How to Repair a Leaking Roof in Los Angeles

roof repairs on a small home

06 Dec 22

The rainy season has arrived in Los Angeles with normal precipitation predicted during December and heavier rain predicted in February. In expectation of heavier rains, here are some tips and advice you can read about to prepare, prevent, and repair leaking roofs.

Roofs experience significant wear and tear, and when they eventually have problems, it needs to be addressed quickly. In part, that is because it can lead to more serious damage if left unattended. The good news is that most minor problems can be solved without the need for a roofing professional

The general way to take care of a leaky roof is to find the origin of the leak, then do simple repairs depending on the type of roof. For shingles and shakes, you will want to replace those with serious damage. Rolled roofing will require you to patch it, while problems with joints will mean sealing or replacing based on the severity of the problem.

That being said, if you notice a lot of damage across the entire roof, you will want to contact Bumble Roofing. The same is true if you see structural damage or are dealing with a roof over 20 years old, which might require more extensive work.

asphalt shingle repair

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are used on a majority of homes today, in part because they are a very affordable option that lasts up to 30 years if taken care of properly. Moreover, they are not difficult to install and repair if you know what you are doing.

When dealing with a leaky roof composed of asphalt shingles, you should first check for damage above water stains visible within the house. You can then look for signs of wear and tear on the roof before moving on to straightening and reattaching any curled shingles.

If the issue is a crack, it can likely be repaired with sealant. On the other hand, broken or missing shingles will need to be replaced, which is a more involved repair than other issues.

Check for Damage Above Water Stains

There are a few ways to pinpoint the source of water damage from the inside. The first is to check for damage above water stains on your ceiling. However, you can also wait for it to rain and get an idea while it is actively leaking. Either way, it means going into your attic if you have one and looking for stains or mold.

Once you find signs of damage, take note of the location and look for the corresponding area on your roof. Just keep in mind that it will not always be accurate. If you have a slanted roof, you will want to look higher than the signs of damage since the water will run down.

Another option is to have someone help, with one of you running a hose and spraying water onto the roof for several minutes at various sections. The other can stay inside and watch for signs of water to narrow down the problem area.

check for repair leaks

Look for Signs of Wear and Tear

Once you have the area narrowed down, you can start looking at the roof for signs of wear and tear, including curled, cracked, or missing shingles. You will also want to check for gaps where the roofing meets vents or chimneys.

If you notice widespread issues that go beyond repairing a few shingles or sealing minor gaps, you might want to consider a larger fix. Patches of failing shingles and wear over large portions of the roof might mean you need to replace it, especially if it is more than 20 years old.

You might also run into moldy or rotten boards or trusses in the attic, which can be indicators of structural damage. If you see widespread damage in these areas, consider bringing in a professional as soon as possible.

streghten and reattach curled shingles

Straighten and Reattach Curled shingles

Assuming you do not see widespread damage that requires a bigger fix, you can start taking care of minor problems yourself, such as curled shingles. As time passes, an asphalt shingle might curl at the corners, but you can fix it rather easily.

To fix a curled shingle, smoothen it out before adding a bit of roof sealant beneath the corners using a caulk gun. After that, push it down and use a trowel to cover the edges with roofing cement.

One thing to take note of is that asphalt shingles are flexible and easier to work on when it is warm, but they are brittle in the cold. Therefore, if you are having a hard time due to brittle shingles, try warming them up using a blow dryer. Just do not use anything hotter to avoid damaging them.

repair a clean crack with roof sealtant

Repair Clean Cracks Using Sealant

Cracked shingles do not always need to be replaced, especially if the crack or tear is clean. If that is the case, you can place a bead of sealant beneath the damage using a caulk gun and press it down. After that, add another bead atop the crack and spread it over the edges of the crack using a putty knife.

If you want to mask the repair and make it look as natural as possible, you can collect some asphalt granules. You can find the granules on the roof or in the gutter, and they can be sprinkled on top of the sealant to match the color of the rest of the roof.

replace broken or missing shignles

Replace Broken/Missing Shingles

While curled and cracked shingles can be repaired quickly, broken and missing shingles take a bit more doing. The first thing you need to do is buy matching replacement shingles. Once you have what you need, use a pry bar to lift the front of the broken shingle, then do the same to the one above it.

Once both shingles are loosened, get the pry bar up under the one you are replacing, making sure to reach the nails keeping it secure. Apply pressure to loosen the nails before using the pry bar or a hammer to remove them. When removing the nails, keep in mind that you will have to remove those in the one above as well since they will run through both.

After you get rid of every nail, pull out the broken shingle and scrape the space below to get rid of the remaining roofing cement. If you are having trouble, remember you can use a blow dryer to soften any stiff shingles around the one you are replacing.

With the shingle removed, you will want to replace it with a new one. One thing you can do to make it easier is round the back corners with a utility knife, which will make it easier to slide in. Either way, push it into place and hammer nails into the corners, followed by replacing the nails in the shingle above.

Use 1 1/4-inch galvanized roofing nails for securing the shingles. You will also want to apply roofing cement with a trowel atop the nails and around the edges of the newly-installed shingle.

Rolled Roofing

Rolled roofing is a great choice if you want inexpensive roofing that is easy to install. However, it is prone to cracks and blisters over time, which you will want to repair since they will leak. While some problems can be fixed with roofing cement, you will need to use new roofing if the situation calls for it.

Search for Cracks or Blisters

Follow the same process as you would for any other leak, looking at the damage inside and finding the corresponding spot outside. Do not forget that a slanted roof could mean the damage is located higher up on the outside of the roof than what you see indoors.

Cracks are a common problem seen with rolled roofing, including tiny cracks around objects on your roof, like chimneys and vents. You will want to carefully look at joints and other objects as well. Small gaps and cracks under 1/4 of an inch in these areas can be mended with roofing cement. Bigger problems require patching.

You also want to look for open splits in the roofing and blisters or bubbles, which indicate that there is water or air collecting below. These problems will also require more extensive repairs, such as patching.

cut any blisters or bubbles to release air or water

Cutt Bubbles or Blisters

If you notice bubbles or blisters, you will want to release whatever is underneath. To do that, get rid of any debris around the area and then cut through the center of the bubble with a utility knife. When doing this, be careful not to affect the layers beneath the rolled roofing material, only cutting through the top layer.

If there is water within the bubble, absorb it and allow the area to dry for 12 to 24 hours. You can always use a dryer to speed up the process, but you will want to ensure it is absolutely dry before doing anything else.

While blisters and bubbles are common when there is a leak in rolled roofing, they will not always be present. If you do not see any, do not worry and simply move on to dealing with the tear.

Spread a generous amount of roofing cement under the split.

Spread Roofing Cement for Splits

Before you begin repairing a split or crack, check the condition of the roofing substrate below. If it shows signs of damage, it will need to be replaced before anything else. Otherwise, use a generous layer of roofing cement beneath the edges of the tear. The goal is to get the cement as deep as possible without further tearing the rolled roofing.

Once you have the cement where it needs to be, push it down. Then, secure the material further using 1 1/4-inch galvanized roofing nails on both sides of the mended tear in 3-inch intervals.

Replace Roofing Substrate

As mentioned above, any damaged roofing substrate will need to be replaced before you can make repairs to the roofing. Look for rot or holes, removing any section that appears damaged with a straightedge and a utility knife. The cut should be square or rectangular to make cutting a replacement piece easier. Additionally, look for and remove washers and screws that secure the substrate to the structure underneath.

When you are sure that everything is in order, cut a new piece to fit the space, which can be done using the removed piece as a guide. It should be made from high-density fiberboard, and you will want to secure it into place using 1 1/2-inch roofing screws with built-in hex washers.

Cover Repairs With New Roofing

If there was no need to repair the roofing substrate, patching is simple. Start by cutting a patch of your roofing material that is 12 inches wider and taller than the mended tear. Then, spread roofing cement across the tear and place the patch on top of it, pushing it down lightly. Finally, hammer in 1 1/4-inch galvanized roofing nails in 3-inch intervals.

On the other hand, if you had to replace the roofing substrate, you will first need to place layers of rolled roofing until it is even with the roofing around it. From there, it is the same process that involves cutting out a patch of rolled roofing 12 inches larger, securing it with cement, pushing it down, then hammering in roofing nails.

Apply Additional Roofing Cement

While the above repairs are great, you want to make sure no water will get through. To do that, use one final layer of roofing cement, which you will place around the entire repaired section. That means applying cement to the perimeter of the patch and over any nails, followed by feathering it to extend the coverage and make it smooth.

In the case of your rolled roofing being asphalt, use a layer of asphalt gravel on top of the cement to protect the roofing as it dries.

wood shakes

Wood Shakes

If you have a wood shake roof and notice leaking, the first step will still be finding the source of the leak. However, the process of removing and installing new shakes can be a bit more involved. You will have to split damaged shakes, use a hacksaw to cut any nails, and then cut and install a new shake.

Inspect the Roof for Damage

Like any other leak, you will track down the source of the damage by looking for the water stains inside. You can then use the location of the stains to estimate where the problem is on the roof above. When searching for damage on the roof, look for broken shakes, gaps around flashing, and the usual wear and tear.

split damaged shakes with a hammer and chisel

Split Damage Shakes

For the following step, you will need a hammer and chisel, which you will use to carefully split the shake. To do that, place the chisel into the shake you want to split and give it a controlled strike. Avoid damaging the surrounding shakes, and remove the pieces with a set of pliers.

Use a hacksaw to cut off the nails that secured the broken shake.

Use a Hacksaw to Cut Nails

There should now be a space where the removed shake used to be. Take a look, identifying the nails that secured the previous shake before sliding a hacksaw blade beneath the shake above. Once you have it in position, saw through the nails from where they stick out to make room for the new shake.

Cut a New Shake

Find a shake that matches the ones used on your roof, then cut it to fit the gap. You will need to measure the space left after removing the damaged shake and cut accordingly using a utility knife or fine-toothed saw. The shake should be around 3/8 of an inch thinner than the width of the gap, which will allow it to expand as needed.

Slide In the New Shake

After cutting the shake to size, it should be easy enough to slide it into place. However, you cannot immediately push it into place and hammer nails in. Instead, you have to push it most of the way in, leaving around an inch of its final position. Once you do that, you can drive two galvanized wood nails into it at an upward angle right beneath the edge of the shake above.

After the nails are in, take a wooden block and push it against the shake before striking it with a hammer. Doing this will push the shake into place while putting the nails beneath the shake above. Alternatively, if the above method proves difficult, simply install the shake and hammer nails right beneath the shake above.

Seal any exposed nail heads with roofing cement.

Seal Exposed Nails

The last thing you want to do is seal any exposed nails. The method to hide nails beneath the shakes above makes it unnecessary, but if any part of a nail head is showing, you want to cover it with roofing cement. After applying it, smoothen it using a trowel.

Additionally, if your shakes were bonded by a layer of sealant that broke during the removal, use sealant or cement around the edges of the new shake to finish things off.

check for leaky joints

Leaky Joints

Aside from checking the roofing material when you have a leak, you also want to look where surfaces join. That includes areas like chimneys and valleys, which are common problem areas for leaks. Fortunately, while there can be some larger problems at play, most issues can be easily fixed as long as you identify them.

Inspect Where Surfaces Join

In areas where surfaces join, gaps in caulk, sealant, or metal flashing can lead to leaks, so you should take a look at all areas of intersection and where objects come up from the roof. Fortunately, if you find something, it should be a simple fix. For small gaps, you can simply reseal them, while larger issues can be solved through patching or replacement.

Apply Sealant or Cement

Small gaps are those less than 1/4 of an inch, and they can be easily filled using sealant or cement. Larger gaps will require a more significant fix. If the gap is small, start by scraping away any old sealant or cement and wiping the area clean of debris. After that, dry the area and apply the new sealant or cement.

When dealing with small cracks around joined surfaces, try using a putty knife to work in the cement. Meanwhile, when working on a crack on the collar of an exposed pipe or vent, use a bead of waterproof silicone caulk.

Repair Rusted or Loose Flashing

Metal flashing is usually aluminum or steel, and it can be found on chimneys, valleys, siding, and walls that touch the roof. If it is loose, apply a bead of roofing cement beneath it and push it down. On the other hand, handle rusted flashing by sliding new steel flashing underneath the problem spot and sealing it after using roofing cement.

Sometimes, the shingles next to the flashing will be loose. If that is the case, do not nail the shingles near the flashing and opt to bond the shingles and flashing with roofing cement. Doing this prevents nails from puncturing the flashing.

Replace Flashing If Needed

There are times when a quick fix does not do the trick, leaving you no choice but to replace the flashing. In these cases, it is necessary to pry away the flashing and cement, which can be done with a chisel or pry bar.

Once the old flashing is disposed of, measure the joined area and cut a bit of pre-bent flashing to be placed at that joint. Just make sure that the flashing overlaps the joint by around four inches on both sides.

After the new flashing is cut and ready, place ice-and-water barrier strips at the joint prior to installation. If the object protrudes from the roof, place the strips four inches up its height. After that, seal the flashing using roofing cement or caulk while also hammering galvanized roofing nails into any empty nail holes in the flashing.

How to Repair Broken or Rotted Eaves?

Call Bumble Roofing if you have any questions about your leaky roof. We serve all of Los Angeles.

Bumble Roofing
6800 Owensmouth Ave STE 410, Canoga Park, CA 91303, United States
+1 310-906-2410
(844) 728-6253

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