Temporary Fixes for a Leaking Roof
If you notice wet spots on your ceiling, find a shingle in your yard or hear the dreaded dripping of water in your home, you probably have a roof leak. Roof leaks typically lead to many other problems in your home, and it can be challenging to know what to do when your roof starts leaking. Luckily, there are multiple temporary solutions. Take matters into your own hands until professionals arrive and learn the most common types and causes of roof leaks, why you need to stop the leaks and how to temporarily repair a leaking roof.
Types of Roof Leaks
There isn’t one singular cause when it comes to a leaking roof, which can make pinpointing the leak all the more challenging. Before you can fix your roof leak, consider the following most common types of roof leaks and how they can affect your roof.
1. Clogged Gutters
Debris can build up in your gutters if they haven’t been cleaned out. Clogged gutters keep water from draining normally, causing a leak. Try to keep your gutters clean and keep trees trimmed near your roof, or contact a professional to clean your gutters.
2. Vent Boots
Vent boots work to keep water out of the area where the roof vent pipes join the roof. They are usually made from plastic, metal or rubber and could be a combination of the materials. If you suspect a leak, look for cracks on plastic vent boots and any broken seams on metal vent boots. Be sure to check out the rubber boot around the pipe as well, as it could be rotting or torn and letting water in. If you have a leaking vent boot, you’ll likely need to replace it. Just take off the old vent boot with a knife and install a new one.
Flashing is metal strips around the edges or joints of your roof that are prone to leaking. Flashing works to protect your roof from water and is probably around your chimney, too. If these metal strips rust or crack, they could let water in and cause leaks. Until a professional can fix it, you could use caulking and roof cement temporarily.
Skylights could result in leaks if they aren’t fitted or put in properly. Your skylight could also be leaking due to cracked flashing or damaged surrounding shingles. You might be able to use roofing cement and caulking as a temporary fix for a leaking skylight but will still need a professional to repair or replace it and install new surrounding flashing or shingles.
The mortar between the bricks on your chimney can weaken and crumble, letting water in. Chimneys also have four different types of flashing, and even if one has issues, it could result in a leak. A tiny crack above the flashing is enough for water to get through, so it’s essential to keep an eye out. If you think your chimney is leaking, look at the joints where the chimney joins the roof or the mud caps. You can typically fix a chimney leak temporarily with patches.
Some other popular roof leak locations and causes include:
- Old or missing shingles
- Holes in the roof
- Nails that are in the wrong spot
- Excess moisture
- Shallow roof slope
- Complex roofs
Why It’s Important to Stop a Leak
A leaky roof isn’t just an inconvenience. If left untreated, water can infiltrate your home and cause a series of other problems, from mold to a more expensive energy bill. Plus, puddles of water around your home could result in slipping and falling, which could be extremely dangerous for young children or elderly residents in the house. Consider the following consequences of a roof leak and seek professional roofing services immediately if you haven’t already.
1. Mold and Mildew
When moisture can’t find a way out, it’s the perfect recipe for mold and mildew to form. So, if the water is stuck inside your walls or underneath your floors, bacteria can grow and weaken your home’s framework. If you suspect mold in your home following a leaking roof, look for dark spots as they are often the first sign. Mold and mildew can also have a severe impact on your health, especially if you have asthma or nasal congestion, for example.
2. Electrical Problems
Something as small as a leak can also lead to serious electrical problems, which could damage your circuit box or the actual wiring itself. Any copper wires or electrical boxes in contact with water could deteriorate and short out. This could also lead to much more hazardous conditions and damage, such as a fire. Any electrical wires that short out run the risk of potentially causing a fire.
3. Discolored, Rotting Wood
Water coming from a leaking roof can also bring other residues with it and turn your wood a darker color, resulting in discoloration on walls, ceilings, rafters and beams. The beams, joists and other structural components will also start to rot over time as water continues to leak, so you must work to stop the leak immediately, even if it’s only a temporary repair.
4. Deteriorating Drywall
When water comes in contact with drywall, it might initially absorb into the wall. However, it will eventually saturate and cause expansion and deterioration. If you have walls made with drywall, your leaking roof could cause the walls to break apart, while ceilings made from drywall run the risk of collapsing altogether.
5. Higher Energy Bills
Since water from a compromised roof can reach your attic insulation and cause damage, repeated saturation can eventually cause your insulation to deteriorate. Once your insulation is ruined, you’re wasting energy and will probably spend more money on your heating and cooling bills than you would if you had professionals fix your roof.
Ways to Temporarily Stop a Roofing Leak While Waiting for Repair
Knowing all of the potential problems a leaky roof can cause, you must take action to prevent potentially thousands of dollars worth of damage to your home. However, professional roofers may not be available right away, so you must look for some temporary repairs. Even if you have never repaired a roof before, various temporary solutions are simple but efficient enough to hold you over until a professional arrives. Here’s how to make a temporary emergency roof repair and decrease any further damage.
For any holes in the roof, you could use plastic sheeting. You’ll want to use sheets of sturdy plastic if possible, and fasten them to your roof using roofing nails, or weigh them down with bricks or other heavy objects. You could even nail down plastic sheets with wood strips and secure them with duct tape for smaller holes.
Heavy waterproof tarps are an excellent temporary method to fix more substantial areas of a leaking roof, and one of the easiest, too. Just make sure you get a tarp that covers the entire area of the leaking roof and one that can be used outside. Smooth the tarp out once it’s tightly over the area on the roof and then nail down edges, tie it down, or use duct tape to keep it secure so that it won’t blow away in a storm. If you have significant amounts of water coming into your home, consider layering the tarps for extra protection.
3. Tar Paper and Roof Felt
If you have plastic roofing cement, you can use it to help apply tar paper to your roof and spread it out with a trowel, putty knife or caulk gun. Plastic roofing cement is available at most hardware stores and is a great tool to fix cracks or small holes in roofs, keeping water from getting in. You could apply multiple layers and alternate between the tar paper and plastic cement. Roofing felt also acts as an extra layer of protection between your shingles and roof decking and can help keep water out.
4. Plugging or Patching
You could also consider plugging the leak, which is one of the best ways to temporarily fix a flat roof leak. To plug the leak, mix up water and a powder similar to cement and pour it in the opening. This mixture will dry solid and stop any more water from getting in, but it’s only useful for a limited time, so you’ll likely have to repeat this process if roofers can’t come out for some time.
In other cases, patching the leak would also work. You could apply roofing tape from inside your attic or the top floor of your home if you use a ladder, which can be a faster, more desirable option than getting on your roof to put down a tarp. Just put it on the inside of the roof decking to help keep water out. Sometimes this method only works to limit water flow rather than preventing any from entering, so it might not be the best option for significant leaks. Other adhesive patches are available for small leaks but are not to be applied at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so you’ll need to opt for a different solution during colder months.
5. Makeshift Shingles
If you’re missing any roof shingles, you might want to create your own using copper or sheet metal to fix the leak. Just cut the metal in the shape and size of your shingles to replace the damaged ones. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect — it’s a temporary fix and will at least limit the water flow into your home until professionals arrive.
Get Help for Your Leaking Roof and Contact the Exterior Company Today
Although there are plenty of solutions when it comes to fixing a leaky roof, none are as effective as calling the experts at the Exterior Company for professional residential roofing and repairs. While some leaks may be minor, others can threaten structural damage to numerous parts of your home. Trust the Exterior Company, named the largest residential roofing company in Pennsylvania, to repair your leaking roof. With unmatched customer service and a list of credentials to showcase our skills, we know how important it is to deliver prompt work without sacrificing the quality of our services. If you’re in the Lancaster or surrounding areas, see what the Exterior Company can do for you. Contact us today for a free estimate and move one step closer to living leak-free.