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DIY Roofing

DIY Roof Repair Mistakes to Avoid (& When to Call A Professional)

March 1, 2024 | 4 min. read

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Embarking on a do-it-yourself (DIY) roof repair project can be tempting, especially for homeowners looking to save money or tackle home improvement tasks independently. However, without the proper knowledge, skills, and tools, DIY roof repairs can quickly turn into a costly and potentially dangerous endeavor.

Rescue My Roof has been working with homeowners for over a decade, and we’ve seen DIY mistakes that have cost thousands of dollars in repairs. We’re here to help you navigate roof repairs in a way that keeps your home and wallet safe. 

In this article, we’ll highlight some of the most common DIY roof repair mistakes to avoid, along with tips for ensuring a successful outcome. Ultimately, you’ll know if you can repair your roof yourself, or if it’s time to call a roofing contractor.

Should You Repair A Roof By Yourself?

Homeowner evaluating wood decking on an asphalt roof.

Replacing a few shingles or tackling a roof leak may seem like an easy task. But once you get on your roof, you may find it more difficult than you imagined. 

Though DIY roof repairs may save you money now, it can put you and your home at risk. Not only might you make the original problem worse or misdiagnose the cause of a leak, you put yourself at risk every time you climb on your roof without training. 

And since most roofing contractors offer free roof estimates, we always recommend getting a professional opinion before attempting any DIY repair. Ultimately, you may find that a roofing contractor is better suited for the job. 

The Risks of DIY Roof Repairs (& Mistakes to Avoid)

While we don’t recommend DIY roof repairs, it’s inevitable that homeowners attempt to fix an issue themselves before calling a professional as a last resort. 

But attempting roof repairs yourself comes with risks. Here are some of the top risks to be aware of, and mistakes to avoid to achieve the best outcome for your roof. 

1. Underestimating the Scope of the Repair 

One of the most common mistakes homeowners make when attempting DIY roof repairs is underestimating the extent of the damage. What may seem like a small leak or missing shingle could be indicative of more significant underlying issues, such as deteriorated decking, damaged flashing, or compromised structural integrity. 

When there is a roof leak, always check the attic space before beginning repairs. There may be rotten decking or water damage that has to be fixed alongside the leak to stop mold growth in its tracks. 

Rotten and water-damaged roof decking.
Rotten and water-damaged roof decking.

If you do find signs of rotten decking, a professional repair is needed. A repairperson can rip off the affected materials, replace the decking, and ensure your roof is ready to tackle another decade. 

Overall, the most important takeaway is: before starting any DIY repair, thoroughly inspect the roof and assess the full scope of the problem to ensure that you address all issues effectively.

2. Neglecting Safety Precautions

Roof work is inherently risky, with the potential for falls, slips, and other accidents. Neglecting safety precautions is a grave mistake that can result in serious injury or even death. 

Always prioritize safety when working on a roof, including using proper fall protection equipment such as harnesses, ladders, and scaffolding. Additionally, be mindful of weather conditions and avoid working on the roof during adverse weather, such as high winds, rain, or extreme heat.

3. Using Improper Materials or Techniques

Choosing the wrong materials or employing incorrect repair techniques can exacerbate roof problems rather than solve them. DIYers may opt for quick fixes or makeshift solutions that fail to address the underlying issue, leading to recurring leaks or further damage. It’s essential to use high-quality roofing materials suitable for your roof type and follow manufacturer guidelines for installation and repair. 

One of the most common mistakes we see is using Flex Seal on your roof. Flex Seal is a rubberized liquid that forms a watertight barrier. Because its purpose is to make things “waterproof,” it can be tempting to use Flex Seal to fix roof leaks.

However, Flex Seal is not the best option to repair roof leaks – and here’s why.

Flex Seal being used to repair a cracked flat roof.

When homeowners find a roof leak, they assume the cause is directly above the affected area. Often, the cause of a roof leak isn’t the area directly above the water stain. This means that if you use Flex Seal on the area, it won’t solve your problem.

Instead, it will create the need for eventual repairs in the area the Flex Seal was used. 

When in doubt, consult with roofing professionals or conduct thorough research to ensure you’re using the right materials and techniques for the job.

4. Failing to Properly Seal or Flash Roof Penetrations

Improperly sealed roof penetrations, such as chimneys, vents, skylights, and plumbing stacks, are common sources of leaks and water damage. 

DIYers may overlook the importance of proper flashing and sealing around these penetrations, leading to water infiltration and subsequent damage to the roof and interior of the home. Ensure that all penetrations are adequately flashed and sealed using appropriate materials and techniques to prevent leaks and maintain the integrity of the roof.

5. Ignoring Ventilation and Insulation

Roof ventilation and insulation play critical roles in maintaining a healthy and efficient roofing system. DIY roof repair-people may overlook the importance of proper ventilation and insulation, resulting in issues such as moisture buildup, heat loss, and premature roof deterioration. 

Be sure to assess the ventilation and insulation levels in your attic and address any deficiencies as part of your roof repair project. Proper ventilation and insulation will help extend the lifespan of your roof and improve energy efficiency.

Our Recommendation: Get Professional Roof Repairs

While the allure of DIY roof repair may be tempting, it’s essential to approach such projects with caution and mindfulness of potential pitfalls. By avoiding common mistakes such as underestimating the scope of repairs, neglecting safety precautions, using improper materials or techniques, failing to seal roof penetrations, and ignoring ventilation and insulation, homeowners can increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. 

When in doubt or faced with complex roofing issues, don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance to ensure the integrity and longevity of your roof.

 Learn more about roof repairs with “How Much Do Roof Repairs Cost” and “Will Insurance Cover My Roof Repairs or Replacement?

Are you looking for a trustworthy roofing contractor in southeastern Wisconsin? Rescue My Roof is ready to help. Contact us today to get a free roof estimate.