Everybody dreads that damp patch on the ceiling or, worse, the small puddle on the attic floor telling you there’s a leak in the roof. A heavy hailstorm or thunderstorm, falling branches, or debris blown by strong winds can all cause damage to your roof and cause a leak. And roof leaks tend to do only one thing—get worse. That’s why the quicker you can repair your roof, the more worry and expense you save yourself.
The best and safest solution is to use the services of a professional roofer, and you’ll need to do this at some point for your roof to be 100 percent perfectly waterproof again. But there’s also a temporary solution until help arrives—a temporary roof patch.
Bear in mind that temporary is the key word—even if you stop your roof from leaking, when dampness finds its way under the roof patch and begins to spread, your roof will start to deteriorate. A permanent repair will still be necessary. And qualified professionals will not only fix the problem, but they’ll go over your roof to check for further damage and smaller leaks you may not have noticed. Using a reputable company for your emergency roof repair, such as Interstate Roofing, you’ll have peace of mind.
In the meantime, one of these temporary roof patches can help you stay dry while you wait for your contractor.
If you need to get up on the roof during calm in the storm and patch your roof with whatever materials you have at hand, a polythene plastic sheet can do the job. If you don’t have one and have a real emergency, heavy-duty black trash bags will work as a substitute.
You’ll need your polythene sheet or liners, a utility knife, a hammer, a few nails, and some kind of sealant. Position your ladder in a stable position near the leaky section of your roof. Do not climb onto a wet roof—you could slip on the wet surface and fall.
Spread your sheet over the area that needs the temporary roof patch, with several inches to spare all around. If you need more than one sheet or liner, make sure the one above overlaps the one below. Note: best practice is to start the patch at the ridge to avoid water running down the roof from running under your plastic sheeting.
Spread the plastic as flat as possible, then put nails around it every 6 to 12 inches. A blob of sealant around the nail heads will make them watertight too. Your repair should keep the water out of your home, but don’t count on it lasting more than the next few downpours
If you want a temporary roof patch that will hold out a bit longer, a tarp is your best bet.
If you’d prefer a longer-lasting option, a tarp is the next best. Make sure the tarp covers the leaky area entirely, with a few extra inches on each side. Have as much tarp as possible above the area—ideally up to and slightly over the ridge of the roof. This will ensure any water running down the roof from above is already on the outer side of the tarp, and therefore unable to get inside.
Smooth the tarp down as much as possible and fasten it so that the edges don’t flap around in the wind. Use lath (small pieces of wood you can find at the hardware store) to fasten the tarp by rolling the tarp around the lath and screwing it down through the roof. Your tarp will make a better temporary roof patch if you can fix it directly to your roof, but everywhere you drive a hole will have to be repaired/replaced.
Finally, if you can fix the lower end of the tarp to the roof fascia, that’s ideal. If not, using the lath, roll the end of the tarp around it and secure both as close to the lower edge of the roof as possible. Note: installing a tarp is a very temporary solution. Be careful not to cover vents, chimneys, or pipes.
If you can see a leak from your attic ceiling, you can also prevent damage by stopping the water from soaking insulation and ceiling drywall by simply putting a bucket under the drip. It sounds simple, but it can save you thousands in property damage.
Remember that in all cases, a temporary roof patch should not be left in place for too long. It will only protect your home for so long, so make sure to contact a roofing contractor as soon as possible. Many offer 24-hour emergency services. A trained roof repair technician will quickly find and repair any leaks, and you’ll have a watertight roof and a dry home again in no time.
It’s also advisable to get your roof checked at least once a year. You can do a simple check yourself, but if you’ve had heavy rain or storms, having a professional like Interstate look over it will give you peace of mind and prevent leaks further down the line.