The annoying thing about roof leaks is that you seldom know they exist until a torrential downpour sends rivulets of water into your home. If you wake up to a small stream in your bathroom or the pitter-patter of raindrops in the kitchen, you probably already know you need to call the roofer. But, sometimes roofs spring leaks when the roofer isn't available - usually on holiday weekends or the middle of the night. That means you need to know how to make emergency repairs until the roofer can get to your home.
Sometimes, the only things you will observe are tiny droplets of water dripping inside around windows or along the ceiling. While they can do damage to your home over time, these leaks can usually be handled with a bucket or old towel to catch the drops. Unless you are expecting prolonged rainy weather, cleaning up the mess and calling the roofer may be all that is needed on your part.
Large or multiple leaks indicate a more serious problem that needs your attention right away. You'll want to put out buckets to catch the leaks, of course, but you will also need to assess the cause of the leak and take quick corrective action. There are several ways to make emergency roof repairs to prevent water damage until your roofer can get to your home.
- Loose or Missing Shingles
Rain and the wind can damage or loosen shingles allowing water to seep inside your home. When this happens, you will need to replace or repair the shingles. For a quick emergency fix, you will need a piece of aluminum flashing and two roofing nails.
1. Tuck the aluminum flashing under the shingle above the damaged one.
2. Secure the bottom of the flashing with two roofing nails.
3. Check that the sheet of flashing is secure and covers all the damaged areas.
4. Call your roofing contractor, or make plans to replace the damaged shingle as soon as the rain stops.
- Leaks Around Flashing
Sometimes the cause of your leak is breaks in the waterproof sealant around the flashing on vents or chimneys.
1. Wipe down the area with a dry cloth to remove excess moisture and other debris.
2. Apply a bead of waterproof sealant to the seams in the flashing and work your way around the edge.
3. Check that all areas are sealed properly.
- Major Damage
Sometimes the cause of your leak is more widespread or can't be located. This calls for more serious emergency repairs. While these instructions call for plastic sheeting, you can substitute a tarp if you choose.
1. Cut a piece of 6-mil polyethylene sheeting large enough to cover your roof from the peak to the eaves, plus four feet.
2. Wrap one end of the plastic around a 2x4 and secure it with staples.
3. Place a second 2x4 on top of the first, so that the plastic is between the two 2x4s.
4. Nail the two 2x4s together.
5. Place the 2x4s along the eaves of the roof.
6. Cover the roof from the eaves to the peak with the plastic.
7. Wrap the end of the plastic (at the peak) around a 2x4 and follow the procedure for securing the plastic between two 2x4s.
8. Place the 2x4s so that the plastic drapes over the peak of the roof and extends down the opposite slope.
Emergency roof repairs are not meant to be a permanent solution to your problems. Call your local roofing contractor right away and make an appointment for a professional roof repair. Roofing contractors are trained to spot underlying problems and can make the necessary repairs to keep your problems from coming back in the future.