How to Repair A Roof Leak

There’s nothing worse than realizing that your roof has sprung a leak. It’s easy to panic about fixing it, but usually, the answer is simpler than you’d think. Here’s what to do if your roof is leaking, and how you can put it right quickly. 

Address The Issue ASAP

One of the most important things you can do if your roof starts leaking is address it right away. It’s easy to put off fixing a roof leak, especially if you feel you don’t have it in your budget to fix it. That’s the worst thing you can do, though. 

The longer that leak is left, the more damage it will do. It can lead to mold and damp problems in your home, as well as wood rot that can threaten the stability of the roof if left for long enough. The important thing to do is not panic, and get help with that leak as soon as you notice it. If you don’t, it can become a much more expensive problem over time. 

Locate The Leak

If you’ve noticed water coming into your home, the first thing you need to do is find where it’s coming from. Start at the lowest point where you can see evidence of a leak, such as a ceiling stain, and work your way up. In the attic, use a flashlight to pinpoint where the water is coming from. You may see black or white marks on the roof deck, or mold starting to form. 

Be aware that roof vents are often the cause of a leak. These can allow water through as they aren’t sealed properly, so look for this. You’ll also want to look for damaged plywood roof decking, as this is another major culprit. 

Fixing A Roof Vent Leak

If it is the roof vent that’s causing the leak, then you can address this head on. Get on the roof and check the housing of the vent. It may have cracked or broken, or even become dislodged. In these cases, you’ll need to remove the vent itself and replace it to stop the leak. 

Remove the old vent by using a pry bar to pull out nails, and then the shingles surrounding it. Don’t remove those shingles, but instead have someone hold them back as you remove the old vent. 

When installing a new vent, apply roofing cement or sealant to the bottom of it’s flashing. Again using an assistant to hold back the shingles, slide the new vent into place. The lower section of the vent flashing should sit over the shingles, and that will stop the leak. Nail it down at all four corners, and cover the nails in sealant. 

Fixing A Leak From a Damaged Roof Deck

If the leak is coming from a damaged roof deck, you can repair this as well if you’re confident. Here’s how to do it. 

Tear off old shingles: Firstly, the old shingles will need to come off so you can access the damage underneath. Use a pry bar to get under the shingle from the bottom, and pull up to remove it. It’s best to start about two rows above where you intend to make the repair, and work down until you’ve exposed the area you need to fix. 

Remove the roofing paper: Now, you should see the roofing paper or underlayment. This can be removed by slicing through it with a utility knife. When you do this, keep as much intact as you can. 

Mark where the deck will be cut: You’ll now need to mark the area of the roof deck to be removed. To do this, make a chalk line on the left and right side of the damaged section, making sure that you’re marking in the center of the rafters. The nails in the deck will show you where these are. Then, mark two more lines crossways, both above and below the damage. 

Cut the deck away: You’re ready now to cut that damaged decking out. Use a circular saw to cut the roof deck out, ensuring that you’re kneeling away from the marked section as you do so. Set your circular saw to the depth of the roof deck, plus another 1/16-inch. Remove that old roof deck, but don’t throw it away yet. 

Cut the new deck patch: Use the old decking as a template, drawing around it to create the new patch. Cut this out on the ground. 

Attach the deck patch: Now you have your patch, you can attach it to the roof decking. Set it in place, and nail it into place with 8d common nails. 

Lay roofing paper: Working from the bottom up, lay new roofing paper or underlayment. Ensure there’s an overlap of at least 4 inches for each row. Roof this down with roofing nails. 

Install the first row of shingles: You’re ready now to put new shingles on top of this repair job. Start at the bottom row, and law a row of new shingles. Leaf the new shingles into the old ones, from left to right, to hold them in place. Run a bead of roofing cement along the bottom of the row, and nail them in place along the top. 

Install the rest of your shingles: To finish the job, you just need to install the rest of the shingles. Work upwards until you reach the top row. Slide the new shingles under the top row, to make them mesh with the existing shingles. 

Call A Professional If Needed

Do you feel like you’re not skilled enough to handle this repair? If so, then it’s always best to have a pro come and handle it for you. Again, call them as soon as possible, because the sooner you do, the easier and cheaper the repair will be. 

Now you know how to locate and repair a leak in your roof. Handle it as soon as you see the evidence of a leak, and you’ll be able to avoid any major damage to your home.