The last thing any homeowner ever wants to learn is that their roof is failing them. Whether it’s springing a leak, getting moldy, losing shingles, or even letting in pests, a roof in disrepair is always causing some sort of major headache for the family it’s supposed to be protecting. If your roof starts leaking, you’ll want to schedule an emergency roof repair with your neighborhood contractor, but until they arrive, you may need to do a temporary roof repair yourself to minimize any damage in the house. If your roofers are booked, or if it’s a holiday and you can’t reach them, it’s up to you to keep your home protected until somebody can come and help.
Note: Here at Elite Remodeling Services, we’re experts who spend our entire lives scaling rooftops. However, as a homeowner, you probably don’t get up onto your roof very often, yourself. DIY roofing is very dangerous, because you can cause damage to the roof, or fall and seriously injure yourself.
Always practice the buddy system when getting up onto the roof so that you’re never at risk of injury when you’re alone. Additionally, move slowly, don’t step anywhere that you aren’t sure can handle your body weight, don’t step on uneven surfaces, and use a harness if you have one available. And, it should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. Never get up onto the roof unless it is completely dry! A wet roof is a hazard, and you’ll have trouble working with a wet surface, anyway. If you’re just not feeling safe and comfortable, stop reading right now and call us to help instead. Get some buckets under an indoor leak if you have to. And, don’t worry, we have a suggestion for you to make a temporary emergency roof repair even from the ground.
Covering Your Roof
What You’ll Need:
- Outdoor use tarp
- Heavy twine/rope to fit tarp grommets
- Heavy ground anchors (permanent structures, not weights)
- 1-2 people to help
- A ladder
If you’re going to do some DIY roofing, the simplest and most common way to temporarily “repair” your roof is to simply cover over the damaged portion with a big plastic tarp. It’s important that you use one large piece of tarp, not several smaller ones, and that it’s a tarp designed for outdoor usage. You want to get the tarp spread across the roof nice and flush. Smooth it over, and then nail the side in place. You can use roofer’s cement to help prevent water from getting in around these nails.
If you aren’t comfortable nailing into your roof, many tarps come with grommets around the edge which you can use to tie it down into place. If you go this route, there are a few things to keep in mind. Don’t simply place heavy bricks or weights around the edge of the tarp; they may slip and become more of a hazard than a help. Instead, use some rope or strong twine to tie each grommet down to a sturdy location. And sturdy means sturdy; even a 40 pound object can be lifted away by heavy winds and create a life-threatening hazard. Tie your tarp down to tree trunks, poles, and fences, and your temporary roof repair is complete.
From the Ground
If you just can’t get up onto your roof, you can still hoist a tarp over the top of the house by employing a little bit of creativity. Before you string up your tarp, tie off a tennis ball with some long, lightweight string that will drape over both sides of the house. Pick your family member with the strongest arm, and hurl the ball overtop of the house where you need to cover over.
Then, you can attach the rope for your tarp to one end of the string, and pull the other end to hoist it up onto the roof. Then, repeat for as many grommets on the tarp as necessary. This method is crude and far less accurate. But, if you can’t get up onto the roof, it’s better to get a cover over as much of the damage as you can no matter how you have to do it.
Fixing Minor Shingle Damage
If you’re only facing a smaller and more isolated problem, it may be something you can repair yourself. For any shingles that are loosening or hanging, you can reattach them yourself if you can access them safely. You can stick them down with some roofer’s cement and nail them down firmly. Put more cement over the top of the nail and cover it completely. Also, check around the seams in your roof and apply some more cement to any areas that are split, cracked, or appear to be weathered.
Got any shingles that are starting to curl? You can heat them up slowly and re-adhering them to the roof, also using the roofer’s cement. Just the same as before, nail the shingles down where they began to detach and cement over again.
Missing shingles altogether? Just one or two? If you want to do a more-than-temporary roof repair, you can measure your shingles and pick some up at your local supplier. When you’re up on the roof, apply cement along the edge of the shingle, slip it up under the shingle above the spot you’re patching, and attach firmly. Once again, nail into place, and put more cement over the nails. It’s entirely possible that, if you do it right, your temporary roof repair will be near as effective as a professional fix.
Still, even if you’re pretty sure you’ve done a good job with your temporary roof repair, it’s a good idea to check with a pro. Schedule an inspection with your neighborhood roofing contractors at Elite Remodeling Services to make sure your roof gets the permanent fix you need.