9 Roof Repair Tips for Homeowners (Top Mistakes to Avoid)

9 Roof Repair Tips For Homeowners (Mistakes To Avoid)

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9 Roof Repair Tips For Homeowners (Mistakes To Avoid)

roof repair

metal roofing - roofer working on the house roof

Looking for some tips to make your roof repair go a little smoother?

Most homeowners will experience a roof repair at some point in their lives. While it’s important to take care of your roof, it’s also easy to make mistakes that can end up costing you more money and time in the long run. Knowing some tips from the pros can help you avoid these costly mistakes and help you feel accomplished in caring for your home.

DIY Roof Repair Tips for a Leaky Roof

The unfortunate reality is your roof isn’t perfect and leaks happen! But knowing how to find and fix a minor leak can save you a ton of time and money. Maintenance is vital to keeping your roof and home in good shape for years to come. So here are some of the most helpful roof repair tips for handy homeowners like you.

signs of a roof leak include water spots on the ceiling

1) Signs of a Roof Leak

Roof leaks are not as easy to spot as you might think. But throughout the years of experience in roofing, we can round out some of the most common signs of a roof leak to a few key things. And homeowners can easily spot some of these to get ahead of a roof leak and ensure it gets repaired before getting worse!

Signs of a roof leak:

  • Water spots on your ceiling or walls
  • Cracked or missing shingles
  • Discolored shingles (from hail damage)
  • Granules in your gutters
  • Curled shingles
  • Wet roof decking or attic floor
  • Missing or damaged flashing, vents, or pipe boots
  • Large debris on the roof
  • Damp or deflated insulation

Now, these are not the only signs of a leak, but they’re the most obvious and easy to spot, even for the untrained eye. Leaks can still be small enough to where you don’t notice damage, or the leak takes longer to cause water damage.

Be mindful after strong storms (mainly hail and wind) that it’s possible you could’ve received storm damage. That’s why checking for loose granules in the gutters or spotting debris on your roof can help you get ahead of potential damage by checking those areas specifically.

damaged shingles

2) How to Find the Leak

Now, finding the specific leak is more difficult than seeing the signs of it. Leaks can be so small that you can’t see them at first glance. But there are a few things you can do to find the leak in order to repair it.

  1. Bring a flashlight to the attic and shine it on the underside of your roof decking. If you notice any water spots on the attic floor, check right above it or in the vicinity with your flashlight. You might be able to see where the leak is coming through.
  2. Use a hose to “make it rain” on your roof. It’s possible you won’t be able to spot the leak without rain, so make some of your own. Have one person use the hose and another up in the attic to look for a leak.
  3. Check the flashing around pipe boots and chimneys. This is often one of the most common places for a leak to occur because they’re easily damaged by weather or everyday wear/tear. Flashing can be replaced fairly easily and quickly, so this isn’t too difficult to fix on your own.
  4. Remove shingles in the area of the suspected leak. You may find the leak in the roof underlayment or see the damage to the shingle up close.
  5. Get a professional roofing inspection. It’s very important that if you don’t feel confident to inspect your own roof and find the leaks, to hire a pro roofer. They have the eye and expertise to find even the smallest leaks.

3) Fast Leak Solutions

Minor leaks can be very easy to repair. Some common repairs might be replacing just the damaged shingles, caulking around a rusted or corroded roofing nail, or replacing damaged flashing.

4) How to Fix Small Holes

Small holes can occur from hail or debris damage on your roof. It’s relatively simple to repair a minor hole using caulk and flashing. Commonly, mounting holes underneath shingles are the most susceptible to leaks. They can lead to rot and mold growth if left unrepaired. So once exposed, fill the small holes with caulk, then lay flashing on top to ensure a watertight seal.

patching the roof with a roof patch for small leak repair

5) Replacing Step Flashing

Flashing is often one of the first things to go on your roof. Consistent wear and tear and exposure to the elements can damage flashing. It’s easy to replace, though, even for the amateur handyman.

  1. Remove the shingles overlaying the step flashing.
  2. Carefully pry up the damaged flashing.
  3. Install a new piece of flashing, making sure it’s level.
  4. Secure the flashing in place with roofing nails.
  5. Seal the edges with caulk.
  6. Replace the shingles you removed.

It’s very important to always replace step flashing anytime there is damage so that water doesn’t get under the shingles and cause more damage down the road. For more installation steps and tips, check out this guide.

6) Repairing or Replacing Vents and Boots

Just like flashing, your roofing vents and pipe boots are also very susceptible to leaks if they’re damaged. Because these are put in place via a cut hole in your roof and use flashing to seal the edges, they must be replaced ASAP once damaged.

The replacement of your vents and boots goes very similar to replacing your flashing. You need to pry up the shingles around it (or remove them completely) in order to carefully remove the pipe or vent.

Then, ensure there is no damage to the roof decking underneath. Once you confirm that, go ahead and install a new roofing vent or pipe boot in its place. Follow up with flashing, caulking, and replay the shingles back in place.

replacing your roof pipe boots can fix leaks

7) Repairing a Leak Around the Chimney

Chimneys are sealed using flashing or step flashing as well. There can also be cracks in the chimney itself that can cause leaks all the way down to your ground floor if severe enough. A professional mason may be required to repair chimney leaks, but if it’s just the flashing that is damaged around the chimney, go ahead and follow the flashing repair steps to fix this all-too-common leak.

8) Can’t I Just Re-Caulk Everything?

Short answer: no. You shouldn’t rely on caulk to repair all of your roof leaks. While it can be a good way to finish a leak repair, relying solely on caulk can only buy you time. Only use caulk for very small holes as filler, or where you can’t use flashing to create a watertight seal.

9) What if the Roofing Issue Is More Complex?

Typically, a roofing issue will be something that you can fix yourself with ease. However, if the leak is too severe or you’ve experienced more extensive damage—it’s best to call in a professional and get an estimate on how much it will cost to repair or replace your roof. Complex roofing issues and leaks could be sagging, larger holes, large sections of missing shingles, or extensive leaks that have soaked your attic.

Roof Repair Mistakes to Avoid

We’ve seen a lot of failed DIY repairs in our day, and if homeowners only knew what NOT to do, they could’ve saved themselves a lot of pain and strife. So to help you, here is what not to do when it comes to roof repair.

  • Tackle severe repairs on your own. Large-scale repairs require a team of experienced contractors. Not only will you get over your head, but DIYing larger complex roofing jobs can void warranties, or fail to meet building codes.
  • Getting up on the roof without safety gear. Roofing is one of the most dangerous jobs out there, and inexperienced homeowners getting up on the roof without the proper training or equipment can be fatal.
  • Use caulk for every roofing repair. As we mentioned before, using caulk to seal a leak is only temporary and can cause more damage down the road if you don’t catch it in time.
  • Letting water sit too long after a storm or without repairs. Again, the longer you let your leaks sit—the more damage can be done to your home.
  • Hiring a contractor without the proper credentials or experience in roofing. Always make sure you’re hiring someone that is licensed and insured, has great reviews, and offers a warranty on their workmanship.

roof repair tips from the pros

Know When to Call the Pros

We love a homeowner who can tackle their own DIY repairs and home projects. But without the proper experience or knowledge to get the job done, you can dig yourself into a hole that you can’t get out of without the help of a professional roofer.

Luckily, the Dreamworx team is here to help. We have the knowledge and experience to help you get your roof leak repaired as soon as possible. If you don’t want to deal with the stress of fixing your own roof, give us a call! We can inspect your roof, get you an estimate, and repair your roof faster than you can say “help”.

Charlie Anderson
"Living comfortably at home means living in a safe, cozy house that protects you from outside elements." -Dreamworx Co-Owner, Charlie Anderson

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