With time and drying, your home will be back to normal!


Dealing with an exterior water leak can seem like an emergency, but following these steps carefully will help you assess, stop, and fix the problem.

The key things to remember are: identify the source, contain the water immediately, check for hidden damage, thoroughly inspect the exterior (and roof), make proper repairs to keep water out and allow adequate drying time.

With some diligent sleuthing and prompt action, you can solve a leak crisis and prevent it from escalating into major home damage.

Stay calm and tackle the leak systematically. And next time a big storm hits, go check your home exterior afterward to make sure everything is still watertight!

With proper maintenance and occasional vigilance, you can avoid finding new leaks the hard way in the future.