If your roof begins leaking, you must determine the situation’s urgency. Emergency roof repair services are often available 24/7 but are costly, particularly on nights and weekends. Sometimes, you can provide a temporary fix yourself and wait for normal business hours to call for service. In truly urgent situations, you should call a roofing professional immediately. We’ll explain how to tell the difference and what to do when you notice a leak.
What to Do When You First Notice a Roof Leak
Here’s what to do as soon as you spot water leaks.
- Assess for safety hazards: Ensure the leak isn’t endangering you or your family. Dry slippery floors, or shut off the power if you think your home’s wiring may be affected. Even a small leak near the fuse box can be a substantial safety hazard. If you think there’s any chance your roof may collapse, evacuate your home.
- Mitigate water damage: Once you’ve mitigated safety hazards, prevent further damage by using buckets or other receptacles to catch water. You can also use a shop vac and run a dehumidifier. Move furniture, and relocate valuables as necessary.
- Locate the leak’s source: Often, the leak is not directly above the dripping or pooling water. If you can access your attic, check for wet spots, water stains, dark streaks, discoloration, or condensation. Leaks will most likely develop around skylights and chimneys or at corners, joints, and roof valleys. If you have no attic or can’t access it, visually inspect the roof from the ground.
- Assess the severity: Determine whether this is an emergency. Here are signs that you need urgent roof leak repair.
- Water stain larger than three inches across
- Running or puddled water indoors
- Visible roof damage
- Leaks around fuse box or other wiring
- Multiple ceiling leaks
- More storms or high winds in the immediate weather forecast
Temporary Repairs You Can Do Yourself
If you determine your roofing problems aren’t an emergency, you can make quick do-it-yourself (DIY) fixes while waiting for permanent repairs. Prioritize your safety and never walk on a wet roof or one you suspect has sustained structural damage.
Depending on the damage type and extent, here are some supplies you might need:
- Lumber (or other heavy objects)
- Replacement shingles
- Roofing cement, caulk, or rubber sealant
- Roofing nails
- Waterproof tarp
Steps to temporarily repair a leaky roof.
- Start with proper ladder and roof safety. Set the ladder’s feet about 3 feet away from the roof’s edge and secure the top if possible. Wear non-slip shoes and secure any items you bring up with you. Don’t climb on the structure if you have any doubts about its structural integrity.
- Document the damage, even if you’re unsure whether you’ll file an insurance claim. Take pictures if possible.
- The simplest fix involves spreading a tarp over the affected area and weighing it down with lumber or other weighty material. Ensure one tarp edge is secured on the opposite side of the roof’s peak so water can’t run underneath the tarp.
- If the damage is a small puncture, fill it with epoxy, roofing cement, or rubber sealant. Brush any granules or debris away from the hole, and use the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If you spot loose or missing shingles, secure them or replace them using extra shingles you may have lying around. Take care when inserting roofing nails, as you don’t want to cause further punctures. It may be better to use sealant.
- Call your insurance company to begin the claims process. They’ll assign an adjuster to help you with the next steps.
- If you’re not using insurance, schedule a roof inspection, or call a local roofing contractor to perform permanent repairs.
Professional vs. DIY Roof Leak Repair
Apart from small, temporary fixes, a licensed roofing company should perform emergency roof leak repairs. Roofing systems are complex and vital for protecting the whole house, so even if the problem appears to be fixed with a little epoxy, you’ll need to call in professionals eventually. They’re trained to spot damage that you might miss, and they’ll know how to fix problems under roof shingles or other surface roofing materials. The consequences of unchecked water damage are serious and expensive, so it pays to hire licensed roofers as soon as possible.
Emergency Roof Repair Costs
Here’s what you can expect to pay to have your roof repaired based on your roof’s size and material, the extent of damage, and other factors.
Temporary Repair Costs
Temporary fixes are generally inexpensive. If you do them yourself, you’ll only pay for materials. For example, you can purchase a tarp at most home improvement stores for $10 to $50. Professional roof patching, which is only a temporary solution, costs between $100 and $1,000.*
Permanent Repair and Replacement Costs
Professional leaking roof repair costs between $360 and $1,550. Here are common cost ranges for specific fixes.
- Flashing repair: $200–$500
- Gutter repair: $180–$560
- Hail damage repair: $700–$4,000
- Skylight leak repair: $300–$800
- Total roof replacement with asphalt shingles: $5,800–$12,600
- Vent leak repair: $75–$250
This pricing applies to nonemergency repairs. If you need emergency repair, the price can easily double.
Factors Influencing Roof Repair Costs
Repair costs will depend on these factors.
- Roof materials: Asphalt shingles are generally the least costly materials to replace. Metal roof costs and tile roof costs will be higher.
- Extent of damage: The larger the affected area, the more it will cost. The cost will increase if water damage is discovered in the underlayment and decking.
- Cause of leak: Leaks around vents and skylights may be repairable with new sealant or flashing. However, wear and blunt force damage to shingles usually requires more materials and labor.
- Season: In times and places where weather events like rainstorms, tornadoes, or hurricanes are frequent, roofers will be more in demand and often charge more, especially for emergency repairs.
- Homeowner’s insurance coverage: If the leak is caused by a covered event, which usually includes storm damage and fire damage, you will only be responsible for the deductible.
How to Hire a Professional
When comparing local roofing companies, here are some things to keep in mind.
- All states require roofers to have specific roofing licenses. Make sure the company’s license is current.
- Ask for proof that contractors are bonded and insured.
- Look up the company on the Better Business Bureau website. You’ll see how long the company’s been in business, how it’s rated, whether it’s accredited, and whether they have any outstanding customer complaints.
- Ask for references and search for customer reviews on sites like Trustpilot.
- Get quotes from at least three local roofers.
- When possible, get itemized estimates and make sure you understand the project’s timeline.
Preventing Future Roof Leaks
Once your roof has been repaired, keep up with regular maintenance to avoid similar problems in the future.
Roofs require upkeep. Specific tasks will differ based on roofing material, but here are some general tips.
- Keep gutters and downspouts clear of clogs and debris. Have your gutters professionally cleaned at least once a year.
- Prune overhanging tree branches.
- Check vents periodically to ensure the roof is properly ventilated.
- Fix leaks and other problems as soon as you notice them to prevent widespread damage. Treat any algae, moss, or mold growth as soon as possible.
- After a storm, visually inspect your roof from the ground for obvious signs of damage. Check for pooled water after rain and for ice dams after snow.
- After the roof is about five years old, get a professional roof inspection once a year.
When to Replace a Roof
All roofs will need replacing at some point. While roof replacement expenses are steep, they may be necessary to protect your investment in your home. Here are signs it’s time for a new roof.
- Shingles are curled, cracked, or bald.
- You notice sagging or other signs of severe structural damage.
- Moss or algae is growing on the roof.
- Your asphalt shingle roof is 15 to 20 years old.
- You want to sell your home.
If you spot a roof or ceiling leak in your home, address it immediately. Secure your safety, contain the water, and then do your best to determine the problem’s urgency. We recommend calling for emergency roof leak repair if the water is actively running, if your home’s wiring may be affected, or if more storms are on the way. Professional roofers can stop the leak to prevent damage from compounding.
Emergency Roof Leak Repair FAQ
Is a ceiling leak an emergency?
A ceiling leak is an emergency if the water spot is larger than a few inches across, there are multiple leak spots, there’s puddled or running water, or the wiring is compromised.
How do you temporarily stop a roof leak?
Putting a tarp over the affected area and weighing it down is the quickest and easiest way to stop water from getting in through the roof.
Can you fix a leaking roof from the inside?
If you have access to your unfinished attic and you find the leak’s source, you can use a patch kit as a temporary fix.
What is the best way to repair a leaking roof?
Small puncture holes can be patched or filled with epoxy or roofing cement, but cracked or missing shingles should be covered with a tarp until a roofer can make a permanent repair.
What are the signs that you need to fix a leaky roof?
Here are some signs that your roof needs leak repair.
Damaged, loose, or missing shingles
Damaged or missing flashing
Water stains on ceiling or walls
Sound of running or dripping water
Mold or mildew
How can I repair a roof leak in the attic?
Small leaks can be temporarily repaired with patches or epoxy, but larger leaks require covering the roof with a tarp. Regardless of the leak’s size, you should hire a licensed roofer to make permanent repairs.