How to Repair Roof and Chimney Leaks


A leaking roof or chimney can lead to all sorts of problems. If you catch the leak in time, you can usually make a simple repair. However, if the roof leaks in multiple places or the leaky spot continues to grow, you may have serious repairs to consider. If you have basic carpentry skills and aren't afraid of heights, you should be able to repair roof leaks. Keep in mind that different roofs require different repair techniques as well as different skill sets for the person doing the repairs.

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Roof cement
  • Putty knife
  • Patching fabric
  • Shingles
  • Roofing nails
  • Hammer
  • Locate where the roof leaks. Set a ladder so you can get on the roof. Determine if there are missing shingles that may be causing leaks. Cracks and tears on shingles may also lead to leaks. Anywhere there is a roof penetration or two dissimilar materials joining is a likely place for a leak to develop. Valleys are another area to check. Pay attention to the flashing around the chimney or skylights. Once you finish your outdoor inspection go into the attic to look for signs of leakage that you might miss from outside.

  • Replace any damaged flashing especially around chimneys and air vents. Use a putty knife to apply roof cement to areas around flashing that are leaking. Put down a layer of roof cement. Feather the edges out over the shingles to seal it and allow for good drainage.

  • Repair any damaged or rotten wood on the roof before proceeding with repairs. While you can do temporary patches, you can't expect them to hold for long.

  • Slide a bit of roof cement under a loose shingle tab. Replace any missing nails and cover them with roof cement. Place split shingles or patch with roof cement. Feather the edges on the patch as you did around the flashing.

  • Remove old, damaged shingles and enough of the nearby shingles to enable you to fix the leak. Set new water barrier along with the new shingles. Cover nails with roof cement.

  • Apply roof cement along cracks in a flat roof. Put patching fabric into the roof cement and cover the fabric with another layer of cement. Feather the edges to get a good seal. If the roofing material has blisters causing the leak, cut out the blister. Use two separate layers of patching fabric and three layers to cement to make the repair.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be careful as you work on a roof with a steep pitch. A wet or damp roof is especially slippery.

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