5 Quick Ways to Find and Fix a Roof Leak

Roof leaks are no joke; not only can the be annoying and frustrating to deal with, but they can also be detrimental to the structure of your house. If your roof is leaking continuously, mold can start to form in your house, causing potential health problems. If the weather is too bad to get a roofer out or if you don’t have the money to spend on a roofer right at that moment, then you need a quick and easy fix to stop the roof leak.

So how do you make an emergency roof leak repair? There are a 5 quick ways you can make a temporary roof leak repair:

  1. Use a tarp
  2. Use roofing cement
  3. Replace shingles
  4. Make a replacement shingle
  5. Use roof flashing

These methods are all ways to make an emergency roof leak repair; however, you should not rely on these methods to be permanent solutions. As soon as you can, contact a trusted roofing contractor to come and inspect your roof.

Before you get started, it’s important to recognize the signs of a roof leak, take measures to lessen the damage, and also find the leak itself. Here’s how we recommend how to do this:

Before You Get Started

How to Recognize If Your Roof is Leaking

Roof leaks can be both very evident and also more subtle. The only way you find some leaks is by going up in the attic to discover mold and mildew everywhere. Other leaks will be more prominent, creating water damage in your ceiling.

Before you jump to the conclusion that the roof is leaking, make sure you rule out all other sources that may cause leaks, specifically related to plumbing. Sometimes plumbing issues can create leaks that can easily be mistaken for roofing leaks.

How to Minimize the Damage of A Roof Leak

Roof leaks not only make water drip from your ceiling, but they can also compromise the structural integrity of your house. It’s important to take actions to minimize damage as soon as you realize there’s a problem.

If the roof leak is causing the ceiling drywall to sag, the best thing to do is to take a pencil and poke a hole in the center of the affected area. But a bucket under the hole and watch the water pour through.

This will keep the water from spreading out over the ceiling, which can potentially cause the ceiling to collapse. As soon as you have this situated, then it’s time to go and find where the leak is coming from.

How to Find the Roof Leak

Finding the specific point where the roof is leaking can be frustrating. Water can tend to run and drip down and away from the leak, making it hard to find that actual source.

The easiest way to find the leak is to go into the attic while it’s raining and find the entry point of the water. Once you find the area of the leak, mark the spot.


Using a tarp is a quick and easy temporary fix for a roof leak repair. Once you’ve located the area in the roof where the water is entering, you can now go on the roof and cover the area with a tarp.

A tarp will protect the affected area by keeping moisture out. In order to effectively do this, you’ll want to make sure that you drape the top part of the tarp over the point of your roof. This way, no water will be able to run under the tarp.

Once you’ve fitted the tarp over the area, nail the edges of the tarp down. This will keep the tarp from blowing away in the wind. This is an emergency repair that can be completed in minutes, so always make sure you have a tarp handy that you could use in a situation like this.

Heavy Duty Roofing Tarp

EMERGENCY REPAIR #2: Use Roofing Cement

Roofing cement can be used to fix cracks and holes in your roof. You can purchase roofing cement from any hardware store or Walmart. This technique is most effective when applying the cement to a dry roof.

The process of applying roofing cement is a straightforward one. All you do is brush away debris from the hole or the crack, then fill it in with roofing cement. Most roofers will recommend putting a roofing mesh over the cement in order to make it more secure.

Here is our full article on Roofing Cement.

Roofing Cement

EMERGENCY REPAIR #3: Replace Shingles

Loose, curling, or broken shingles can be a catalyst to a roof leak. If you feel like you’re a more skilled handyman, then you may be up for the challenge of replacing the shingles yourself.

The first thing you’ll have to do is to remove the damaged shingle. You can do this by sliding a flat pry bar under the shingles in order to pop out the nails holding it in place. Once you do this, you can slide in a new shingle and nail it down.

On the underside of the shingle, you can apply roofing cement in order to hold the shingle down. Even if your emergency roof repair seems to be successful, you should still contact a professional roofing contractor as soon as possible to make sure that the leak was repaired correctly.

EMERGENCY REPAIR #4: Make a Replacement Shingle

If you need to replace shingles on your roof but don’t have extra roof supplies laying around, you can fashion a temporary shingle from sheet metal.

Cut the sheet metal to match the size and shape of a shingle, then follow the steps as if you were replacing an ordinary shingle. Once you have the sheet metal shingle in place, you can nail it in, being sure to cover the nails with roofing cement so the holes don’t start leaking.

EMERGENCY REPAIR #5: Use Roof Flashing

Roof flashing is a flimsy metal material that can be caulked under shingles over leaking areas. The flashing allows water to run over the area without being able to get into the house.

All you have to do is apply caulk around the location of the leak, tuck the flashing under the row of shingles, and press it against the caulk, which will seal it from leaking.

Flashing can be very effective at stopping leaks around the base of the chimney or in parts of the roof where the most water will drain to. Professional contractors will usually install flashing when the roof is originally built in order to ensure the longevity of the roof.


Roof Flashing

Frequently Asked Questions

Covering a leaky roof with a tarp.Can a Roof Leak be Fixed From the Inside?

You can temporarily fix a roof leak from inside your attic, but sooner rather than later, you will need to fix the leak from the outside.

An easy way to fix the leak from inside the house is to go in the attic and cover the leak with tar. Be sure to stick the tar up into the leak for ultimate coverage. Next, you can place a patch of sheet metal over the tar. Be sure to cover the edges of the sheet metal with tar as well.

What Causes New Roof Leaks

If your roof is only a few years old and it’s started to leak, it most likely means that the roof wasn’t installed correctly to begin with. If you used a professional roofing contractor to replace your roof the first time, call them to see if they offer a warranty on the roof installation.

If your area experiences particularly rough weather, a new roof could be worn in no time. In this instance, providing before and after pictures of your roof affected by the storm to your insurance company will help you to get the insurance money you need to pay for a new roof.


Matt McWilliams

Hi there! My name is Matt and I write for Expert Home Report. I enjoy writing about everything related to home improvement, home tips and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either spending time with my family, doing a DIY project or learning a new skill.