How to Find and Fix a Roof Leak Like a Pro

How to Find and Fix a Roof Leak Like a Pro
Tony Schlessinger
Tony Schlessinger


One of the most important parts of your house is the roof. And we unconsciously depend so much on the roof that sometimes we fail to appreciate how important it is. One of the things that can be very troublesome as far as roofs are concerned is finding a leak. When you look around your home sometimes, you may find water spreading, or notice a drip from the roof. When you see some of these signs you will know that your roof is most likely experiencing a leak. 

When you notice a leak, do not ignore it. If you allow it to fester, it will damage your home. Water can make wood rot, mess up drywalls and also encourage the growth of mold. You can choose to get a professional to fix your leaky roof which is highly advisable but will cost you some money, or follow this guide where you will learn how to find and fix a roof leak like a pro.

How to Find a Roof Leak Like a Pro

You may think that finding the location of a leak would be very easy to do. But it is not as straightforward as it sounds. The thing is that the exact location of the leak is usually away from where you observe the leaks. What happens is that water goes down through the shingles until they find a nail or protrusion from which they can leak out. Where you see the leak, may not be exactly where the leak happened. 

To find the leak, you will need, a ladder, garden hose, mask, flashlight, tape measure, and a second person to help you. This is not a one-man job.

Steps to find the leak 

  1. One person should be in the attic: One of you has to be in the attic, the person should use a dust mask to protect themselves. Locate the area where you see the water leaking through your ceiling. When doing this you should wear long sleeves and gloves. 
  2. Look around for water damage. Move above the ceiling leak point to find the actual leak point. It will usually be above the ceiling link point towards the peak of the roof. 
  3. When you find the area you suspect to be the leak point, the other person outside climbs the roof and sprays water above the suspected leak point. You will need to do this over and over again before you find the leak point.
  4. Once you find the leak point, mark the location from within the attic. Then the other person outside will measure from the ridgeline of the roof by the same distance, this is usually the source of the leak. 

Common Causes of Roof Leaks 

Weather conditions like high winds and hail can cause damage to your roof and when they cause damage to your roof, it can lead to a roof leak. And the risk is higher for older roofs because as your shingles get older, the more prone they are to damage. 

Here are some causes of roof leaks:

  • Missing Shingles: When there is a wind or sand storm, it can rip the shingle off your roof and when this happens, a perfect path is created for water to enter your home. 
  • Cracked or Broken Shingles: When branches that hang over your home break off and fall on your roof, they can damage your shingles. This is one major cause of leaks and that is why it is advisable to trim the trees around your house. 
  • Gaps: As your roof gets older, gaps can form around the flashing of your roof.
  • Worn out flashing: When your roof flashing gets old, it will lead to a leak, you will need to replace it.

How to fix Leaks Temporarily 

Sometimes, you may need to fix your leak temporarily to avoid more problems. Maybe a tree branch breaks off and hits your roof and causes a leak. You will need to fix it temporarily before getting a professional to help you out. When you have a leak on your roof, the best way to fix them temporarily is by using tarps or plastic

What you need

You will need the following to fix your roof temporarily: Ladder, Hammer, Roofing Sealant. Trowel. Safety rope, 2 x 4 planks, Plywood Sheet.

Emergency Tarp

For an emergency tarp fix, you will first cut enough tarp or plastic that will cover the leaking spot. Then you attach one side of the tarp to a 2 x 4 plank. Then you spread the tarp over the hole, and then attach the other side of the tarp to the second 2 x 4 plank. 

Patching a hole 

Another way you can fix leaks temporarily is by patching the hole. You start by cutting plywood that is larger than the hole. Then you apply enough cement around the hole, ensure that you put enough cement. Then you place the plywood over the hole and then nail it down to the roof. Then you apply cement to the edges of the plywood. This will help to cover the gaps on the plywood to avoid further leaks. 

Fixing Roof Leaks Permanently

The only way to fix leaks for the long term is by replacing the affected shingles. If there is any damage to the roofing sheets, it needs to be replaced as soon as possible. There are some of these replacements you will be able to pull off on your own, whilst there are some you will need professional help to do.

Replacing Shingles

You will be able to replace a damaged shingle by yourself here are the steps to take:

  • First, you loosen the shingle. You do this by looking for the nails holding the shingle down and pulling them out gently. You will notice as you do this that the nail on each shingle goes beyond the shingle below it, so you will need to remove the topmost shingle to get to the affected shingle.
  • Remove the shingles starting with the lowest one and do this gently so you do not damage the surrounding shingles. 
  • Then you replace the damaged shingles with one news. Start from the bottom and make sure that they are aligned correctly before you nail it down. 

This is how you replace a damaged shingle. It may get tricky along the way, once you cannot handle it anymore do well to get a professional roofing contractor to help you out. 


Fixing a leaking roof may look like a daunting task, but with a little help, you will be able to fix it like a pro. But it is advisable to get a professional when the whole process gets too complex for you to handle on your own to avoid causing more damage to the roof. 

If you will like to learn a more in-depth way to practically fix a leaky roof click here to check out this post. But if you’re more interested in finding the right type of roofing contractor but don’t know how to find the right contractor, check out this post on how to choose the right roof repair company in Austin, TX to fix your leaky roof.

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