Roof Leak Repair Tips For Finding And Fixing Your Leaky Roof

June 3rd, 2021 BY First American Roofing

If you’re a homeowner and you’ve ever looked up at your ceiling and found water damage, you know the horror that is realizing you most likely have a roof leak.

As homeowners, we often find great pride in caring for and maintaining our home, so that makes a leaking roof all that more despairing as it usually occurs outside of our control. Despite the disappointment, this is an issue that can’t be neglected. But don’t worry, we’re here to walk you through how to get your roof leak repaired.

While repairing or replacing the whole roof should be left to the pros, when your roof is in need of prompt roof leak repair, there are some temporary fixes that you can do yourself to help buy some time and prevent further damage from occurring. And if you’re a frequent DIYer with the right roofing tool collection, we’ve put a brief guide together on what to do about a roof leak.

Here are our best tips!

How Do You Spot a Roof Leak?

Close up view of roof in the rain in need of roof leak repair

Several signs can indicate a roof leak, and you want to know what to look for so you can catch it early. 5 main signs can indicate you may need a roof leak repair:

1. Spots on the Ceiling

If you notice spots on your upper floor ceilings or the floor beneath the attic, it’s a good indication that water has leaked through your roof and saturated through the attic floor onto your ceiling. This needs to be addressed immediately because the longer water sits, the more chance mold and mildew have to grow. And mold in the walls and ceiling are hazardous for your health if breathed in, plus to repair it, you must completely remove and replace those sections of wall or ceiling. The longer you wait, the more you can expect to spend on roof leak repairs.

2. Missing Shingles

Loose shingles ready to tear off of roof - close up view

You should be able to tell that you have missing shingles without having to get up on the roof. It’ll be fairly obvious that a shingle is missing when you see a gap in the rows of shingles on your roof. If it’s tough to see, you can definitely get up on a ladder to take a peek without actually getting up on the roof.

Strong winds and storms can easily blow off shingles if you have an aging roof or it was previously damaged or installed poorly. A gust of wind can easily lift a shingle that’s been loosened prior and blow it off. Without a shingle adding protection, even that tiny section of your roof makes it immediately susceptible to leaks.

3. Damaged or Cracked Shingles

A shingle doesn’t need to be completely missing for your underlayment to be immediately at risk of a roof leak. Shingles can get cracked or damaged by hail, debris, and even strong winds. Even a small crack in a shingle can slowly allow water to seep through and wreak havoc on your roof. That slow leak will eventually lead to spots on the ceiling or more damage. You can spot damaged or cracked shingles by unevenness in the roof or a change in texture or color on the shingle itself.

4. Damaged Flashing or Boot Covers

Your shingles aren’t your roof’s only defense against leaks. Flashing is almost more important to ensure no leaks penetrate your roof. Flashing seals all of the spots where the roof meets a wall, chimney, or other seams. If any flashing or vent covers get damaged, that seam is highly vulnerable to leaks that can allow water to flow down into your interior walls and the attic.

5. Water Spots on the Attic Floor

roof leak repair water in attic

If you suspect you have a leak, one way to check is to go into your attic with a flashlight and see if you find any water spots on the attic floor. This would mean the water is leaking through but hasn’t penetrated to the ceilings yet.

The best time to check for roof leaks is immediately after a rainstorm. When or if it is safe to do so, climb up to the attic and take a quick look around on both the attic ceiling and floor. The attic can often be the source of a roof leak, and it’s crucial not to ignore what seems like a “small leak” as it can lead to deeper and more extreme damage to your roof’s foundation.

How to Repair a Roof Leak

1. Get a Roof Inspection

This is an obvious step, but the most crucial. Whether you’re up to the task of climbing up onto your roof or are have a go-to roofer at your disposal, a leaking roof means it’s time for a thorough roof inspection.

We’ve already discussed the most likely spots to spring a leak, so we’ll keep this brief by just highlighting the benefits of performing a full-scale inspection of your roof. Mostly, that it will ensure you don’t miss any problem areas.

Keep an eye out for any tears, cracks, or bubbling on your roof shingles; rust, erosion, or denting on your roof’s flashing; and any holes, sagging, or buckling as a whole that may require an emergency roof tarping until the damage can be repaired.

Whatever the cause of the original damage, a roof leak is no joke and can water-log your roof deck or insulation and produce structural damage to your home’s foundation.

2. Remove the Damaged Materials

Close up view of roofing contractor using pry bar to removed damaged roof shingles

Maybe you’re already missing shingles on your roof. Maybe part of the flashing is gone.

Or maybe your roofing materials are more in the punctured, cracked, and crumbling zone. If that’s the case, utilize tools such as a shingle shovel, roofing hammer, and safety equipment outlined here.

What you’ll want to focus on is maintaining the integrity of your roof deck and sheathing and not to cause any further damages. Once the shingles, flashing, or other damaged materials are removed, you can get to patching your roof leak.

3. Replace the Damaged Materials

If your roof’s underlayment has been compromised, you’ll have to seal and install an extra sheet of that, but if it isn’t, you can get right to replacing the roof shingles.

Nail each shingle in place using roofing nails, driving the nails through the designated nail line on the shingle. Space the nails according to the manufacturer’s instructions, usually around 6 to 8 inches apart. When necessary, you’ll want to cut the shingles so that they fit around roof penetrations, such as vents or chimneys, using a utility knife or roofing shears — and make sure to ensure a snug fit and proper sealing around these areas.

4. Sealing the Leak

Once you’ve completed the necessary repairs, consider applying a coat of roof sealant over the repaired area for added protection. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding application and drying times. Finish off with caulk around the edges, and ensure the shingles overlay securely.

If your leaks occur near ceiling light fixtures or the interior of your roof vents, again, caulk and spray insulation can help seal the area until you get the entire thing replaced.

roof leak repair caulking roof

Emergency Roof Leak Repair – When to Call the Pros

If your roof is nearing its lifespan or has suffered damage due to hail or another strong storm, it’s vital to get your roof repaired by a professional. They can see things the amateur homeowner cannot, and they will also repair it in a way that prevents future damage and leaks.

We love when homeowners have the ability to make minor repairs to buy them some time until we get there. But we always recommend calling a professional for all roof repairs, especially in the event of a roof leak. Roof leaks can cause much more severe damage in your home if they’re left unattended.

So for all of your roof leak repair, general repairs and replacement needs, contact First American Roofing today!