DIY Roof Leak Repair: Tips & Tricks (2022)

Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide:

  • How to identify a roof leak
  • The most common types of roof leaks
  • How to fix each type of roof leak
  • When to call a professional for a roof leak repair
Ecowatch Author Faith Wakefield

By Faith Wakefield

Updated 9/19/2022

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How do you repair a leaky roof? The answer depends on what is causing your roof to leak in the first place. 

In this guide, we’ll help you identify the source of your roof leak and explain what tools and resources you’ll need to fix it as quickly as possible. 

If you would like to receive a free estimate for your roof leak repair, select one of our recommended roofing companies below to get connected with a professional:

Best for New Roofs
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Ecowatch rating

Average cost

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Erie Metal Roofs

  • Pros icon Lifetime or lengthy warranty
  • Pros icon Widespread availability
  • Pros icon 10+ years of experience
  • Pros icon Positive customer reviews
  • Pros icon Uses eco-friendly materials
  • Pros icon Financing options available
  • Pros icon Well-trained, certified installers
  • Pros icon Uses durable materials meant to last
  • Pros icon Variety of roofing styles available
  • Con icon Limited variety of roofing materials
  • Con icon Expensive
Most Eco-Friendly
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Ecowatch rating

Average cost

$$$$$

Aspen Contracting

  • Pros icon Positive industry reputation
  • Pros icon Lifetime or lengthy warranty
  • Pros icon Widespread availability
  • Pros icon 10+ years of experience
  • Pros icon Positive customer reviews
  • Pros icon Financing options available
  • Con icon Little information available on company website
Best Overall
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Ecowatch rating

Average cost

$$$$$

Power Home

  • Pros icon Positive industry reputation
  • Pros icon Lifetime or lengthy warranty
  • Pros icon 10+ years of experience
  • Pros icon Positive customer reviews
  • Pros icon Uses eco-friendly materials
  • Pros icon Well-trained, certified installers
  • Pros icon Variety of roofing styles available
  • Con icon Limited variety of roofing materials
  • Con icon Short or nonexistent warranty
  • Con icon No financing information available
  • Con icon Expensive
  • Con icon Little information available on company website

Jump To: How Do You Find a Roof Leak? | 6 Common Types of Roof Leaks | How to Fix Common Roof Leaks | Repairing Simple Leaks | Fixing Complex Roof Leaks | FAQ: Roof Leak Repairs

How Do You Find a Roof Leak?

You don’t need us to tell you that dripping water is a clear indicator that your roof is leaking. But sometimes the leak is harder to spot.

Musty smells, warped shingles, spots on the exterior of your home and water stains on your ceilings or walls are all warning signs of a roof leak. 

If it isn’t obvious where your roof is leaking from, you’ll have to do some investigating. The best place to start is in your attic. Take a flashlight and look for mold or water stains along the roof sheathing or rafters.

6 Common Types of Roof Leaks 

Before you can fix your roof leak, you have to figure out what’s causing the issue. Here are the six most common types of roof leaks and why they happen: 

  • Old roofing: If you’re experiencing leaks on multiple sections of your roof, it may be a sign that your roof is past its prime. If your roof is older and is showing signs of wear, it may be time for a roof replacement.
  • Poor maintenance: Walking on your roof, dropping tools and allowing ice, snow or even moss to pile up are all examples of poor roof maintenance that can lead to roof leaks. Cleaning your roof, whether by yourself or with the help of a professional, is a great way to prevent leaks. 
  • Poorly installed or worn-out design features: If your skylights, dormer windows, vents or other roof features were not installed properly with quality sealing materials, this could lead to roof leaks.
  • Cracked or improperly installed flashing: Flashing is placed under your roof’s shingles to redirect water away from your home. However, rain and other weather conditions can cause flashing and sealants to wear out and crack over time. Flashing can also cause leaks when improperly installed.
  • Cracked chimney: The mortar that your chimney is made of can corrode over time due to exposure to the elements. Old or damaged chimney flashing can also cause leaks. If you suspect that your chimney is the cause of your roof leak, check along the chimney’s inner walls for dark stains or other signs of water damage. 
  • Ice dams: Ice dams can be extremely harmful to your roof. Ice dams prevent melting snow and ice from flowing into your gutters, causing the water to build up and seep under your shingles instead.

Tips for a Hard-to-Find Roof Leak 

Some roof leaks are difficult to find. If you still can’t find the leak after checking your attic, have someone stay inside your house while you spray the roof with a garden hose. Go section by section, making sure that you soak the roof thoroughly.

Ask the person inside to tell you if they start to see a drip. This will help you identify the source of your leak.

How to Fix Common Roof Leaks

How you should fix a roof leak can vary depending on the source of your leak. If small cracks or holes are causing your problem, it may be a simple fix. However, larger problems may require a professional assessment. 

Fixing Leaks From Vent Boots

Vent boots are rubber sleeves that are installed around the vents and pipes on your roof. Vent boots are meant to prevent water from seeping into your home through the roof vent or pipe.

If there’s an issue with the vent boot — like a split — or if a vent boot is improperly installed, it can lead to a roof leak.

To fix the issue, you will have to either replace the vent boot entirely or seal the splits.

If the splits on your vent boot are large or the vent boot is in poor condition (cracked, rotted or torn), you should hire a professional roofer to replace the boot.

Replacing a vent boot requires removing and replacing the old shingles around the vent. Properly installing a new vent boot takes skill, so it’s best to go with a professional to make sure the job is done correctly.

If the vent boot is in otherwise good condition and the splits between the vent and the boot are less than a half inch in length and one-quarter inch in width, you can use a roof sealant to reseal the leak yourself. Just make sure to completely seal the boot by applying multiple layers of sealant around the vent pipe.

How to Fix Roof Vent Leaks

Roof vents are important because they regulate the temperature of your roof and attic and prevent overheating. Roof vents also prevent condensation, which can cause water damage in your attic.

A leaking roof vent may be caused by heavy rains blowing under the hood of the vent, or damaged, old or nonexistent vent boots. When you’re examining the problem area, look for cracks, split seals or damage to the vent. 

If you need new flashing or a vent boot installation, you’ll likely need a professional’s help. However, you may be able to patch small holes or cracks with a roof sealant or caulk. 

Roof pipe

Fixing Roof Flashing Leaks

Roof flashing is thin metal sheeting that is installed around roof features — like vents, pipes, chimneys and skylights — to seal out and redirect water away from your home. Metal flashing is a crucial component of your roof that may need to be repaired or redone during your roof’s lifetime. 

Unless you have prior roofing experience, installing roof flashing should be done by a professional. However, if the flashing issue is just a result of a small hole or an old seal, you can repair roof flashing yourself using caulk and roofing cement. 

To reseal flashing, chip or pry out the existing mortar or sealant and use masonry caulk to seal the space between the flashing and the chimney or other roof features. Once the sealant has sufficiently cured (according to the directions on the packaging), use a masonry trowel to apply flashing cement. 

Roof flashing

Repairing Simple Leaks 

Some roofing leaks are simple repairs that you can do yourself. Identifying and fixing leaks early will help you avoid more expensive repairs down the road. 

Here are some of the most common roof leak repairs: 

Gutter Cleaning

Keeping your gutters clean is more of a leak prevention method than a repair, but it is still important. 

Clogged gutters can prevent proper water flow, putting strain on your gutters and eventually leading to water overflow and leaks. Water can pool in your gutters and soak the edge of your roof, causing water damage and attic leaks over time. 

You can avoid these issues by keeping your gutters clean. Experts suggest that you clean your gutters twice a year, but this can vary depending on how much debris falls on your roof.

If your gutters get clogged frequently, or you want to reduce how frequently you clean your gutters, we suggest installing gutter guards

Caulking

Fixing leaks around chimneys, vents and pipes on your roof may be as simple as replacing the caulk along the edge of the flashing that surrounds these roof features. 

If you choose to do it yourself, you can buy caulk at any home improvement store. Make sure to choose a silicone caulk that is waterproof and made to withstand the elements. 

Single Shingle Repairs

If you have a shingle roof, you’ll likely have to deal with missing or damaged shingles at some point. Luckily, if there are just one or two damaged or missing shingles, a shingle replacement is relatively easy. 

All you have to do is remove the nail (if there is one), use a pry bar to remove the old shingle, scrape away the old roofing cement, lay down new cement and nail the new shingle over the damaged area.

Replacing Nails or Screws

Rusty or exposed roofing nails can lead to leaks. To avoid this issue, you can replace and caulk over old nails or screws. You can also use roof putty to fill holes or seams. 

If you have an exposed fastener metal roof, you can replace old screws or nails with gasket “rescue screws” that are made to be fastened into old holes and seal out water. 

Roofing nail

Fixing Complex Roof Leaks

Simple, DIY roof leak fixes like caulking and replacing shingles and nails are great short-term solutions to roofing issues.

That being said, hiring a professional roofing company to fix leaks, especially complex leaks, is a safer option that can provide more long-term solutions. Many roofing companies also back their work with a warranty, giving you peace of mind that the project will be done right.

Whether you go the DIY route or hire a professional, you must address your roof leak roof as quickly as possible. The longer you wait, the larger your problem will be, driving up roof repair costs and increasing the likelihood that you’ll have to bring in a professional.

Fixing complex or extensive roof leaks should be left to a roofing contractor. Significant water damage, mold or multiple water entry points through your roof are indicators that it’s time to call a professional.

If your roof leak has become serious, it could cause damage to your roof decking, underlayment or fascia boards. In this case, you may need a roof replacement. A roofer can do an assessment and give a professional opinion about whether you need a new roof or just a repair. Often, a roofing assessment is free.

Your roofing contractor is more likely to suggest a roof replacement if your roof is reaching the end of its expected lifespan anyway. Keep in mind that the lifespan of your roof will depend on which roofing material you have.

For instance, if you have an asphalt shingle roof that is over 20 years old, you may start seeing more frequent roof damage and leaks from old age, suggesting that you need a roof replacement.

If you would like to be connected with a roofing company and receive a free quote for your roofing project, select one of our top roofing providers below: 

FAQ: Roof Leak Repairs

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Faith Wakefield

Faith is a writer based in North Carolina. She holds English and economics degrees from UNC Chapel Hill, and her background includes event management and technical publishing. Faith is passionate about the arts and loves exploring environmental issues through economic and artistic lenses. She also enjoys spending time in nature, collecting books and practicing her Spanish.