Repairing a Roof Leak

Minor leaks can be fixed without the help of a roofing professional. The following steps will teach you to identify problems and make repairs for flat roofs, shingles and wooden shingle roofs. If you want to work on your roof, you must do it on a day when the roof is dry to prevent accidents.

Fix the tiles

Check that there is no damage to the roof material, directly above where the drip is coming from. This is probably easier to find on a flat roof, but leaks can enter the roof of the house at a good distance from where the roof damage actually is.

  • If your roof is slanted, inspect the areas on the roof that are higher than where the leak enters your house.
  • If you have an attic, inspect it with a flashlight to look for water spots, black spots and mold.
  • Use a hose to run water on different sections of the roof and ask someone inside the house to notify you when you see a leak.

Look for damaged, bent or missing tiles near where the leak comes from. Also look closely for exposed roof tacks.

Straighten folded back tiles. In cold climates, you may have to soften the edges of the tile with heat, with an electric hair dryer. Using a torch or other items with open flame is not recommended, as asphalt shingles can be flammable, and regardless of the weather or whether they are fire resistant or not, excess heat will ruin the shingles.

Rearrange the tiles that were folded backwards after straightening them. Do this with a generous amount of cement for asphalt or composite roofs around the exposed edges.

Replace damaged tiles. If the tile is removed from the roof without much effort, breaks or simply falls apart, you have to change it.

  • Remove the tile by lifting the edges and check the nail.
  • Scrape the area below the tile to remove any remaining roofing cement.
  • Use a sharp blade to smoothly round the back ends of the new tile.
  • Slide the new tile into place and hammer a 1¼ inch galvanized roof nail in each top corner. Then cover the head of the nails with roofing cement.

Roofing roll for roofing

Look for cracks or bubbles in the roof material.

Restore the bubble. Cut a line in the middle of the bubble with a blade, but do not cut the roof felt (substrate) underneath.

  • Squeeze or absorb any liquid that is inside the bubble. The area needs to be completely dry.
  • Use a generous amount of roofing cement under the loose roofing material and press it.
  • Place galvanized roofing nails on each side of the repaired bubble.
  • Cover the entire top with roofing cement, including the nail heads.

Damaged wooden tiles

Divide the damaged wooden tiles with a hammer and chisel.

Slide the chisel under the damaged tile and remove the pieces.

Use a saw to cut the ends of any nail that cannot be removed. Work around the nails if you cannot cut them without damaging the good shingles.

Cut a tile approximately 9.5 mm (3/8 inch) smaller than the old tile using a fine tooth saw.

Slide the new tile into place and hammer it with 2 galvanized roofing nails.

  • If the old nails that you could not remove are in the step, use a hacksaw to make a cut on the tile so that it fits properly around the nails.

Place the tiles with a set of nails, then seal them with putty.

Connections

Inspect the areas where the surfaces connect, such as the chimney or vent pipes.

  • Look for damage to the putty and reapply putty where necessary.
  • Remove the damaged or deteriorated putty so that the new application can stick with the roof or the exposed surface.
  • Use a spatula to remove the old, loose putty.
  • Clean and dry the area.
  • Cut the end of the tube from the putty and spread it on the same line, applying it to the crack with an applicator. Let it dry.

Larger repairs will be necessary if there is damage to the exposed surface, around the chimney or at the base around the ventilation pipes, as they may have to be changed completely.

Tips

  • Use a piece of replacement aluminum or copper foil for an emergency.
  • The sealant must be compatible with the roofing material and be completely waterproof. Polyurethane or silicone putty usually gives durable waterproofing results. Putty or latex sealants, synthetic plastic is not recommended.
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