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Fixing a leaky roof DIY

How to Fix a Roof Leak – Part 2

There’s nothing like the feeling of having to go up on the roof to do man work.

Even if you’re just cleaning a gutter, removing a fallen tree limb or gathering up the myriad of Frisbees, lost balls or parachuting action figures, roof work reinforces “man-ness” every time.

Neighbors come outside, hemming and hawing while you look down on them. You proudly display your tool belt, letting them know who’s king of the castle, yet are secretive about what you are doing to keep their nosy a** wondering.

Going on the roof is awesome.

Unless it’s fixing your leaky roof.

In my last post, I discovered the leak, and recorded it’s location using mil-spec GPS software and top-secret triangulation methods.

Nah, I got a tape measure and measured how far the leak was from an interior and exterior wall.

Here was my list of stuff needed to fix the leak. Not so much for you, but so I wouldn’t have to go up and down like eight times ‘cause I forgot something:

  • Tool belt to hold stuff and impress neighbors
  • Hammer
  • 5-in-1 Painter’s Tool
  • Tape Measure
  • Small Trowel
  • Broom
  • Gloves, disposable
  • Old clothes
  • 1 Gallon of Rubberized Leak Stopper
  • 6” Wide Fiberglass Mesh
  • Bag of River Rock (pebbles)
  • Razor Knife
Tools for Fixing a Leaky Roof

Here's the stuff I lugged up on the roof.

I’ll do a little step-by-step according to tool used:

Tool Belt

The tool belt holds your stuff when you climb the ladder. So climb the ladder and get up there. Look over your domain. Intimidate the neighbors. Flash the tool belt, wave at them, wipe your brow and feel superior.

Measuring Tape

Use the measuring tape to pull some x/y coordinates and find that leak. Aww yeah boy scout. You can do it.

5-in-1 Painter’s Tool

I grabbed my 5-in-1 tool and scraped back the loose gravel. My roof happens to be a built-up or “river rock” roof. The older flat-roof homes here in Florida commonly have these. If you have asphalt shingles then just skip this part.

I found what seemed to be the culprit. A tarred-over crack where my tongue-and-groove 1×10 decking had some evident history of expansion and contraction. In my last post, I could visibly see the leak. A little drop here and there. But this was a really big crack for such a small leak. I honestly expected to see a nail that popped or something.


Use the broom to clean out the area, about 6” to either side, and get rid of all the little bits of rock and dust.

Gravel roof, built-up roof repaired with rubberized roof patching compound.

Here's the source of my leaky roof, a 36" depression where the crack was just tarred over when my roof was replaced in 2000.


I had the hammer in case I needed to chip away at any tar or embedded rock that would hamper my sealing abilities. Didn’t really need it. But it looked appropriate in the tool belt.

1 Gallon Can of Rubberized Leak Stopper

Next, I opened the can of  “Leak Stopper” rubberized roofing sealant (use your 5-in-1 tool). It says it can be applied to a wet surface, but I had waited a few days after the last rain to make sure everything was nice and dry.

Oh, and if you have EPDM or a “Membrane Roof” then stop right here. It says don’t use this stuff on that kind of roof.

This stuff is NASTY. Put on the disposable gloves. Oh and you’re wearing the old clothes, right? If you get this stuff on them just put them right in the garbage after.

Small Trowel

The leak stopper is applied with your small trowel. It says it has some kind of penetrating oil in it to make it flow into the cracks or holes. So take the trowel and apply a thin layer, about ¼” thick, making sure you get it down into the cracks.

This is the point you will discover whether you swept good. If the surface still has loose material/dust, the patching compound will stick to the trowel, and just pick up the dust and loose rocks—refusing to stick to the roof. Somehow I thought of a dog licking peanut butter off the roof of his mouth. Yeah. It won’t stick to his tongue.


Okay, I had a nice even coat of leak stopper. I took great care to get down into the cracks and I even feathered the edges of the patching compound better than your middle-school hairdo. I overlapped the cracked area in the roof by about three inches to either side.

First coat of Leak Stopper roof repair

With everything swept clean, I applied the first coat of Leak Stopper, making sure to work it down into the crack and feather the edges.

Razor Knife

So my razor knife just happened to be in my tool belt, and I planned on using the 5-in-1 tool here to do that slick “pin-the-tape-down-and-pull” method to cut it. But that’s cool ‘cause I used it to open and cut the fiberglass tape (and the bag of river rocks later…).

Fiberglass Tape

The tape reinforces your patch by sandwiching it between two applications of the patching compound. Lay it in there and put some more patching compound over the top of it.

Fiberglass tape for roof repair

Fiberglass tape. Lay this stuff between your layers of rubberized roof patching compound to add strength to your roof fix.

Embedding fiberglass tape into rubberized roof coating for repair.

It's hard to see the black fiberglass tape, but after the first coat of Leak Stopper, I added a layer of it before applying a second coat.

Here's the completed patch. The roofing compound just needs to be covered with the river rock and she's all done.

Here's the completed patch. The roofing compound just needs to be covered with the river rock and she's all done.

Bag of River Rock

I let the patch set up for a few hours, then returned to the roof to smooth out the river rock over the top of it, adding some new rock to the mix, just to make sure.

I’m told the rock on these built-up roofs are to protect the underlying materials from UV rays, as some the patching compounds will degrade, and possibly the tar—but I don’t really know, just wanted to return it to its former glory.

Now sit back, take another look over your domain, and just hang out up there. You could bang the hammer against the roof every so often to make it seem like you’re doing something, and enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet.

Not that I did that or anything.


  • Henry Garcia

    one of the most amazing, well organized and helpful article I’ve ever read regarding house’s roofing ! thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge and experience ! =) please keep them coming…


  • Holly James

    Thanks for sharing! My roof is leaking and I was looking into calling some professionals that did Newton roofing. I have no experience with the sort of stuff so I thought it would be better to hire someone. Maybe I can give fixing it a try before spending a lot of money though with the help of these awesome tips. Thanks again!


  • Angela Jones

    This post attracted me a lot. I did my roof repair by myself with a DIY product [PRODUCT PLACEMENT REDACTED. WE’RE THE ONLY ONES ALLOWED TO DO THIS AROUND HERE]. Luckily its application was easy and it did not let me involve in that type of activity again but I enjoyed a lot doing that.


  • mayur jain

    My roof is leaking badly


  • Joe Braxton

    Thank you for sharing this advice. I am going to need to get my roof re-done in the near future. I wasn’t aware that warranty repairs may have restrictions. I will have to see if that is the case for mine. I believe I am still under warranty. Thanks again.


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