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How Do I Make a Temporary Fix for a Leaking Roof? Then What?

If you’ve ever been caught off guard by a leaky roof, you know just how quickly it can ruin your day. Not only does it give you a whole new home repair project to contend with, but if left alone long enough, that one roofing project can spiral into replacing furniture, carpet, or even the bones of your house.

Should you wake up to that telltale dripping, the most important thing to do is launch into damage control. A temporary fix for a leaking roof isn’t going to get you very far, but it will certainly help you avoid more costly damage. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry! With our years of experience, we have your back. These steps will help you make a temporary fix for a leaking roof, and tell you what to do after.

Evacuate the Damaged Area

With an active leak, you need to move fast. Before you do anything else, it’s imperative that you clear out the area the water is leaking into. Move anything that could be easily damaged by water, such as books or electronics, out of the room and into a safe place until the leak is sealed.

In addition to your smaller possessions, you’ll need to clear away any furniture under the drip to prevent water damage. That constant flow can easily warp wood or soak through a sofa, so act quickly. If you have carpeting, it may even be wise to pull it up and expose the underside to the open air. As with any water damage, mold is a serious concern. By moving your furniture and pulling up the carpet, you’ll be able to more effectively dry out anything that might be susceptible to mold spores.

Contain Any Flowing Water

Once the area is secure, you can get to work containing the water itself. This isn’t exactly a temporary fix for a leaking roof, but it’s still an important step in mitigating the damage. Find any kind of waterproof container you can—bucket, pot, washtub, anything—and position it under the dripping water. It’s not pretty, and you’ll need to watch it like a hawk to make sure it doesn’t overflow, but it’s the quickest and easiest way to manage the excess water.

If you’re lucky, the weather will let up and you won’t have to worry about it too much. But realistically? If you’ve found a leak, you’re probably dealing with a bout of serious rain. If it’s something you think you’ll be living with for a little while, you may want to leave a small board or a loose rag in whatever you’re using to catch the water. It doesn’t make it any more effective at containing it, but it will help muffle the repetitive dripping sound.

Find the Leak Itself

With your triage done, you can shift your focus to making an actual temporary fix for the leaky roof. You might think that tracking down the source of the water would be as easy as following the flow, but it can be surprisingly hard to determine where the problem is. Sure, you could just throw a tarp over the entirety of your roof and call it a day, but it’s not exactly the most elegant solution. Instead, we recommend doing a little investigative work to find exactly where the water is seeping into your home.

If you have access to your attic, you’ll want to start there. Look for any protrusions, black marks, water stains, or mold. Leaks tend to form around penetrations in the roof, such as chimneys and vents, as opposed to uninterrupted shingles, so pay close attention there. If it’s still raining, you may be able to see where the water is flowing from. If not, you may need to get a little creative and enlist some help.

Have someone use a hose to douse sections of your roof with water one by one while you observe from inside. This will allow you to determine where exactly the water is getting in from the outside. Once you know that, you can get to work sealing it up.

Lock Down the Leak

Since most people aren’t professional roofers, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to make an effective long-term seal. That’s totally fine! Until you can get someone else to help, all you need to do is put together something functional. It doesn’t need to be pretty; it just needs to work.

There are a few options you have for sealing up your roof, but it’s all going to depend on what you have on hand. If you have tar paper and roofing cement, you can use that to quickly spread a few layers over the leak and seal it up. For smaller leaks, you can even use caulk or cement to plug the hole.

The most common solution, however, is using plastic sheeting or tarps to cover the leak until it can be repaired professionally. It’s a simple, if unattractive, fix. Just spread out your sheeting or tarp over the affected area, then secure it in place. Roofing nails would be ideal if you have them, but you can also weigh it down with any heavy objects you don’t mind leaving on your roof. As long as you have a heavy enough seal around the sheet, it should be an effective temporary fix for your leaking roof. That being said, until you get a more permanent repair, we recommend you keep that bucket close at hand.

Seek Professional Help

With the leak contained for now, it’s time to call in the roofing experts. Roofing can be a difficult and dangerous job, and it’s best left to people who know what they’re doing. A professional roofer will be able to assess the damage and determine the best course of action. Here at Interstate Roofing, our team is dedicated to serving our community for all their roofing needs. Should you find yourself in need of some emergency roof repairs, give us a call. Our trained professionals are ready and able to help.