Even seasoned DIYers often find roof work frustrating, due to the fact that certain jobs can really only be performed by professional roofers who can bring their training, experience, and specialized equipment to the job. Tasks like replacing an entire roof are extremely labor-intensive and shouldn’t be attempted by those who aren’t prepared to spend a great deal of time and effort on the project. Professional roofers are highly trained in matters of safety as well. It’s not worth putting yourself at risk to try to save a few dollars on a roofing job, and the professional results of working with a pro will be worth the money.
Often, however, you can perform some temporary repairs while you wait for your roofer to arrive. Note that even quick fixes such as these require a commitment to staying safe. Make sure you have the right tools for the job, as well as the proper safety equipment. With that said, here are five temporary repairs you can make while waiting for your professional roofer to arrive:
A leaky roof is more than just a minor annoyance. It can be a devastating problem if it’s not dealt with immediately, due to the fact that even a seemingly minor leak can eventually cause catastrophic water damage. And while many roofers, such as Interstate Roofing, offer 24/7 emergency repair services, sometimes, you’ll need to address the problem yourself quickly, even if you only have to wait a short time for your repair person to show up.
If you notice that there’s a leak inside your home, the first step is to identify its source. This may involve heading into the attic or crawlspace to see where the water is dripping from. If the leaky area has existed for some time, you might notice the wood in that spot has blackened from mold growth. In other cases, it will be less obvious and you’ll need to feel around to locate the damage.
Once you’ve located the source of the leak, you can place a bucket underneath it to capture any water that falls. You can also cover the leaking part with plastic. Often, you don’t actually need to climb onto the roof to do this. The plastic can be stapled over the leaking area inside of the attic itself.
Sometimes, the reason your roof is leaking is that tree limbs, branches, leaves, and other forms of debris have built up on top of it. These materials will form an obstruction that prevents water from safely running off the roof. As a result, it will pool in areas and eventually find its way through weak spots in the roofing structure. Heavier debris can also damage the roof directly. It can fall onto the roof hard enough to knock shingles loose, punch through roofing membranes, or just generally weaken the structure of the roof.
While it may take a professional roofer to repair the leaks that the accumulated debris has exacerbated, you can often remove the debris yourself without too much difficulty. If you need to climb onto the roof to do this, make sure you have a sturdy ladder, a safety harness, and a spotter to help keep an eye on things. Also, make sure that the weather is safe for climbing. If it’s raining or snowing, you’ll want to wait until things dry out before you attempt a climb.
When you’re cleaning debris off the roof, the key is to avoid using a brush that will be harsh on the shingles. A lightweight broom should do the job nicely, or a leaf blower is even better, as it won’t have to touch the roof at all.
Roofing tape is a great product for quick, temporary repairs. Buy a roll (or several) at your local hardware store and keep it on hand in case of emergencies. If a leak develops, you can simply cover it with the roofing tape to keep water and cold air out until help arrives.
Note that this type of solution is extremely temporary. Roofing tape is strong and highly water-resistant, but it can’t withstand the continuous onslaught of wind and rain in the same way a sturdily built roof can. Always use roofing tape as a temporary repair and contact a professional roofer as soon as possible.
Flashing is the metal material that helps to direct water off potentially weaker areas of your roof, such as seams, preventing damage from occurring. Because it serves on the front lines and constantly has water running over it during bad weather, flashing can become vulnerable to corrosion and other forms of damage.
It takes a seasoned roofer to remove and repair heavily damaged flashing, but you may be able to make a temporary repair with a little roofing cement. All you have to do is climb onto the roof—once again, make sure you do this safely—and plug any holes you can find with a bit of roofing cement. Roofing cement is a product, specifically designed for roof repairs, that you can find at your local hardware store.
NOTE: the roofer may have to remove the flashing entirely if roofing cement is used.
Larger holes can be repaired with patches made from the same material as the flashing itself—usually aluminum or another lightweight metal—which is attached over the hole using roofing cement as a sort of glue.
Sometimes, a heavy wind or storm can tear through an area and carry away a large number of shingles from the top of your roof. This barren area is then further vulnerable to the elements and can eventually become compromised by wind and rain. If you think you might need to wait a while for your roofer, you might consider using tar paper or a tarp as your temporary repair.
Tar paper is highly water-resistant and can be fastened with lath just like a tarp. This makeshift barrier you create will help to protect your roof while you wait for some much-needed temporary repairs.