Assessing and Repairing Leaky Roofs Safely Fixing a Watery Problem **pdf

by University of Wisconsin Madison - Extension

You may be anxious to stop a roof from leaking, but don't risk serious injury trying to inspect or repair it. First, try binoculars for a closer view. Next, check the attic for a drip trail. Leaks are rarely located directly above the water spot on the ceiling. When you find a leak in the attic, push a nail, straw or wire through it to help you or a repair person locate it outside.

If rain continues to be a problem and a repair person is unavailable, follow the directions at right for temporary relief. But be sure that only a physically able person gets on the roof for these emergency measures. Unsteadiness on the ladder or roof can lead to severe injuries.


Cover holes in the roof, walls or windows with boards, tarps or plastic sheeting. Nail down plastic sheets or trash bags with strips of wood and secure them with duct tape. If the holes are large, you may need to support the plastic in the center to keep it from ripping from the weight of the rain.

If sections of the roof or floors are sagging, have a contractor or other knowledgeable person brace weak areas. Improper bracing may increase damage and the chance of injury, so do not attempt this work unless you are experienced in structural repairs.


Storm and wind damage are responsible for some roof problems. Others are caused by defective materials, faulty construction or gradual deterioration. Here are some common causes of leaks:


Methods of repair will depend on the kind of roofing and the nature and extent of the leak. Unless you are experienced, hire a professional roofer for this work. Missing shingles should be replaced, holes repaired and cracks filled. Whatever method is used, avoid walking on patched sections.

Additional resources:

Your county family living agent, your local emergency government office, the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency

Related publications:

"Repairing Your Flooded Home," American Red Cross/Federal Emergency Management Agency, 1992.


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