Leaky Roof Repair Tips

Rain on a roof.

A leaky roof is a stressful situation and one that can turn into a watery nightmare and costly repair if not addressed quickly. However, sometimes a homeowner isn’t aware there’s a problem until telltale signs appear.

Exterior Causes of a Leaking Roof

Roofing materials come in all shapes and sizes, and one of the most popular roof coverings is asphalt shingles. Easy to install and less expensive than other types such as tile or metal, they’re durable and last anywhere from 20 to 25 years. For example purposes, asphalt will be the material discussed when looking for exterior signs that could be causing an interior leak.

While asphalt is strong, there are a list of things that can create small to medium-sized holes in your roof that can lead to leaking, and ultimately wood rot, if not repaired.

Damaged Shingles

A roof with damaged shingles.

A shingle that is past its prime will not have the same strength it once had and is more susceptible to damage than one that's still new.

Missing Shingles

Whether cutting tree limbs, pressure washing, or painting, access to the roof may be necessary. Too much traffic on the material can lead to loosened shingles. The material may also become dislodged due to nature, severe weather, and age.


A pigeon on a gutter.

Birds love to peck and in doing so, their beak can pierce the shingle and the underlayment, resulting in a leak.

Mother Nature

An overhanging tree branch that repeatedly “hits” against the shingle will eventually lead to the creation of a hole in the shingle and damage to the underlayment, allowing water to seep down between the two materials and create a link.

Sealed Seams

Another point of entry is at the base of a chimney where the roofing shingles are flush with the chimney stack. If not sealed properly, water seeps in under the roofing material, running down the slope of the roof where it pools and causes a leak.


This metal strip is installed around pipe vents, intersecting walls, and chimneys. If missing or damaged, leaks can occur.

Interior Signs of a Leaking Roof

A ceiling with water damage.

If signs of interior leaking are present, be aware that finding the actual spot where the water is entering may be difficult. A leak may occur on the slope of the roof and run the length of the house to another location before it begins soaking the walls or ceiling with visible signs. The “sign” of the leak may not be the originating point.

Several things to look for include:

  • Stained ceiling tiles, which can be one large stain or a series of smaller stains
  • Water stains running down the length of a wall
  • Dripping water from the ceiling, wall seams, and light fixtures
  • A moldy smell which may be emanating from the attic due to soggy insulation
  • Signs of mold and mildew on ceilings and walls
  • Cracks in the drywall

Roof Maintenance

It’s easy to forget a roof is subjected to many negative elements and sometimes one of those elements causes a leaky mess. Preventing situations is not always an option, but being aware of potential problems allows you to create a periodic maintenance checklist so you’re not caught off guard.

Maintenance Checklist

A tree limb that crashed on a roof.

  1. Periodically check the roof for fallen tree limbs and branches that may have punctured the roofing material, especially after a storm that generates high winds. Also, look for damaged, loose, or missing roofing materials.
  2. Keep tree branches trimmed so they can't connect with the roof.
  3. Use caution when accessing the roof and keep traffic to a minimum.
  4. Sweep or use a blower periodically to remove leaves and debris to prevent buildup that can damage roofing material.
  5. Inspect soffits to ensure they’re connected properly to the roof.
  6. If any issue is found, repair it immediately.

Depending on the severity of the leak, it’s possible to do minor repair work that may include resealing seams, replacing damaged flashing, securing soffits, and using a roofing compound material to plug small holes.