On this page:
- Estimating the Job
- The Value of Professional Leak Repair
- Cost Factors
- What a Leak Repair Involves
- Preparing for the Roofers
- Cost Comparisons
- Level of Difficulty
- Find a Pro
A leaky roof isn’t always an emergency, but it’s never something you should ignore. Even a small leak can cause big problems, such as mold, wood rot and sagging ceilings, if left unattended. Only minor reinforcement of the roof covering may be needed to patch a leak, but many leaks are difficult to locate. That’s a good reason why it’s usually a better idea to entrust the job to a pro than it is to do it yourself.
Estimating the Job
Type of Roofing
Repairs to metal and asphalt roofs tend to be less expensive than those covered with clay or concrete tiles, wooden shakes and slate tiles. The average repair to an asphalt or metal roof is around $350, while the average price to repair a tile or shake roof can be as high as $500. Repairs to flat roofs covered with rubber membranes or spray foam generally run in the neighborhood of $400.
Reason for Leak
Some leaks occur simply because the covering has failed, and the solution can be as simple as replacing a shingle or resealing a seam. Sometimes, however, the cause is more complicated. The pitch may not be steep enough, the covering and flashing may be improperly installed or the roof may be prone to ice dams. Costs rise whenever extra work is required.
Extent of the Damage
Leaving a leak unattended for an extended period is almost sure to cause damage to the roof decking, the joists and other parts of the roof besides the covering itself. When the damage causes the roof to sag, the repair can add up to $800 -- on average -- to the cost of the job.
Hazardous Working Conditions
Repairing a leak on a steep, high roof requires safety equipment, including harnesses and roof jacks, which add to the cost of the repair. In addition, scaffolding may be needed for repairs to tile roofs to keep workers from walking on the tiles.
The Value of Professional Leak Repair
Protect Your Home
When water seeps into your home through a leak in the roof, its trajectory can be unpredictable. It may soak the attic insulation or even the insulation in the walls. Patching the leak as soon as you discover it minimizes the possibility of clumped insulation, wood rot and drywall damage.
Protect Your Health
Moisture penetrating attic or wall insulation not only causes clumping, it allows the spread of mold, which is known to cause respiratory problems for sensitive individuals. Mold can also grow in water damaged drywall. The sooner you repair your roof leak, the less chance there is that a toxic colony will develop in a place that may be hard to reach.
The amount of money it costs to repair damage from a roof leak is directly proportional to the amount of time it takes to repair the leak. If you get to the repair quickly, the chances are good that you’ll only have to make minor repairs, but if you wait, the repair could turn into a major -- and costly -- project. Pros know the business and can offer the best materials at the most economical prices.
Get It Done Right
Professionals can not only trace leaks reliably -- which isn’t always easy to do -- they have the materials and know-how to make reliable repairs. They also know how to work safely and give you the assurance of a watertight roof without the bother and hazards of doing the job yourself.
The repair may or may not require installation of extra roofing material, but it usually involves some kind of sealant, which generally costs about $20 a gallon. In addition, some extra flashing may be needed, particularly around skylights and chimneys and along valleys. These materials aren’t expensive unless you need large quantities.
The bulk of the cost of a roof repair generally goes to labor. Roofers generally charge between $40 and $50 per hour for large jobs; they may charge slightly higher rates for small jobs to cover overhead.
The factors that can drive up the cost of a roof repair include a steep slope, a high roof, a large number of layers of existing roofing and the need for new flashing, vents or other auxiliary materials. If a leak repair requires replacement of some of the roofing, tearout and disposal costs must also be considered.
Leaks become apparent in rainy weather, and if your roof has one large enough to require immediate attention, you’ll have to pay a bit for the repair. It’s more dangerous and uncomfortable to work on a wet roof, and measures will need to be taken to prevent water from coming in the house while the repair is underway. Working in a snowy or icy roof is also dangerous and costs more.
What a Leak Repair Involves
Locating the Leak
Water can seep a fair distance under the roof covering before it finds a crack through which to enter. Once inside your house, it can continue to seep along the roof decking and joists, and ultimately, the place where it drips can be several feet from original leak. Given this, finding the original leak requires a knowledge of roof structures and a detective’s eye for details.
Assessing the Repair
After pinpointing the source of the leak, the roofer determines what it will take to fix it. It may be simply an application of roofing tar or some other sealant, but more often, some part of the roof covering or flashing must be replaced. In some cases, part of the roof has to come off to expose rotten plywood and replace it.
Determining the Repair Materials
The choice of materials depends on the type of roof and the extent of the damage. The materials may include sealants, flashing, replacement roof covering and, in some cases, lumber for repairing the roof substructure, including rotting trim and fascia.
Executing the Repair
The actual repair involves deployment of ladders, scaffolding and safety equipment as needed to access the leak, then patching it and testing to make sure the leak has stopped.
Preparing for the Roofers
Try to Locate the Leak Yourself
When you go into the attic, you can usually spot the place where the water is seeping through the roof decking. Even though this may not correspond to the actual location of the leak in the roofing material, it’s valuable information, because it tells the roofer on which section of the roof to focus.
Check with Your Insurance Company
The roof leak -- and any damage it has caused -- may be covered by your homeowner’s policy, and it’s even possible your insurance company will arrange for the repair. If so, you’ll be happy that that’s the first call you made, because you won’t have to make any more. Even if the company does not make those arrangements, it may have billing requirements that you have to follow.
Vet Your Roofer
Leak repair is a job for an experienced pro who can show you references. You may pay a qualified worker for several hours of labor only to find that the actual leak hasn’t been fixed. Once you have found a qualified roofer, ask for an assessment of the work involved before you hire out the job.
|$10 - $150||$182 - $418||$450 - $850|
Leak repair costs for all types of roofs.
- • Type of Roof: Shingle, composite and metal roofs are generally the least expensive to patch.
- • Extent of Damage: A small amount of water seepage into the attic caused by a single rupture in the roofing material.
- • Materials Needed: Small leaks can usually be sealed with roof sealant or tar. If the location of the leak is obvious, it’s possible for a homeowner to patch it and save the cost of professional help.
- • Hazard Considerations: The roof is walkable; it is dry and the pitch is 7/12 or less, which means the height rises 7 feet for every 12 feet of horizontal run. The roof is also easy to access with a ladder.
- • Type of Roof: The roof covering may be shingle, composite, tiles, shakes or a rubber membrane.
- • Extent of Damage: Some of the roof covering is missing or has blown off. In addition, locating the leak may require removal of an additional section of the covering.
- • Materials Needed: Besides replacement roof covering, the job may require flashing. It may also require a specialty sealant or one capable of sealing a large section of the roof.
- • Hazard Considerations: The roof may or may not be too steep to walk on, and the workers may need harnesses and other safety equipment. An emergency repair may be conducted in wet weather.
- • Type of Roof: Repairs to slate and tiled roofs generally cost more, but repairs to composite and metal roofs can also be costly if the flashing or roof decking are damaged.
- • Extent of Damage: The most expensive repairs generally involve some repair to the roof decking or roof joists. The roof may be sagging in places, which requires removal of the roof covering and replacement of a large section of decking.
- • Materials Needed: Besides replacement roof covering material, the repair may require plywood and lumber, as well as sealants and flashing.
- • Hazard Considerations: Expect to pay top prices if your roof is steep and difficult to access.
Level of Difficulty
While it’s possible to patch a small leak yourself on a walkable roof, most large roofing repairs should be handled by licensed pros with experience and safety equipment. Falling off the roof is an all-too-real possibility, especially if you have to go up there multiple times to patch a single leak that you aren’t able to pinpoint. Besides the experience and knowledge to get the job done right on the first try, roofers also have insurance to cover them so you don’t have to rely on your homeowner’s policy.
Find a Roof Repair Contractor
You can prevent damage to your house and keep the repair costs to a minimum by doing what is necessary to fix a leak as soon as you become aware of it. If you can’t do the job yourself, contact a roofer right away. There’s nothing like a solid roof over your head to ensure a restful, sleep-filled night.