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Minimize Water Damage to Your Home

Noticing a roof leak in your home can be a scary discovery.  Here are a few tips to help minimize the effects of water damage on your belongings.  These steps can be completed while you are waiting for your roof repair contractor to arrive onsite.

Minimizing Damage Inside Your Building

Funnel the Water Flow – If the ceiling is holding water, use a screwdriver or pen and poke a hole in the center of the bulge. This will funnel the water to that one spot saving the ceiling and helping to collect the water in one stream.

Collect Water – Obviously, pots and buckets work well, but the best thing to use on large leaks is your garbage pail, provided by your local Waste Management. These pails have a larger capacity than most other types of buckets – as well as wheels, making it easier to empty.

Protect Belongings – If there are any items in the room that could be damaged by moisture, either move the articles off of the ground or into a different (dry) room.  This should eliminate much of the worry associated with damaged furniture or other belongings.

Minimizing Damage on the Roof Top

As roof leaks occur, it becomes necessary to attend to the source of the problem: the roof top. Each type of roof requires a different strategy for minimizing damage and completing temporary or permanent repair solutions.

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Here is an overview of some of the weak points of each roof system, as well as some of the more common emergency repair tactics.

NOTE: Be careful to not walk on your roof surface. All wet roofs are slippery, and some “dry” roofing may be slippery due to algae or mildew.  Rotted decking is often hidden from sight by the roof material and can collapse under human weight.  Pipes and vents can cause tripping – and metal roofs are very slippery at all times.  If you have a flat roof section, it is advised to set up the ladder there as it is easier to get on/off a ladder from a flat surface.

Tile Roof

Tiles do not stop water from entering the roof system. The true water barrier is the underlayment, aided by flashing. Because of this, trying to seal tile cracks will not stop the leak in most cases.

If it is impractical to cover the area for the cause of a roof leak, look for common leak areas:

  • Penetrations
  • Walls
  • Skylights
  • Valley
  • Chimneys

If these are nearby or just above where the leak is entering, they may be the cause of water seepage. Tiles are easily removed and replaced, but care must be taken not to damage the underlayment when removing tiles. After tiles are removed, the area should be inspected for cracks, separation, holes, etc. where the water could be entering.

Metal Roof

Metal roofs are much easier to investigate for leaking issues. In most cases, the leak is caused from one of three areas:

  1. Fasteners: As screws age, their washer deteriorates. Simply seal the entire fastener using silicone caulking. This is only a temporary repair and will rust out the metal if not fixed properly.
  2. Penetrations: Any area where a hold is cut through the metal panels is a potential leak. If not flashed correctly, these areas may cause leaks, even with sealants. Although adding sealant may stop the leak temporarily, the sealants must be cleaned to avoid trapping moisture, which will cause rust.
  3. Seam and Flashing Overlaps: Where two metal flashings or panels overlap there is a chance for water to “wick” up the transition and cause seepage.

Shingle Roof

On pitched roofs, it is best to cover the affected area with plastic or a tarp. Make sure the tarp is extended over the ridgeline. Otherwise water will simply run under the tarp and continue to leak.

To hold down the tarp, feel free to use any type of fastener you may have on hand. As a roofer, it is very easy for us to replace those shingles and seal the hole. You will not be creating new leaks as long as the fastener stays secure. For this task, screws often work the best.

Flat Roof

Tarps and plastic are rarely a good way to stop water seepage on these roof types – since most flat roofs have either a pitch roof or parapet/mansard at the perimeter, the water will simply flow under the tarp.

The best way to stop water is to broom sitting water off the roof and look for areas of cracking or separation. Obvious areas of concern are perimeter flashings, boots, vents, pitch pans, tie-ins to pitch roofs or walls and drains.

Drains are almost impossible to temporarily repair due to the fact that the entire roof’s watershed is designed to flow towards the drain. If the roof drains are causing the leak, a full repair project may be the only solution.

Temporary Sealants for roof leak repairs:

These items can provide a temporary solution for a leaking roof, helping to keep the interior of your home dry while waiting for permanent repairs to take place. 

  • Silicone (or another type of caulking)
  • Glue
  • Plastic Roof Cement
  • Tarps
  • Visqueen
  • Garbage Bags
  • Duct Tape (or another type)
  • Doe (1 cup warm water 4 cups flour. Heat for a few minutes so still tacky, yet stiff on the outside. Use to form over leak areas)


Kelly Roofing provides emergency roof repair services for roofs in Florida.

Contact us for help with your roof leak.