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Quick fixes for roof leaks to buy you time until extensive repairs can be done

water leak

If water drips down from your ceiling or walls during one of Nevada’s torrential rainstorms, your roof likely has a leak. Not only can the water drench carpets, damage furniture, or create slip hazards, but it can also initiate wood rot in the roof’s infrastructure and foster the growth of toxic mold in your house.

Telltale signs of roof leaks are the proliferation of mold in the attic and water damage on the ceiling, but do note that these may also be caused by plumbing issues. Once you’ve ruled out all other causes and determined that you have a leaky roof, you must fix this immediately. However, if weather does not permit extensive repairs or you can’t afford a professional roofing contractor just yet, there are quick fixes you can try.

Steps to take before doing a quick fix for roof leaks

If the ceiling drywall is sagging, it’s likely due to water having pooled there. You don’t want water to sit there and spread while you’re fixing your roof, so place a bucket or a basin beneath the bulge in the ceiling. Pierce the center of the affected drywall and let the water drain into the bucket.

If you have a ceiling leak diverter, then use it to channel ceiling drips away from furniture and electrical devices. Diverters are especially useful when water flow is sustained, such as during heavy rains.

Once you’ve taken care of pooled water and ceiling drips, you can now proceed to implementing one of the makeshift repairs below.

Cover large damaged areas with tarp

Tarpaulin is usually made of durable and flexible cloth polyester that’s coated with polyurethane to make it waterproof. This material is normally sold in large cuts, so you can use them to cover wide areas of your roof. For a roof leak repair project, you’ll need plain tarps with grommets along the edges.

When laying out the tarp, don’t just place it over the leak. Drape the tarp over the ridge of your roof to prevent water from flowing beneath the tarp and into the roof. Next, lay the tarp flat, smooth out any big creases, and use bricks or other heavy objects to keep the tarp in place until you can secure it with roofing nails or screws. Starting from the top, nail the grommets down to keep the tarp from being blown off by the wind. Don’t attach nails to the tarp itself because it might tear.

Cover less wide areas with roof flashing

Made of flimsy metal sheets, roof flashing can conform to odd angles, making it a common choice for waterproofing where the chimney walls meet the roof. In a pinch, you can also use roof flashing to cover a roof leak — simply tuck the flashing under a row of shingles above the leak, then use silicone caulk to seal the flashing’s edges.

Seal smaller holes and cracks with roofing cement, silicone, or rubber sealant

Sealants are widely available and are great for spot roof repairs, though each has pros and cons for you to consider.

Roofing cement

Unlike regular cement used to make concrete, roofing cement is waterproof. When your roof has dried, clean the damaged area with a brush, then use a trowel to fill in the crack or hole. Use a roofing mesh so that the cement has something to hold onto. This will make the cement patch more secure.


Silicone is a self-adhering gel that dries solid and translucent. It is easy to apply using a caulking gun and is perfect for plugging small holes, cracks, and narrow gaps. For the silicone to adhere properly, the surface must be free of debris and completely dry since it is waterproof. However, remember that this is a stopgap measure since silicone seals crack over time.

Rubber sealant

Rubber sealant is practically the same as silicone, except that rubber sealant can be applied on wet surfaces. You can also use this to seal the edges of tarp coverings. However, keep in mind that rubber sealant can mar the appearance of your roof, so apply it only on the parts of your roof that you intend to replace.

Replace damaged shingles yourself

Shingles act as a waterproof barrier for your roof, so broken, curled, or loose shingles could let water through. If you’re confident in your roofing skills, you can replace the damaged shingles with the same material or use makeshift ones made out of sheet metal or plastic. You can secure your replacement shingles by applying roofing cement on their underside and nailing them down. Cover the nails with cement so that water can’t seep through the holes.

Regardless of how well you patched up your roof, it's still best to have professional roofers check it out and make more thorough repairs. This is especially true if you want to maintain the value of your roof for insurance purposes. For extensive roof repairs, turn to D&D Roofing. Send us a message or call us at (775) 521-7440.

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