How Do You Repair A Leaky Roof?

 Daryl Gentry

 November 3, 2021

Two of the most frightening words a homeowner could ever hear are, "roof leak."

After hearing these words, most homeowners wish they could wake up from this nightmare they're having.

It's understandable because fixing a leak or replacing your entire roof can be a costly nightmare.

But this isn't something that should be avoided.

If your roof is leaking, you need to know where it's leaking and fix it fast before even more damage to your roof and the interior of your home occurs.

Some roof leaks and temporary repairs can be a simple DIY project, but if you have a major leak that requires a major roof repair, you may need to consult with an experienced local roof repair company.

In the article below, we will look at what you can do to repair a leaky roof.

How to Find Roof Leaks

No matter what type of roof you have, when looking for your leak, start by looking at the roof uphill from the stains.

The first thing you should take a look at is your roof penetrations.

Items that penetrate your roof are the most common sources of roof leaks.

It's pretty rare for a leak to develop in an open area of your roof, even on older roofs, unless something falls on it and damages your roof deck.

Roof penetrations are things like plumbing and roof vents, skylights, chimneys, dormers, or anything else that projects through your roof.

They can be several feet above the leak or to the right or left of it.

Skylights have a rubber seal around the skylight glass that can dry out and crack, making the skylight vulnerable to leaks.

If you notice that your skylight leaks, check for cracks or tears in the flashing around the top and sides of the skylight.

Sometimes misplaced roofing nails can be the cause of your leak, so keep an eye out for them as well.

If you have attic access, the easiest way to track down a leak is to go to your attic with a flashlight and look for evidence of a leak.

Look for signs of water damage like water stains, black marks, or mold.

If you can't get to your attic or have a vaulted ceiling, you'll have to go up onto the roof.  Just be careful, especially if you have an extreme roof slope.

Roof Leak Emergency

No matter what type of roof you have, roof leaks can always be an emergency.

Before fixing a leak, remember that you shouldn’t try to fix it while it is raining or there's other bad weather in your area.

In a pinch, you can make an emergency cover for your leaking roof from plastic sheeting and 2 by 4s.

First, unroll or unfold enough heavy polyethylene sheeting to cover the section of your roof that's leaking from eaves to the peak.

Then add about 4 feet of extra length and cut it with a utility knife.

Wrap one end around a 2x4 that is as long as the width of the plastic.

Staple the plastic along the 2x4 and sandwich it with a second 2 by 4.

Nail the boards together with three or four 3-inch or 3 1/4-inch common nails.

Now place the sandwiched end of the plastic along the eaves.

Stretch the sheeting from eaves to ridge and run it over the top of the ridge and down the other side a few feet.

Finally, sandwich the top end of the sheeting with another pair of 2x4's so the wind doesn’t take it away.

This is an ideal temporary solution for any type of roof, even complex roofs, until a professional roofer can make a permanent repair.

Fix a Leaking Roof From The Inside

If you can't get onto your roof or don't have the equipment to fix your roof leak from the outside, there are things you can do to fix the roof from the inside.

If you're able to discover the source of the leak in your roof, the easiest thing you can do to fix it is to patch it.

You'll need some plywood, extra shingles, and roofing tar.

You can use a putty knife to spread the roofing tar around the leak from the inside.

Then place the plywood or your roofing material on the tar and spread more around the edges of the patch to secure it in place.

Keep an eye on the leak you've repaired, especially after heavy rain, to ensure that they are holding up.

When you're able to, you can call your local roofer with experience repairing roof leaks so they can make sure the job is done right.

If you’re desperate and you need to stop the leak until your roofer comes, products like Flex Seal for roof leaks are an easy alternative option.

Fix Plumbing Vent Boots

Another source of roof leaks is your plumbing vent boots.

These can be all plastic, plastic and metal, or two-piece metal units.

Check the plastic bases of your vent boots for cracks or metal bases for broken seams.

Next, look at the rubber boot surrounding the pipe.

The rubber boot could be rotted away or torn, allowing water to make its way into your house along the vent pipe.

If you notice any of these problems, you need to buy a new vent boot and replace the old one.

If you notice that the roofing nails at the base are missing or pulled free and your boot looks good, replace them with the rubber-washered screws used for metal roofing systems.

You'll need to work the neighboring shingles free on both sides.

Without extra shingles, you need to be careful when you remove shingles so they can be reused.

Roof Flashing Repair

Another common roof leak repair is repairs done to your flashing.

If you must fix your flashing, you should pry up the nails used to secure it once you locate the source of the leak.

Again, move any shingles out of the way and be careful not to damage them if you don't have extra.

Replacing your flashing may mean removing several rows of singles and the old flashing.

Put the new flashing in place and fasten it with roofing nails using the pattern of your old piece.

You should also apply a coating of roofing sealant and quality caulk to the nail heads to make them even more weather resistant.

If the damaged flashing you have to replace is over a vent or pipe, you should replace the collar or boot as well.

Depending on how big a job it is, replacing your flashing and other barrier pieces can cost a few hundred dollars.

You may be tempted to reseal the existing flashing using caulking or roof cement, but this is a short-term fix that won't last nearly as long as replacing the flashing.

Only do this if you are planning on replacing the roof soon.

If the flashing around your chimney has minor damage you should be able to replace it as well, but if the chimney mortar is also deteriorating, you will probably want to hire a professional

How To Prevent Roof Leaks

The easiest way to keep from having to perform expensive and time-consuming roof repairs is to prevent roof leaks and extend the life of your roof.

One of the best things you can do to ensure the longevity of your roof is to hire a professional, and reputable roofing company for repairs that you can't or don't want to carry out yourself.

You should always keep your gutters clean and clear of debris, so water doesn't pool on your roof.

Even if you don't notice any leaks, you should also perform an annual inspection of your roof to check for structural issues and other signs of damage.

You also need to make sure your attic stays well insulated and ventilated.

Contact Your Local Roofers For Help

If you notice a roof leak or roof damage that may cause a leak, you need to get it fixed as soon as possible to prevent it from turning into a bigger problem.

Although it's possible to fix a leak yourself, leaks can be hard to find, and working on top of a roof can be difficult and dangerous.

Unless your roof’s pitch is low and you have the necessary experience, tools, and confidence to get the job done safely, you should leave this work to a roofing professional.

If you're ready to have your roof fixed and you don't want to do it yourself, it's time to look for local roof repair.

Finding quality roofers to work within your area will save you money because they will do the job right the first time.

The team at TK Roofing and Gutters has been fixing roof leaks in Ohio for years and has extended the lives of countless roofs.

They can fix any damaged areas you've noticed, and they'll check for other weak spots to prevent future leaks.

Contact TK Roofing and Gutters today for your free roofing estimate!

Get a Free Quote