How to Temporarily Patch a Roof Leak Until the Pros Can Help

Doesn’t it seem like roof leaks happen at the worst times like over a weekend, a holiday, or when relatives or visiting?  Roof leaks are frustrating and sometimes inevitable with an old roof, so when the dripping happens at the most inconvenient time, what can you do?

Luckily, there are a few methods to temporarily repair your leaking roof in case you can’t get a professional on site to do the job for you.  The key word in these fixes is “temporary” because you’ll definitely need a professional to patch up your roof with durable materials and trained techniques.

Plastic Sheeting

A hole in the roof means dripping water and one cheap and easy method of a quick fix is grabbing some plastic sheeting.  Plastic sheets aren’t expensive, they’re available at your local hardware store, and there’s a good chance you might already have this material lying around in your basement, attic, or garage.

Place the plastic sheeting over the hole in the roof (follow roof safety guidelines when you climb up there like using sturdy boots, having a friend spot you, and never going up when it’s unsafe or unstable).  You’ll want to secure the sheeting with something heavy like bricks or other weighted objects.  You can even nail the plastic sheeting with wood strips if the hole is large, or for smaller openings, simply use duct tape.

DIY Patching

If you can’t get a professional out to your place for a while, you can patch the hole yourself.  Plugging, or patching, I s done by mixing water with a powder that’s chemically similar to cement, then pouring it in the exposed opening.  You can pick up this product at any large home improvement stores for a DIY fix.  The mixture dries to a solid, which in turn stops water from leaking through the opening.  You should note that while this seems to be a thorough patch job, it doesn’t last forever.

Roofing Tape

Similar to patching, you can use a product known as roofing tape to fix gaps or openings.  Roofing tape can be applied from the inside of your attic, which is helpful if the roof is too dangerous to traipse across.  Roofing tape goes onto the roof’s decking and it will it keep water out, but not totally prevent it from entering the inside of your home.

There are other adhesive options similar to roofing tape that are designed for smaller leaks, but be wary of what season you’re working in.  Some tapes and adhesive patches have temperature ranges that can limit what type of weather you can use them in.


If you’ve ever painted, had a greasy or oily project, needed to protect furniture or carpet, then you probably have a tarp or two lying around your house.  Tarps come in handy when the roof leaks and you can’t do a DIY patch job or won’t have a professional out for some time.  Securing a tarp to an unwanted opening on your roof is an easy, inexpensive quick fix that can help stop water from seeping into your home.

Simply smooth the tarp over the entire area that’s leaking, creating a taunt surface.  Nail down the edges (or alternatively, you could tie down tarp or use duct tape) so it’s secure and won’t be blown off by a strong gust of wind or storm.  If there’s a lot of water pouring in, you may need to layer the tarps for extra protection.

DIY Shingles

You can make your shingles if the situation calls for it.  If you have copper, sheet metal, or another strong material that can serve as a makeshift shingle, then all you need to do is to cut the material to the size and shape of the exposure.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to get you by until a roofing professional can do the real deal.  This is a good solution if you might be facing some severe weather before you can have a contractor come out to fix missing shingles or an opening in your roof.

Tar Paper & Roofing Felt

If plastic sheeting or tarps won’t cut it, then you can always do a more involved DIY patch job with tar paper and roof felt.  It’s a good idea to keep some plastic roofing cement in case of these roofing emergencies.  This roofing cement can be applied to tar paper with a trowel, putty knife, or a caulk gun.

You can layer up the tar paper, alternating between the tar paper and the spread of cement.  Adding roofing felt makes for another layer of protection between the shingles and roof decking for when you need a more durable temporary solution to keep water out.

Replacing your roof can be a expensive upgrade to your home. Let us help you in making that decision. At Feldco, we provide a breakthrough design and triple layer protection to keep your roof healthy for what mother nature decides to throw at it.  For a roof replacement, our installers are factory trained, experienced and professional to get the job done right. Speak to a product specialist and get a free quote online today.

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