How To Repair Your Roof

Jeffrey Anderson | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

A roof leak can damage your home's insulation and sheetrock and if neglected, may necessitate costly structural repairs. Your first thought might be to set up a ladder to do a little investigative work, but that's not always a good idea. Working on a roof can be very dangerous and whenever possible, should be left to the professionals--even falling from the roof of a one story home can result in serious injuries. However, if you must, here are a few tips that can help you locate the leak and do your roof repair.

How to repair your roof without falling

The most difficult part of doing a roof repair is often locating where the water is finding its way into your home. Water has a tendency to travel, and that damp spot you see on your sheetrock ceiling might be far from the actual leak location. If you have access to your attic and the underside of the roof sheathing is exposed, this can be a better indicator of where the water is actually entering. It's often easy to spot water staining on the plywood or OSB board, because it shows up as dark shading.

The type of roof covering you have can determine whether a DIY roof repair is possible. If you have tiles or slate up there, don't even consider getting on your roof--walking on those materials takes skill and you could cause more damage than you already have by attempting a repair. Asphalt shingles and metal roofing are much more DIY roof-repair friendly. Here are a few tips on how to repair your roof leak safely:

  1. Safety first--always use protective gear before attempting to get on your roof and have a helper secure the bottom of your ladder
  2. Roof flashing--all roof penetrations have some sort of rubber or metal flashing to prevent water from entering your home. Loose flashing or cracked caulking at flashed areas can be prime locations for water leaks--any penetrations in the vicinity of your water intrusion should be checked first
  3. Broken shingles--wind and age can cause shingles to break and create potential locations for water leaks. If you have any broken or missing shingles, they should be replaced
  4. Fasteners--metal roof panels are often secured with fasteners that have rubber washers--if this washer becomes brittle or broken with age, a leak can result. Any fasteners with missing washers should be covered with a roofing sealant

Some roof repairs are DIY-friendly, but many require the skills of an experienced roofing professional if for no other reason than to keep you safely on the ground.