Everything You Need to Know About Roof Leak Repair

Has your home sprung a leak, or do you suspect your roof has sustained damage from a storm? The experts at Jobson Roofing have decades of roof leak repair experience. We’ll help you spot the source of your leak and give you a guide to conducting minor roof repairs.

As always, we recommend having a professional with experience in residential roof leak repair perform an inspection for the best advice.

What Causes Roof Leaks?

Damaged or Missing Shingles

Shingles can become damaged for a variety of reasons, including high wind, hail, sunlight, and poor ventilation. If your shingles are cracked or curling at the edges, that’s a good indication that they’re losing their effectiveness and may become the source of a leak. Missing or broken shingles are even worse, and you’ll want to have them replaced immediately to prevent water damage to your roof.

Flashing Issues

Roof flashing is the steel material that is placed at roof corners or around chimneys and ventilation. The purpose of flashing is to prevent water from getting to the most vulnerable parts of your roof, where it may be difficult for shingles to create a complete seal. If the flashing becomes damaged or was not installed correctly, water can seep into the cracks of your roof and lead to mold and leaks.

Clogged Gutters

If your gutters aren’t properly cleaned out in the spring and fall they can easily become clogged with leaves, twigs, shingles, granules, and other debris. Once they become clogged, it can lead to standing water along the edges of your roof, increasing your risk of a leak.

Ice Dams

In cold climates, snow and ice accumulation on your roof can form ice dams along the roof’s edge. These dams prevent melted snow from draining properly, which can cause water to back up under the shingles and seep into your roof’s interior. Cycles of freezing and thawing exacerbate the formation of ice dams, as melting snow refreezes at the roof’s edge. The repeated expansion and contraction of ice as temperatures change can compromise shingles, flashing, and other roofing components, leading to leaks.

Poor Installation

Roof leaks may result from substandard installation practices, such as inadequate sealing, improper fastening, or insufficient waterproofing. Improperly installed roofing materials such as flashing and vents can compromise the roof’s integrity and performance over time.

Attempting DIY roof repairs or installations without the necessary knowledge, skills, or tools can result in errors that contribute to leaks. Common mistakes include improper shingle alignment, inadequate flashing installation, and using incorrect materials.

Natural Aging

Over time, roofing materials undergo natural wear and deterioration due to exposure to sunlight, moisture, and temperature fluctuations. As roofing materials age, they may become brittle or fragile, making them prone to cracking, splitting, or breaking. Brittle materials offer less resistance to water intrusion, increasing the likelihood of leaks during inclement weather.

How Much Does a Roof Leak Repair Cost?

The cost to fix a roof leak will vary depending on several factors, including the extent of the damage, type of roof, materials needed, and labor. On average, the cost of patching a roof can range from $300 to $1,000 for minor roof repairs, while larger repairs can range from $1,000 to $4,000 or more.

DIY Roof Leak Repair

Identify the Source of the Leak

The first step in any roof leak repair is to identify the source of the leak. Start by inspecting your attic or crawl space for signs of water damage, such as damp spots, mold, or rot. Then trace the source of the leak to determine the area of repair needed on the roof’s surface.

If you’re having trouble finding it, try going into your attic during the day and turning the lights off. You may be able to see light coming through the damaged area. It’s also a good idea to look at particularly vulnerable areas, such as vents, chimneys, and corners, since they are a common place for leaks to occur.

Another method of finding the source of a leak is to go on top of your roof and inspect it for yourself. Look for evidence of damage, soft spots, or mold. You might also try seeing the leak in action by pouring water onto your roof. This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s a small amount of water is not likely to cause much damage. We recommend having someone in the attic or crawlspace while another person is pouring water on the roof with a garden hose.

If you’re unable to find the leak, or you’d rather not crawl around on your roof or under it, asking a professional is the best choice. A great roof leak repair company should offer to provide inspections for free and give you expert recommendations with a detailed estimate.

Clean the Area

Once you’ve identified the source of the leak, you’ll want to clean the repair area thoroughly. Remove any debris such as dirt, leaves, and twigs that are in the area. If you spot any trees that are rubbing against your roof or hanging over top of it, it might be a good idea to give it a good trim to prevent future mold and damages, while also clearing space to work.

If your roof has moss or algae growth, try using a solution of water and mild detergent or a commercial roof cleaner to kill and remove it. Apply the solution to the affected areas and let it sit for a few minutes to loosen the moss or algae. Then scrub the area with a stiff-bristled brush or broom to remove the debris.

Make sure the area is clean and dry before proceeding with repairs, as proper adhesion is crucial for effective sealing.

Buy Your Supplies

Depending on whether you’re patching a roof with shingles or repairing it some other way, you’ll need the right supplies for the job. A full list of items you might need includes:

  • Roofing cement or sealant: Roofing cement is used to patch cracks, seal seams, and adhere roofing materials. Be sure to choose a high-quality roofing sealant that is compatible with your roofing material and will stand up to your local weather conditions.
  • Replacement shingles or tiles: If your roof has damaged or missing shingles or tiles, you’ll need to replace them to restore the integrity of your roof. Purchase replacement shingles or tiles that match the style, color, and material of your existing roof.
  • Flashing: This is a thin metal or plastic material used to seal joints and transitions in your roof’s structure, such as around chimneys, vents, and skylights. Ensure you have enough flashing to repair or replace any damaged or missing sections.
  • Roofing nails or screws: You’ll need nails to secure shingles, tiles, flashing, and other roofing materials in place. Choose corrosion-resistant nails that are compatible with your roof material and thickness.
  • Roofing felt or underlayment: Roofing felt or underlayment provides an additional layer of protection between the roofing material and the roof deck. It’s used to reinforce areas with damaged underlayment or to provide temporary protection during repairs.
  • Safety equipment: It’s always important to have the right safety equipment when performing a roof leak repair, especially if you’re going on top of your roof. Some key equipment includes a sturdy ladder, safety harness, hard hat, gloves, and goggles to protect yourself from falls, slips, and injuries.
  • Roofing tools: A variety of roofing tools may be necessary depending on the scope of your repair project. Essential tools include a hammer, utility knife, pry bar, roofing nails, caulking gun, roofing trowel, and roofing brush.
  • Roofing tape or patching fabric: This can be used to reinforce seams, joints, and cracks in your roof’s surface. Choose a durable and weather-resistant tape or fabric that provides strong adhesion and waterproofing properties.
  • Cleaning supplies: Get a broom or brush to remove debris from the top of your roof, and some solvent to clean the roofing cement off your tools when you’re done.
  • Roof patch kits: A roof patch kit collects the tools you’ll need to make quick repairs to small leaks or damaged areas. They typically include roofing cement, patching fabric, and application tools.

Fix the Leak

The first step to fixing a roof is to remove any damaged material, such as broken shingles, damaged flashing, or rotted wood. This will allow you to get a better look at the extent of the damage and see what needs to be done.

For minor roof repairs, you may be able to use roofing cement for a temporary or permanent fix. Using a trowel or putty knife, scoop out a generous amount of roofing cement. Apply it directly over the leaky area and press it firmly into cracks, gaps, or around the edges of the flashing. If you’re dealing with a hole or a very noticeable crack, make sure the cement fully covers and seals the damaged area. The layer of cement should be at least 1/8 inch thick and extend several inches beyond the damaged spot in all directions.

If the leak is through a larger gap or around flashing, you might need to embed a piece of fabric or mesh into the roofing cement to reinforce the seal. Cut a piece of roofing fabric to cover the leak, press it into the wet cement, and then apply another layer of cement over the fabric. If the flashing is damaged, you may need to replace that as well.

Once the cement has been applied, use the trowel or putty knife to smooth it out, creating a seal that’s as even as possible with the surrounding roofing material. Avoid creating ridges or edges where water might pool.

Once you’re done, inspect your work to ensure the leaky area is fully covered and sealed. Be sure to clean your tools with mineral spirits or a similar solvent while the cement is still wet.

If any shingles were removed or damaged, you’ll need to replace them with new ones. Slide the new shingle into place, ensuring it aligns with the surrounding shingles, and nail it down securely.

Call the Experts

As you’ve seen, roof leak repair can be a complicated and time-consuming process, and it’s not recommended if you don’t have a lot of experience. Keeping your home clean and safe for your family is too important to take lightly. That’s why we recommend that most people get their leaks inspected by an experienced roofing company and work with them to perform any necessary repairs.

Professional Roof Leak Repair

Are you in need of professional roof leak repair in the greater Grand Rapids region? Reach out to the experts at Jobson Roofing for a free inspection and estimate.