Temporary Roof Repair

A How-To guide on Temporarily Repairing a Roof

By Mark J. Donovan




So you had a heavy rain last night and you woke up to observe wet lines on your ceiling. How did it happen, and what do I do are usually the top two questions that come to homeowners’ minds when they see this situation. The answers to these questions are quite simple; rain entered in via the roof and temporary roof repair is immediately required.

Not surprising, a home is not self maintaining, and like everything else they wear out. Roofs in particular wear out, because they take the brute of the elements; cold, heat, direct ultraviolet sunlight, rain and wind.

When a roof leak happens it is important to at least perform some level of immediate temporary roof repair. However, do not start any roof repair until the bad weather has abated. And, if the roof has been somehow structurally damaged, call in the pros. Do not attempt to walk on a roof that has been partially caved in. Remember too that wet roofs can be slick. While you wait for the weather to improve, use buckets to collect the water, and move items that could be damaged (e.g. furniture, electronics).

If you have access to your attic, place the buckets in there. In addition, looking in your attic may help you better assess the source of the leak. The stain on your drywall ceiling may not be in a direct line with where the roof leak actually is occurring. Normally roof leaks start higher, e.g. the roof ridge vent.

Rain water travels along the trusses or roof rafters and finally works its way to a low spot in the attic, possibly 20 feet from where the rain water entered the house. The rain water then lands on the drywall ceiling and traverses the furring strips, causing the neat wet line on your ceiling.

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Checking and Temporarily Repairing a Roof

After the weather has improved and you can get up on the roof, there are a number of places to check on the roof, as wells as a number of things you can do, for performing temporary roof repair.

Check for Missing Shingles

Look for missing shingles or sections of roofing material on the roof. If shingles are missing, get some replacement ones. Slide the temporary replacement shingle(s) up under the existing shingles, sitting just above the missing shingle, for a temporary roof repair. Then call a roofing contractor to permanently replace the shingles.

Check the Ridge Vents

Check the ridge vent carefully. Frequently, with tin ridge vents the roofing nails that hold it down work loose in high wind storms. You may need to simply install new roofing nails into the ridge vent/cap. I also recommend sealing the roofing nails along the ridge vent/cap with roofing tar or a sealant.

Check for Standing Water

If you have a flat roof, make sure the scuppers are clean and that water can drain off the roof. Make sure any standing water is removed from the roof.

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Check Roof Flashing

Sometimes roof flashing can become damaged and allow water to get behind it. Make sure the roof flashing is lying tightly up against walls and chimneys. If it has pulled or twisted away push it back into position. You may want to use duct tape over it as a temporary roof repair.

Check for Membrane Leaks

If you have a membrane based roof covering, remove the ballast from around the leak area and see if there are any cuts or crack in the membrane liner. If there is a cut or crack in the membrane, use a plastic roof cement, sealant or roof tape, along with some spare membrane material to make a minor roof repair patch. Duct tape can also work in a pinch.

All of the above suggestions can help identify the source of the roof leak and serve as temporary roof repairs. However, after you have stabilized the situation, it is important to promptly call in a professional roofing contractor and have them fully inspect and permanently repair your roof. Also, if your roof is insured call the installers or manufacturers of it to have them make the permanent roof repairs.


For more help on Shingling Your Home’s Roof, see HomeAdditionPlus.com’s Asphalt Shingle Roofing Bid Sheet. The Asphalt Shingle Roofing Bid Sheet will help to ensure that your roof won’t end up with a blue tarp over it and a dumpster sitting in your yard for weeks as you wait for the roofing contractor to come back and finish roofing your home.

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