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A Homeowner’s Guide to Patching a Leaky Roof

Image of tools that can be used for roof repairs and general home improvements by Newman Roofing Company in Central Ohio

If you’re like most homeowners, one problem you dread facing is a leaky roof. However, most small leaks don’t require a roofing contractor. It’s possible to learn how to patch your roof yourself and arm yourself with the tools and knowledge to do a good job. Read on to find out what you need to know.

Common Causes of Leaks

The first step to patching your roof is understanding what caused the leak in the first place. If you aren’t sure where your roof is leaking, look for these common problems that lead to leaks:

  • Weak or damaged flashing along roof edges
  • Damaged or cracked roof vents
  • Worn plumbing boot vents
  • Small holes or tears in shingles
  • Loose or missing shingles

If you’re having trouble locating the source of your leak, start in your attic and find where water is entering your home. Then, on the outside of your roof, move upward from the water entry point until you find the source of the leak. Remember that water can travel quite far underneath your shingles or flashing before it enters your home interior, so don’t be discouraged if the problem isn’t close to where you see the leak.

Patching Your Leak

The type of repair or patch you use to fix your roof will depend on the cause of the leak. Once you’ve determined what the problem is, you can move on to fixing it.

Fixing Damaged Flashing

Flashing damage is one of the most common causes of roof leaks. Fortunately it’s also one of the most straightforward repairs.

First, you’ll need to find exactly where the damaged flashing is. Look for rust, loose pieces of flashing, or gaps between the flashing and the wall.

Once you’ve located the source of the leak, you can either patch it with sealant (appropriate for very small holes and gaps) or with a new piece of flashing (for more extensive damage). To seal a hole, make sure you dust out the affected area with a stiff brush beforehand. Then, apply the sealant liberally to the leak and allow it to dry.

Replacing flashing is more involved but not complicated. You’ll need to pry up the shingles covering the flashing with a prybar, then pry up the damaged flashing as well. Replace the flashing with a new piece and seal the top edge in place. In some cases you may need to pry up your siding to seat the top edge of the flashing beneath it. Then replace the removed shingles with new ones and new roofing nails. Ensure all the pieces are securely in place before finishing.

Fixing Damaged Shingles

If your roof has shingles that are torn, missing, or damaged with small holes, you can generally fix them yourself. Below you’ll find a guide to repairing small, basic shingle leaks.

First, identify where the leak is. Look for signs of damage such as shingles with curling corners or tears, as well as excess grit on the roof or in your gutters. Shingle damage can be difficult to spot, so be patient and thorough.

Once you’ve located the damage, you can either patch it or replace the shingles. Shingle patches and sealants are only appropriate for very small holes – don’t try to seal a torn or missing shingle.

In most cases, however, you’ll need to replace shingles entirely. Pry them up using your prybar, being careful not to damage the underlayment below. Then, lift the bottom edge of the shingle above and slide the new shingle into place. Cut it to length and fasten it down with roofing nails hammered halfway in. Before hammering the nails in all the way, place a small amount of roofing sealant or cement over and around each nail head to ensure a leak-proof seal. Then finish the nails and press the top edge down over the new shingle.

Damaged Roof Vents and Plumbing Boot Vent

Along with damaged wall flashing, roof vents and boot vents are another very common cause of leaks. Fixing these leaks can be slightly more complicated depending on the exact problem.

In most cases the cause of leaks around roof vents is simple flashing damage. For these situations you can simply repair the flashing the same way as detailed above.

However, in some cases you may also need to replace damaged gaskets, seals, or even entire vent pieces. Make sure you examine all the parts of the vent carefully for damage, corrosion, and cracks. If you see any place where water could potentially enter, it’s best to replace the part entirely rather than risk further leaks. It’s also a good idea to use screws with rubber washers around the heads in place of nails fasten vents down. These screws are more leak-proof and are easier to remove and replace than roofing nails.

Other Problems

To be sure, patching your roof isn’t always as easy as the above cases. If you have more serious roof damage, or you simply don’t feel comfortable trying to fix your roof yourself, contact us today for a roof evaluation. We’ll work with you to get your leaky roof fixed fast and to protect your home and loved ones.

By |2017-01-24T21:26:29+00:00March 31st, 2016|Blog, Helpful Tips, How To, Info Article, Roofing, Tips|Comments Off on A Homeowner’s Guide to Patching a Leaky Roof

About the Author:

Tim Sistrunk writes for Newman Roofing , a Columbus, Ohio roofing company serving the roof repair and replacement needs of Central Ohio homeowners since 1992.