How to Make a Temporary Emergency Roof Repair

close-up of a damaged shingle roof

The Need for Emergency Repair

New Orleans, Louisiana is an entertaining, exciting, and fun city. It is also a city that has hurricanes coming from one direction and hailstorms from another direction. And both of those weather events bring hard, high winds. That’s why homeowners around and in New Orleans are accustomed to needing emergency roof repair

What qualifies as a roof repair emergency?

A roof that is damaged and leaving a part of the home exposed to the weather and other elements, qualifies as needing an emergency roof repair. The longer the attic and interior of a home is exposed and has a severe leak because of roof damage, the more damage is being done, creating a structural hazard.      

An emergency roof repair is intended to protect your home from the weather elements while waiting for a permanent roof repair to be completed. An emergency is deemed as such by how the living conditions in the home are affected and if the house is safe to be occupied. 

When is a roof leak considered an emergency?

The roof on your home is meant to provide protection for you, your family, and your belongings. When there is damage to the roof that has left a hole and rain is pouring in, you would consider that needing emergency roof repair, right? 

And most roofing contractors offer emergency roof repair, but how is the need for an emergency roof repair determined?  What is one person’s emergency may not be to a roofing contractor. So, what determines an emergency roof repair? 

A roof leak is deemed an emergency if the roof repair can’t wait, such as when water is profusely pouring into your home. Another example of when emergency roof repair is needed is if there is a large, damaged area on the roof, such as a spot where a tree has hit the roof.  This type of damage weakens the entire roof and puts your home in structural danger. If your home is now exposed to the elements in any way, this is considered in need of an emergency roof repair. 

Other things that may lead to a need for emergency roof repair may include: 

  • Shingles Missing in A Large Area: One or two missing shingles isn’t going to be considered within the “emergency” arena. However, if there are several shingles missing on the roof, this can signify the need for an emergency roof repair. However, having one or two missing shingles should be addressed sooner than later, or it can develop into an emergency roof repair with a hard wind that will let rain under the remaining shingles. 
  • Roof Deck Rot: A roof deck with rot is a situation that may require emergency roof repair, especially if the rot is caused by moisture in the attic or improper ventilation. A rotted roof deck is a potential hazard to the structure of your home and should be addressed immediately. 
  • The Interior is Exposed to the Elements: If the 2 or 3 missing shingles has left any part of the interior exposed to the elements, this is considered an emergency roof repair. 

Can you fix a leaking roof in the rain?

The drywall of your home is probably already saturated by the time a leaking roof is noticed. So, if a roofing contractor can’t get there for an emergency roof repair, something needs to be done to stop any further damage. So, if you’re asking, “How can I temporarily cover a hole in my roof?” here are two ways to temporarily fix a leaking roof with a quick emergency roof repair: 

Emergency Roof Covering

  1. Using a roll of polyethylene plastic, create a cover over the attic by unrolling it so that it covers 4 feet on each side of the damage.
  2. Roll one end of that plastic around a 2x4x8 board and nail the plastic to the boards so it is sandwiched between two boards. 
  3. Position the wood along the eaves and stretch the plastic over the roof ridge, so that it is covering the leak. Staple the other end of the plastic to another 2x4x8 board and allow that plastic-wrapped 2x4x8 to hang over the roof ridge.

If it is going to be more than a day before a roofing contractor can get to you, and this is always a possibility when there has been widespread storm damage, the following will provide a patch job that will last longer than the above described covering.

Emergency Roof Patching

  1. Go into the attic and remove any wet drywall and insulation, then mop or soak up any standing water. Position a piece of plywood across the roof joists and place a bucket under where the water is dripping.
  2. Follow the leak to where the water is entering the roof, which isn’t necessarily where the water is dripping. Often rain will run down the roof rafters, so follow it upwards and you’ll probably find the leak from the roof decking. 
  3. Using plywood or a roofing shingle and roofing tar, create a patch by spreading the tar around the leak with a trowel. Then place the plywood or shingle over the hole and press.  Then spread tar around the edge of the shingle or wood with a putty knife. 
  4. In the attic, measure the distance between the leak and the gable and the roof ridge. Once the rain has stopped, get on the roof wearing rubber-soled shoes, and measure those same dimensions on the roof. Now, fortifying the shingle undersides with more roofing tar over the leaking area. 

As the homeowner, you should know what to do if water is coming through the ceiling to hold off any more damage until the roofing contractor arrives, or you can do a temporary patch yourself. 

  • Place a plastic tarp or towels where the leak is coming into your home. 
  • Place a bucket on it to catch the water. 
  • If there is a bulge where the water is building up, poke a hole in the ceiling, this will allow the water to drain so that the ceiling doesn’t cave in. 
  • Check the bucket frequently and empty it as needed. 

How do I temporarily cover missing shingles?

If you’re able to climb on your roof, this is a simple DIY project. But safety first, so if you’re not comfortable with getting on the roof, call a roofing contractor. To do it yourself, you need to shift and smooth the shingles back into place then you can use galvanized nails or staples and fasten them in place. 

In Closing – Before the Leaks Happen 

An emergency roof repair will go much smoother if you know who to call for emergency roof repair. Having your roof inspected by a professional roofing contractor every two to three years is recommended. This establishes a relationship between you and the contractor, putting them on your speed dial to contact in case of an emergency. 

If the roof is destroyed, call your insurance company right after the roofing contractor. Insurance companies have emergency teams that can come inspect the situation and determine if you need an emergency roof replacement instead of a repair.

shingle roof with two holes
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