How to Quickly Repair a Leaking Roof During Heavy Rains

black and white roof in a rain storm

Leaks in a roof are problems regardless of the weather, but a roof with a leaking problem during a heavy rainstorm can quickly turn into a dire situation. With lots of precipitation, water may begin to saturate insulation and drip onto the ceiling.

By the time you look up and see a water stain, large areas of your home have likely been compromised.

If you don’t act quickly, it could fall away. You need to find the leak quickly and rig an emergency repair as soon as possible.

Emergency roof patching procedure

Tools you’ll need:

  • Sponge or old towels

  • Piece of plywood

  • Bucket

  • Spare shingle

  • Tape measure

  • Putty knife

  • Roofing tar

1. Get into your attic and immediately remove wet insulation off the wet ceiling drywall. Use old towels or a sponge to wipe off standing water. Bring a piece of plywood and lay it across the roof joists below the emergency leak.

2. Place a large bucket on the plywood to catch falling water. Don’t put the bucket directly on the drywall as it may fall through when it fills with water.

3. Next, follow the leak back to the point where it enters the roof. This is important as it may be far from the point where it’s dripping onto the ceiling. Usually, you can trace the path along a rafter, but water may follow underside the roof deck.

4. Make a temporary patch with some roofing tar and a roof shingle or piece of plywood. Trowel the roofing tar into the leak using a putty knife. Push the shingle or piece of plywood into the tar, then trowel more tar around the edges of the patch.

Warning: Always wear work clothes and gloves when using roofing tar as it’s extremely difficult to remove from skin and essentially impossible to scrub off fabric.

Use a tape measure to gauge the distance of the leak from the roof gable and from the ridge. Once the rainstorm stops, put on rubber-soled shoes and get on top of the roof. Measure the same dimensions as in the attic and reinforce the undersides of shingles in the location of the leak with more tar or roofing cement.

This won’t act as a permanent repair, but it will drastically reduce the amount of water penetration until a professional is available.

Hire an experienced roofing contractor

Emergency roof covering procedure

roof with a tarp

Tools you’ll need:

  • 6-mil polyethylene sheeting

  • Four two-by-fours

  • Staple gun and staples

  • Nails

  • Hammer

If you can’t get into your attic and can’t determine the exact location of the leak, prepare a plastic roof cover with a roll of 6-mil polyethylene plastic and four pieces of two-by-fours.

1. Unroll the plastic and measure a large enough section to cover the roof from the eave to the ridge, adding an extra 4 feet, and cut it from the roll. Unfold the plastic to make an 8-foot wide piece of plastic.

2. Place one end of the plastic around one of the two-by-fours and staple the plastic to the wood. Grab the second piece of wood and place the plastic between them. Nail the two pieces of wood together.

3. Once the rain lets up get on the roof and place the wood along the eaves. Stretch the plastic over the roof ridge, making sure to cover the general location of the leak.

4. Secure the other end of the plastic to the remaining two-by-fours in the same fashion. Allow this section to hang down on the opposite side of the ridge. 


Hire a trained roofing contractor after the storm

roofing contractor

After the storm passes, call a reputable roofing contractor as soon as possible.

While it may be tempting to perform the repair yourself, chances are you'll be ill-equipped to assess for mold and other structural damages that might have occurred during the storm. 

At Hometown Roofing Contractors, we make it easy to hire experienced professionals. We'll match you up with the best person for the job. Customers can research a variety of roofing contractors, see what other customers have to say about their services, and request multiple quotes.

Hire an experienced roofing contractor