How To Fix A Leaking Roof From The Inside (Do This!)

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team
Roof Leak Inside Attic Wet Plywood

The roof is an extremely important part of a home. After all, it protects you and your loved ones from the elements and keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. When your roof starts to leak, you may think your only option is to get a roof replacement. Luckily, this isn’t always the case.

A roof leaking from the inside is a pretty obvious sign of a major problem. If left untreated, a leaky roof can cause some serious problems, including ceiling and attic damage, mold and mildew, the risk of a fire, and structural damage.

To fix a leaking roof from the inside, start by assessing the damage and finding the leak. To temporarily patch the leak, spread tar into the hole by using a putty knife. Then, take a piece of plywood or a shingle and place it on top of the tar. Finally, scatter more tar to seal the edges of your patch job.

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Reasons Your Roof is Leaking

Did you know that as much as 90% of roof leaks are caused by penetrations in the roof like chimneys, ridge caps, and skylights? Apart from that, there are a number of potential causes for a leaking roof, including:

Broken or Missing Shingles

When roof shingles are missing or broken, it becomes a free pass for water to flow down into your living area.


The roof’s flashing protects areas where opposing roof surfaces meet. It is a sealant that is used to join the roof’s valleys that are prone to leaks or in poor condition. Check to make sure your roof flashing doesn’t have any cracks that can allow water to flow in and start a leak.


When caulking starts to break, leaks can flow. Make sure all areas of the roof that have caulk are solid and not broken so they can effectively keep water out.


Gutters are meant to drain water away from the roof. When they stop working properly, leaks can start. Make sure to check your gutters periodically to ensure they are properly draining any water away from the roof.

If you notice any leaves or debris blocking your gutters, clear them immediately. If the debris is left there, water can back up onto the roof and fuel a leak.


As the roof ages, wood can swell and settle and form gaps around flashing that can result in a leaking roof.

Steps to Fixing a Leaking Roof From the Inside

First, you must locate the leak. Next, use roofing tar to seal the leak, and finally, inspect your work to make sure you have done an adequate job of sealing in the leak.

Tools Needed to Fix a Leaky Roof from the Inside

  • Ladder
  • Safety Harness and Rope
  • Hammer
  • Roofing Sealant, like tar
  • Plywood, Shingles, or 2×4’s

Step 1: Find the Leak

  • Protect your stuff from being damaged by the leak. Before you set out to find and repair the leak, protect any furniture or flooring under the leak. If you fail to do this, your furniture or flooring can become badly damaged. This will increase your repair or replacement costs. We recommend covering furniture with a plastic cover. If the leak is severe, put down a bucket so the water does not collect and damage the floor.
  • If youre going to fix the leak, you must first find the leak. To do so, start by getting inside of the ceiling and tracing the path of the dripping water as it enters into the ceiling. It’s a good idea to bring a flashlight with you. Practice patience here as water can travel quite a distance from the leaking points before it drops through the deck of the roof. To find the leak as fast as possible, wait until it’s raining.
  • If you do decide to find the leak during wet conditions, you will have to divert the water. You can do this pretty easily by putting a nail into the hole from where the water drains. This will allow you to channel the water into one direction where you can easily catch it.
  • Next, remove the insulation from the ceiling before you clear the water from where its leaking. If you need to, grab a bucket to catch large drops of water.

Step 2: Use Tar to Seal the Leak

In order to properly seal the leak, wait until the leak has dried. This will ensure you find the correct leaking point and that the roof patch will stick on the leak.

  • Use a piece of marking chalk and draw a circle around the leaking point.
  • Seal the leak by pressing roofing tar on a piece of shingle or plywood. Use a knife to apply these materials to the leak. For best results, use a scraper to cover the entire leak and surround it with caulk.

Step 3: Inspect the Roof

Now it’s time to take a look at your roof and your work and make sure you have done the job right.

  • Before you get down from the roof, take a step back from the ceiling to inspect your work. Be sure to check whether any shingles, underlayment, or flashings have been damaged.
  • Next, check for any signs of wear and loose nails. If you see any heavy foreign objects on the roof and you can safely remove them, do so.

Step 4: Assess the Damage

Once the leak is under control and you have fixed the leak properly, make sure all furniture, carpet, floorings, and anything else that fell damage to the leak completely dries out. If you fail to do this, the water will leave and stain and can spur mold growth.

If your carpet is soaked, try putting it away from the padding to expose both sides to circulating air so it can dry properly. If you find that the damage is extensive, call a professional.

If you can see or you suspect that your home has been heavily damaged from the leak, it’s a good idea to call your insurance agent. Your policy may not cover damage from a leaking roof, but it’s always best to double-check with your agent to find out what is and isn’t covered.

When to Call in a Professional

If you are unable to safely get up to your ceiling, or you have tried, and the roof is still leaking, it’s time to call in the pros. For moderate to severe leaks, you may only have a matter of hours to take action before the damage turns catastrophic.

If your leak is so bad that you are unable to contain it or unsure of what to do to fix your roof, call in a team of experts. This will ensure the leak is fixed properly and effectively the first time.

Related Questions

How Can I Locate the Exact Location of the Leak?

To find the leak as quickly and accurately as possible, use a water meter. To get the most accurate reading from the water meter, make sure that water is not being used elsewhere in the house. Then, make sure the leak indicator in your meter is moving. You can also take a reading from your meter every one or two hours.

My Roof is Leaking— Does it Have to Be Replaced?

Not necessarily. It largely depends on what condition your roof is in. For example, if the problem spurs from a missing shingle, fixing that shingle should do the trick.But, if the problem is more widespread and the roof is nearing the end of its lifespan, the leak may be an indication of a bigger problem that will require a roof replacement.Some of the signs of widespread damage include multiple shingles that are damaged or decayed, multiple missing shingles, cracked shingles, or any other significant signs of damage.

My Roof is Brand New— Why is it Leaking?

If a brand-new roof is improperly installed, it can cause the roof to leak. If your new roof was recently installed by a licensed professional, it is likely under warranty.You should immediately contact the roofing company that installed your roof and have a professional come out and inspect and repair the leak. It’s a good idea to also contact your insurance company. Be sure to provide them with plenty of videos and photos of the leak and the roof.

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Wrapping It Up

A leaking roof is a small problem that needs to be fixed as soon as possible, before it progresses into a hazard. The good news is, most of the time, a leaking roof can be fixed pretty quickly from the inside. Remember, if you feel unsafe or uncertain about going up to your ceiling and finding the leak, call in a professional.

Upgraded Home Team
Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of passionate homeowners, home improvement pros, and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housekeeping, decorating, and more with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on fixing an appliance or the cost of installing a fence, we've here to help.

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