Emergency Roof Leak Repair: Temporary Solutions for a Leaking Roof

tiled roof with tarp over it

Roof leaks happen throughout the course of the year, and sometimes develop when it’s not possible to have it immediately repaired by a professional. If you can’t have a professional contractor repair the leak in a timely manner, attempt these temporary repairs to steam the tide of possible problems.

Perhaps the weather is bad, it’s too cold to get on the roof, or you don’t have the money set aside yet. However, you can’t leave a leaking roof alone. Not repairing a leak invites rain, mold, and other forms of structural damage.

While a temporary repair is oftentimes not ideal, it's better than leaving your roof and home exposed to the elements.

IMPORTANT: Repairing a roof -- particularly in adverse weather conditions -- can be a dangerous job and should only be attempted by someone with roofing experience. Property safety measures should always be practiced to avoid during a bad situation (roof leak) into an even worse situation, such as further damaging the roof, injury, or even death.

Use a tarp

If you have a general idea of the source of the leak, use a plastic tarp to make a quick solution.

1. Stretch the tarp out over the roof so that it covers the leaking area, until it’s taut. Drive nails into the edges to hold it tightly in place.

2. If you have roof cement, apply a small drop to the tops of each nail head to prevent new leaks from forming.

While using a tarp is not the most attractive solution, this temporary action will help keep rain out long enough until a contractor can perform a proper repair.

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Straighten out curled shingles

If you suspect that a few curling shingles are the source of your roof leak, you can attempt to straighten and flatten them out.

Shingles may be curling because they’re at the end of their lifespan, and if this is the case, attempting to straighten old shingles is a temporary solution at best.

However, if your roof is fairly new, straightening shingles is a fair option.

1. Gently flatten the curling shingles and apply some roofing cement to the undersides of the edges.

2. Firmly press the shingles back into place.

Flattening out shingles should keep water out long enough to determine the overall condition of the roof.


Make temporary shingles from sheet metal

Worker cutting a piece of sheet metal

Cracked or missing shingles are often the cause of roof leaks. If you can’t find a good match to make the repair, sheet metal makes for a sturdy and reliable temporary repair option.

1. Trim the sheet metal down to the size and shape of a shingle and slide the back edge underneath the row of shingles above, ensuring the bottom edge lines up with the bottom edge of the shingles on the other side.

2. Nail the sheet metal shingle into place and coat the nails with roofing cement.

Replacing missing shingles with sheet metal is not a pretty repair option, but it will keep rain out until a professional can install a permanent repair.

Paint on a black tar patch

If wet weather is prohibiting you from installing a permanent repair, pick up a bucket of black tar to paint over the leaking area.

Black tar can be applied even when the roof’s surface is wet. It will seal up any gaps in your roof and prevent rain from penetrating the roof system. Black tar is not a long-lasting solution, so call a professional roofing contractor once the rain lets up.


Act fast to prevent further damage

The faster you act to seal up a roof leak, the better your home and roof will be. Moisture penetration can cause a plethora of damage while also promoting mold growth and mildew. Educate yourself on how to temporarily fix a roof leak before a professional can install a lasting repair.

Hometown Roofing Contractors is one of the easiest ways to find the best local roofing contractor for the job. You can read company profiles, see what other customers have to say about their experience, and request quotes from as many roofers as you'd like.

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