a person fixing a roof shingle

Basics of roof leak repair

Household 3 min read

You work hard to keep a roof over your head, and a roof leak can jeopardize that. A small leak can quickly become a big problem, causing roof and water damage at once. Fortunately, it can usually be solved if you know how to repair a hole in the roof or hire a professional roofer in your area. Of course the first step, is to locate the leak, which can be surprisingly difficult.

Finding a roof leak

A water spot on the ceiling is often the first telltale sign of a roof leak. However, the water could then spread in and around your home. Finding roof leaks isn’t always as easy as watching water drip. They can be challenging to trace because the leak may be several feet away from where it originated on the roof. Water can run down the roof several feet before you notice it inside the house.

Finding a roof leak may require you to make your way to the attic so you can inspect the roof in its entirety and work backward from there. Rain can help you find a roof leak quickly, but you run the risk of further damage if you wait for rain.

DIY roof repair

If you’re up for finding a roof leak, you might be able to fix it as well. Erik Nilsson, the founder of Rentola, offers the following steps for DIY roof repair. Nilsson also offers some helpful tips to fix a leaky roof from the outside. Perhaps most importantly, Nilsson reminds DIY roof repairers to wear rubber shoes and a harness to prevent slipping.

  • Locate the leak
  • Examine all the vents. If damaged, replace and remove them
  • Remove any old shingles and roofing paper
  • Mark the damaged section of the roof
  • Cut this section using a blade and remove it with a pry bar
  • Mark the dimensions of the new roof deck and attach it using nails
  • Lay the underlayment and then attach new shingles
  • Use silicone or caulk to stop the leak caused by metal flashing
  • Generously apply cement to the underside of the shingles to secure all the edges and corners
  • Remember to check for water stains on the roof or shingles, as these are signs of a leaking roof

Professional roof leak repair

Volodymyr Barabakh, co-founder and project director of building contractor Structural Beam, encourages homeowners and renters to call a professional sooner rather than later. “They will have the expertise to address the problem correctly and minimize the need for further repairs,” he says. “Attempting to solve the issue with a DIY job will take much longer and risks further issues or the leak returning if not done correctly.”

Rather than tools and a ladder, Barabakh’s recommendations focus on assessing the situation and keeping the surrounding area dry for the time being.

Basic roof maintenance

Barabakh also points to prevention to avoid the need for roof leak repair. “The risk of leaks can be minimized through proper gutter and roof maintenance,” he says. “This includes removing overhanging branches that may cause more concentrated rainfall in specific areas and checking the roof regularly for any compromised shingles.”

In the fall, it’s essential to keep up with roof maintenance. Leaves can clog gutters and lead to roof leaks. Fall roof maintenance also helps to winterize your home. A well-winterized and insulated home helps keep pipes from freezing and bursting, a common winter nightmare that leads to many insurance claims each year. Learn more about how to winterize your home to avoid roof leaks and other damage to your roof.

While you’re learning about the importance of keeping up with roof maintenance, find out whether homeowners insurance covers damage to siding. Also, it’s important to know what are perils and hazards.

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