How To Stop A Roof Leak In The Rain

Raining and your roof is leaking? Discover temporary fixes to minimize damage until a full repair is possible
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Reviewed by JC Sanjuan — General and roofing contractor with over a decade of experience in residential and commercial construction. He specializes in project management, quality workmanship, client satisfaction, and solving roofing challenges.

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The sound of dripping water during a heavy rainstorm is enough to send a shiver down any homeowner’s spine. A roof leak is a stressful situation, but it’s important to act quickly to contain the damage. While it’s tempting to rush up on the roof in the pouring rain, safety comes first.

This guide will show you how to take emergency measures to stop a roof leak while it’s raining and help minimize the damage until a professional repair can be made.

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1. Find the Source of the Leak

Climbing a ladder into an open attic

Safety Note: If the rain is particularly severe or you’re uncomfortable on your roof, wait until the storm subsides to attempt a close inspection. In the meantime, skip to Section 2 for temporary containment measures.

First, Head to the Attic

Rotting due to humidity and growth of molds wooden roof structures

Grab a flashlight and start looking for signs of water. These could be:

  • Water stains on the roof decking or insulation
  • Actively dripping water
  • Wet spots or mold

Common Trouble Spots

Pay close attention to areas around your chimney, roof vents, flashing, and any valleys where roof sections meet.

Track It Back

If the leak isn’t immediately obvious, look at where the water is pooling inside your house and try to follow its path upwards.

2. Temporary Fixes

Roof Patch
Leak Stopper Rubberized Roof Patch By Gardner

For small cracks or holes, particularly around flashing, apply a generous amount of roofing tar. Roofing tar can often be applied even on a wet surface — Check the product instructions.

Roofing Cement/Wet Patch Popular Brands:

Tarp Time

If you suspect a larger damaged area, cover it with a heavy-duty plastic tarp. Secure the tarp with weights like sandbags or bricks. Avoid nailing directly into the roof during the rain.

Contain the Leak

Inside your house, place buckets or containers strategically to catch the dripping water and prevent damage to floors and belongings.

2. When the Rain Stops

Air it Out

As soon as it’s safe, open windows and use fans to get airflow into the attic space to dry things out.

Thorough Inspection

Climb up on the roof (again, safety first!) and carefully examine the area where the leak occurred. Look for missing or damaged shingles, cracked flashing, or any other obvious signs of damage.

Call in the Pros

If the damage seems extensive or you’re not comfortable making the repairs yourself, don’t hesitate to call a reputable roofing contractor.

3. Prevention Tips

roof patches in asphalt shingle roof

Maintain and Inspect

Regular roof inspections and cleaning, especially before storm season, can catch small issues before they become leaks.

Seal it Up

Check the flashing around vents, chimneys, and skylights for any gaps. Seal any cracks with roofing caulk or tar.

Age Matters

Be aware of your roof’s age and expected lifespan. If it’s getting close to needing replacement, be proactive to avoid major leaks down the line.

Conclusion

Remember, the fixes in this guide are meant to get you through the rainstorm. Don’t delay having a professional permanently repair your roof to avoid further water damage and more costly problems.

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