Although your home’s roof is one of its strongest barriers against the harsh elements of the great outdoors, there will inevitably come a time when roof repairs are necessary. Even if you’re one of those homeowners who stay on top of roof maintenance year-round, you’re never truly protected from the unexpected. Whether you have damaged shingles after a severe storm or your roof leaks due to time and age, it’s important to fix your roof right away.
While taking care of roof leaks and other issues immediately is essential to maintaining a high-functioning home, it’s easy to make simple mistakes if you don’t know what you’re doing. But don’t worry; we’ve compiled the top DIY roof repair tips, as well as some things to avoid, so you can guarantee you repair successfully without too much additional stress.
Signs of a Leaky Roof 💦
Before you can make any repairs, you’ll, of course, want to know whether you actually have a roof leak in the first place. Signs of a leaky roof include:
- Cracked, curled, or missing shingles
- Discolored shingles (from hail damage)
- Water spots on interior ceiling or walls
- Loose asphalt shingle granules in gutters
- Missing or damaged flashing, pipes, or vent boots
- Wet roof deck or attic floors
- Damp attic insulation
- Large debris on the roof (i.e., fallen trees, limbs, etc.)
- Obvious light shining through into the attic
Finding the Roof Leak 🔍
If any of the issues above sound (or look) familiar, it’s likely that you have a leaking roof. The source of most leaks is typically easy to spot, but small leaks can pose more of a challenge. Take the following steps to find your leak:
- If there are water spots on the attic floor, shine a flashlight on the underside of any roof decking right above the area or in the general vicinity. This could help reveal the leak.
- Sometimes you can’t spot leaks without rain, so create your own! Work with a partner and have one person hose down the roof surface while the other looks for attic leaks.
- Inspect around your roof’s flashing, chimneys, or pipe and vent boot areas, since these are easily damaged and often the source of leaks. Fortunately, they’re all easy to repair or replace on your own.
- Remove roof shingles where you think there may be a leak to get a closer look at the underlayment. Then, you can also see if there is any damage to the shingles themselves.
- Schedule a professional roofing inspection if you don’t feel confident getting up there to find the leak yourself. Hiring professional roofers will ensure every issue is addressed quickly and correctly.
7 DIY Roof Repair Tips to Fix a Leaking Roof 🛠
After finding the leak, you’re ready to fix your roof. Try out some of these helpful tips:
1.) Make Minor Repairs
It’s easy to make minor repairs like replacing old shingles, vents, and flashing or applying caulk around corroded nail heads. Just make sure to use matching shingles when making repairs.
2.) Fix Small Holes
Hail storm damage or smaller debris can create little holes in your roof or underneath shingles, which are relatively simple to fix using caulk or flashing. Lay overlapping flashing on top of these holes once they’re filled to create a tight seal.
3.) Replace Step Flashing
Roof flashing often fails first because of consistent weathering and exposure to the elements. Fortunately, it’s easy to replace using the following steps:
- Remove shingles
- Pry up damaged flashing
- Install new flashing, ensuring that it’s level
- Secure flashing with roofing nails
- Seal the edges with caulk
- Replace removed shingles
Don’t know what the different parts of your roof are actually called? Check out this helpful guide to common roof terminology.
4.) Repair or Replace Vents & Boots
Vents and pipe boots are also susceptible to leaks if damaged since they’re placed in a cut hole and sealed around the edges with flashing. Once damaged, these items must be replaced immediately to avoid further problems.
Replacing vents and boots is very similar to replacing flashing. You need to remove the surrounding shingles in order to get the boot or vent out. Then, confirm there’s no damage to the underlying roof decking before installing the new vent or pipe boot in its place. Finish off with more flashing or caulk, then reapply the shingles.
5.) Fix Leaks Around Chimneys
Whether the step flashing around your chimney is leaking, or an actual crack has formed in the brick itself, leaks in brick chimneys can cause water damage all the way down to the ground floor. You may need to hire a professional mason to make these repairs unless the flashing needs to be fixed. If that’s the case, simply follow the steps we already listed above.
6.) Don’t Rely On Re-Caulking
It might seem like the easy route to use your caulk gun for every repair, but you can’t count on this temporary solution to stay working for long. Roofing cement or caulk only acts as a filler for small holes or where flashing can’t create an airtight seal. Choose the correct type of caulk for your home’s roof to make a quick fix, then call a professional roofer to fix the problem long-term.
7.) Know When to Say No
Although you might be able to tackle some smaller repairs yourself, you need to know when it’s time to call your local roofing contractor. If you’re feeling less than confident in your abilities, know that a pro can handle it, so don’t hesitate to contact someone with more roofing expertise to ensure everything’s done right.
DIY Roof Repair Mistakes to Avoid ❌
While some minor repairs are easy for the family handyman to finish, any professional roofer can attest that not every homeowner is equipped to handle DIY repairs. Making mistakes when it comes to your roof can be costly and frustrating. To help you avoid an expensive headache, here are a few things you should NOT do when repairing your own roof:
- Try to tackle big repairs alone. Don’t get in over your head DIYing large or complex jobs that can avoid warranties or fail to meet local codes. Instead, hire an experienced roofing contractor who can get it done right.
- Get on your roof without the proper safety equipment. Roofing is one of the most dangerous jobs; without adequate training or safety precautions, it can be potentially fatal.
- Go crazy with caulking. Caulk is only a temporary roof sealant, and this quick fix shouldn’t be used in the long-term or on large-scale projects.
- Let water leaks linger. Waiting to fix a leaky roof can lead to more damage to your roof as well as your home’s interior.
- Hire an underqualified roofing team. Always work with a roofing company that is licensed, insured, experienced, and offers workmanship warranties.
Put Your Trust In the Pros 👷🏻
If you realize that your roof problem is too substantial to tackle alone, or a roof replacement might be necessary, the next step is to speak with an experienced contractor. Put your pride aside and put your trust in the professionals to get your roof fixed quickly and correctly. Contact Impact Roofing to schedule your repairs or get your free estimate to install a new roof today.