Temporary fixes for a leaky roof. If you are searching this on google, it means that you are probably dealing with potential or are experiencing roof damage because of water leaks. Please note the fixes we are talking about in this article are meant to fix minor damages and are temporary fixes in case of emergencies. Do contact your local roofing company immediately after to have them access the extent of the damage. You do not want small issues to become bigger after some time. If you are in the Midwest, then contact Oscar Roofing. We can provide assistance not only in repairing your roof, but can handle insurance claims or do complete replacements, if necessary.

Now, let’s get to the temporary fix repairs.

Items You Can Use For a Leaky Roof

  1. Water Proof Tarps
  2. Tar Paper
  3. Shingles
  4. Patching or plugging
  5. Silicone or Caulk
  6. Roofing Cement
  7. Roofing pipe or flashing boot

Signs Your Roof Has Damage

Roof leaks can be evident after many weeks or even months of small amounts of water pooling in. One sure way to know if you have any damage is to climb up to the attic and see if there’s mold or mildew buildup or uneven, sagging parts of the roof. These are one of the first signs of damage. If you see water stains or actual leaks, then the problem has been present for a while and is now evident.

We recommend to try to rule out other causes that could be making your roof leak, such as clogged gutters or plumbing issues before deciding to repair your own roof temporarily.

6 Temporary Fixes for Leaky Roofs


Water Proof Tarps

Using water proof tarps is one of the easiest and quickest fix during an emergency roof leak. The first step is to locate the area of water entry, either from outside or inside. Once you have found it, grab a ladder, safety gear and the tarp and cover the area carefully. Using roofing nails, nail the tarp down along the edges or use duct tape. Make sure the tarp is secure and won’t be able to be blown off by strong winds or storms.

Before getting down the roof, we recommend to make sure that the tarp covers the entire area and lays flat against the roof. Make sure there are no gaps water can get in through. If you think one tarp is not enough, then use two. An extra layer always helps to make sure things are secure.

Steps to set up a tarp:

  1. Make sure to spread the tarp evenly over the damage area
  2. Once the tarp is laid down flat and without creases, use small bricks or another heavy material as weights in each corner.
  3. Start from the top of the roof or highest part of your roof. Secure the upper corner section with roofing nails or screws
  4. Once this corner is secure, move to the opposite side and work your way down
  5. Remove the weights as you secure the areas



Tar Paper

Tar paper is made of fiberglass mat and tar, hence its name. Its similar to  roofing felt is paper that roofers used before as underlayments during roof installations. While not commonly used today, it can be a good tool to have during emergency roof leaks. The reason these are not used as underlayments anymore is because, over time, these can get moisture damage and not serve the purpose of protecting the roof’s decking. They will start to crinkle and fray after too much water damage. The fibers that make up the tar paper will break down. Nowadays, a synthetic paper is used that does not rip or is affected by indoor moisture.

Use a caulking gun(if you have one) or a putty knife to pin down the tar paper. You can also use roofing felt if you have some, as an extra layer on top. Other materials you can use to place down the tar paper include roof cement.



Replacement/Temporary Shingles

If you find that the source of water entry is due to loose, broken or curly shingles then the best course of action is to remove these and install new ones. Using a flat pry bar, remove the shingles carefully. Make sure to clean the area of any left over nails or shingle parts before nailing down new shingles.

This is a great way to stop the exposure of your roof to more water, however, you should contact a professional roofer to take a look in case the roof is not correctly repaired. We go into more details on temporary shingle replacements here.



Patching consists of using roofing tape around the leak area. You can use almost any type of tape, however, we recommend a heavier type like the Thermacote. Tape is an easy fixture as it takes less time and effort to implement. Simply clean the area of damage, make sure its dry and clean. Then, cut the necessary length of tape and apply to the required area accordingly. Press firmly after instillation and use a hand roller to make sure there are no air bubbles.

Do keep in mind, if there are constant rain storms, the tape will start to loose on its grip over time and tear away.

Now for plugging. This is another great option which consists of combining plugging powder and water and applying it on top of the leak area. The mixture starts to dry and harden. It will not let water get in once its dry and properly placed.  A great temporary solution that buys some time, but will start to disintegrate over time. So you will have to repeat the process while you contact a roofing contractor.


Silicone or Caulking

Let’s say you found the issue and noticed its relatively small, so small in fact that its a small hole or gap between shingles. These could also be in your flashing or soffit areas. Then, luckily, the damage is not very big or might not require that much attention. Remove any old silicone/caulk  and clean the area, then apply fresh silicone or caulk around the troubled areas accordingly. Wait until its dry or apply more if necessary. This should stop the leaks immediately. Do keep in mind, this is a great solution for small gaps and any bigger holes require more attention.



Roofing Cement

Roofing cement is a strong adhesive made of asphalt, minerals and solvents. Not only can you use roofing cement to patch holes or leaks, you can also use it to secure your flashing, reattach shingles or repair the metal parts of your gutters.

An advantage of roofing cement is that you can apply it during emergency roof repairs while there is a storm or other type of inclement weather happening. This is due to the ability of roofing cement being able to adhere to wet surfaces. We do strongly recommend that unless you have to, please do not start any repairs while conditions are less than stellar. Its always advisable to conduct roof repairs during dry weather.

Once spread over the leaky area, roofing cement takes close to 2 hours to harden and around 24 hours to dry and completely seal the roof. There are many different types of cement to choose from, we recommend this one.



Roofing Pipe or Flashing Boot

If, after doing an inspection, you have noticed that the source of the leak is coming from around a pipe or multiple pipes, then its fair to say that you have a busted or cracked flashing boot. This happens due to regular tear and wear and the boots taking a beating from the elements, because the material is rubber, its easier for damage to occur over time. The steps to replace a boot include going to a store such as Home Depot or Lowe’s and finding a good match for your current boot pipes. Make sure the size is the correct one and that you have the appropriate tools for replacement.

Replacing a pipe boot:

  1. Remove shingles that surround the area. Be careful not to tear any of the shingles during removal. Start by loosening the nails carefully and pulling the shingles out
  2. Start by loosing the nails that are holding the old boot down and then remove the old boot. Clean the area around where the boot used to be before installing the new one
  3. Stick in the new boot down the pipe and secure it in place
  4. Reinstall the shingles that were removed, secure these tightly with nails at the edges
  5. Add caulk to the outside edges of the new pipe boot. We do this as reinforcement for both the boot and the shingles

Short-Term Roof Solutions

We hope that this article has provided enough information to help your short term roof solution. While these are good temporary fixes for leaky roofs, we cannot stress enough that calling a roofer is the best course of action, no matter the size of the damage. Some are even able to caulk or fix a small shingle problem the same day. Especially now that its winter and starting to snow in the Midwest, a roof emergency should not be taken lightly.

Contact Oscar Roofing if you are in the Bloomington, Carmel, Indianapolis, Fishers and surrounding areas. We are the premier roof repairing team at your service.