Emergency Repairs for a Leaking Roof

This article will give suggestions on how to temporarily fix a leak in a roof. This is meant for situations where you cannot get a professional there right away, and something needs to be done now. But these are only temporary fixes, and should be considered the same as putting a spare tire on your car. It’s not meant for long car trips, just until you can see a mechanic!


The first thing you need to do when fixing a leaky roof is to protect yourself. Do not attempt to fix a roof when the bad weather that has instigated the leak is still ravaging on. Wait until rain and winds have subsided. This hopefully sounds like common sense. Instead, focus on what you can do to protect the inside of the building. Grab those buckets and plastic wastepaper baskets and catch the water beneath where it is leaking. For larger leaks, if you have access to a heavy plastic sheet or tarp, string it up to where the water collects on the sheet first, and then empties into a container.


If your building has a flat roof and the weather is permitting, go up and see if the water is ponding anywhere and then attempt to remove it with a push broom. No matter what type of roof you have, make sure the gutters and drains are free of debris so that water that is trying to drain properly doesn’t have any obstructions.

Locate the Leak

If you can pinpoint the source of the leak, you have a better chance of finding ways to stop it. If you find the leak inside, go to the exterior of the roof at that location and see where the water is entering. It is common for areas around mechanical equipment housed on the roof to create leaks. Likewise, flashing used to deflect water away from chimneys or other structures that protrude out of the roof may have leaks. Single-ply membrane roofs might have cuts, punctures or splits at the points where the material was chemically bonded together (seams).

Temporary Patches


BUR (built-up roofs) can be temporarily fastened with patches. This is something that can be done once the storm is over, not as a quick fix during the actual downpour. Use plastic roof cement. This comes in rain or wet patch grades and is a trowel type of substance. You’ll want to clear off any loose gravel from the BUR materials and then apply the cement six inches wider than the area of the leak. Use pressure and fill the area fully.

Single-Ply Membrane

For single-ply membrane roofs, it is better to use sealant and roof tape. Clean the area thoroughly with alcohol or other cleansers. If it is dirty, the adhesive won’t stick. Then press the roof tape on with strong pressure.


Avoid using liquid or pourable asphalt repair products as they don’t work as well, and actually will make the professional repairman’s job harder. And that will end up costing you more money in the long run.

Remember, these are quick fixes to hold you over until a professional repairman can do a proper repair. And since all roofing materials are not the same, if you do have access to information about repairing your specific type of roof, make sure to follow it exactly to prevent more damage.

For more information about leak repairs, contact a commercial roofing repair contractor near you. If you are in Georgia, Atlanta commercial roofing can help you find solutions to your needs.

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