Roofing Tips |8 min read

What to Do If Your Roof Is Leaking: A Step-by-Step Guide

Prevent Damage and Protect Your Home: How to Handle a Roof Leak

Discovering your roof is leaking can be alarming, and with Minnesota’s unpredictable weather—from heavy snowfalls to thunderstorms—the potential for damage is high. However, by taking prompt and effective actions, you can prevent further roof damage and ensure the safety and longevity of your home. Whether it’s a small drip or a steady stream of water, addressing a roof leak quickly is crucial to maintaining the integrity of your roof and avoiding costly repairs down the line. In this guide, provided by Bold North Roofing & Contracting in Bloomington, MN, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to manage a roof leak, from initial detection to professional repair, helping you protect your most valuable asset—your home.

Step 1: Stay Safe

In Minnesota, where harsh weather conditions like heavy snowfalls and ice are common, ensuring your safety becomes even more crucial when dealing with a roof leak. During winter months, ice dams can form at the edge of your roof, preventing proper drainage and potentially causing water to back up into your home. Additionally, snow accumulation can hide hazards or make your roof dangerously slippery.

When you discover a leak, first assess the situation from the ground. Do not attempt to climb on the roof, especially during adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow, or ice. If the leak occurs near electrical outlets or fixtures, switch off the power to the area at the circuit breaker to avoid any risk of electrical shock.

Keep a close eye on the weather forecast. If a freeze is expected following a leak, this may cause additional damage and issues.

Step 2: Contain the Leak

Once you have ensured your own safety, the next immediate step is to mitigate the damage caused by the leak. Begin by placing buckets, containers, or even large cooking pots under the leak to catch the dripping water. If the leak is spreading or dripping over a large area, consider using a wide, shallow pan or a plastic storage bin.

Protect your belongings by moving furniture, electronics, and other valuables out of the way. If moving large items isn’t feasible, cover them with waterproof tarps or heavy-duty plastic sheeting to prevent water damage. For carpeted areas, placing towels or absorbent mats can help soak up the water and prevent the spread of moisture.

Check for overhead leaks that might be dripping through light fixtures or vents. In such cases, be extra cautious and ensure that the electricity is turned off before placing any containers to catch water. If the ceiling shows signs of water pooling or bulging, carefully puncture it with a screwdriver or similar tool to relieve water pressure. This controlled release can prevent the ceiling from collapsing and will direct water more predictably into your containers.

It’s also a good idea to document the damage for insurance purposes. Take photos or videos of the leak and any damage to your home’s interior. These records can be crucial when filing a claim with your insurance provider or during the repair process to ensure that all issues are properly addressed.

Step 3: Identify the Source

Pinpointing the exact location of a roof leak can be challenging, as water often travels from the point of entry to another place before it becomes visible inside your home. To start, if it’s safe, access your attic or the highest point inside your home where the roof structure is visible. Bring a flashlight to inspect for any signs of water intrusion, such as damp insulation, wet rafters, or water stains on the wood.

In Minnesota’s variable climate, roof leaks may not only originate from broken shingles or tiles but could also be due to ice dams that force water under the roofing material. While in the attic, look for ice buildup along the eaves, as this can be a telltale sign of ice damming. Additionally, during warmer seasons, check for blocked vents or deteriorated flashing, which are common entry points for water.

If you can safely do so, examine the underside of the roof for any trails that indicate where the water flows. This might lead you to a higher entry point than where the water drips onto your ceiling. If your attic is inaccessible or you cannot locate the source from inside, consider a visual inspection from the ground using binoculars. Look for missing shingles, visible cracks, or anything that seems out of place.

In situations where the leak source remains elusive or the roof is too hazardous to inspect personally due to steep slopes, slick surfaces, or structural concerns, it’s prudent to call in a professional. Roofing experts have the tools and safety equipment to diagnose the issue quickly and accurately, which is especially valuable in preventing further damage to your home.

Step 4: Make Temporary Repairs

Once you’ve identified the source of the leak or at least have a general idea of where it might be, temporary repairs can help prevent further water damage until professional help arrives. Here are a few methods you can use, depending on the nature of the leak and your ability to access the roof safely:

  1. Waterproof Tape or Roofing Cement: For small leaks, applying roofing cement or waterproof tape directly over the affected area can provide a quick fix. These materials can seal around chimney bases, vents, and even small holes in the shingles.
  2. Plastic Sheeting or Tarp: If the leak is larger or you can’t pinpoint the exact source, covering the suspected area with a heavy-duty plastic tarp can be effective. Make sure the tarp extends over the ridge of the roof to prevent water from running underneath it. Secure the tarp with wood strips nailed to the roof, or use bricks and other heavy objects to weigh down the edges without causing additional damage.
  3. Nail or Staple the Tarp: While not ideal, nailing or stapling the tarp to the roof can be necessary in high wind conditions typical in Minnesota. However, be cautious as this method can potentially cause further damage. It’s recommended to use this as a last resort or in emergency situations where the tarp needs to be secured firmly.
  4. Strategic Placement: Place the tarp in a way that channels water away from the leaky area. Ensure that the water does not pool on the tarp and that it drains off the roof, as accumulated water can lead to more problems.

Remember, these repairs are temporary solutions. They are not meant to last long term and can sometimes cause further damage if left for too long. It’s essential to contact a professional roofing contractor, like Bold North Roofing & Contracting, to make permanent repairs. Our team can assess the damage, carry out necessary repairs with appropriate materials, and ensure that your roof remains in good condition to withstand Minnesota’s diverse weather conditions.

Step 5: Call a Roofing Professional

After securing a temporary fix, it’s crucial to call in professional roofers for a thorough inspection and repair. Experienced contractors, like those at Bold North Roofing & Contracting, can assess the severity of the leak and underlying issues that may not be apparent to the untrained eye.

Our professionals will:

  • Conduct a detailed roof inspection to determine the full extent of damage.
  • Provide a clear, written estimate of the necessary repairs.
  • Explain the process and timeline for fixing the roof.
  • Use high-quality materials suited to Minnesota’s climate to ensure durability and longevity.

Professional intervention is essential, not only for fixing the current leak but also for preventing potential future problems that could lead to more extensive and expensive repairs.

Step 6: Prevent Future Leaks

Once your roof is repaired, it’s wise to take proactive measures to prevent future leaks. Regular maintenance is key to extending the life of your roof and ensuring it can withstand the harsh Minnesota weather:

  • Regular Inspections: Schedule bi-annual inspections with Bold North Roofing & Contracting to catch and address potential issues before they lead to leaks.
  • Clean Gutters and Downspouts: Keep gutters and downspouts clear of debris to prevent water from backing up and causing damage.
  • Trim Trees: Keep tree branches trimmed away from your roof to reduce wear and tear and prevent damage from fallen branches.
  • Check for Ice Dams: In winter, monitor for ice dams and use a roof rake to safely remove excess snow from the edges of your roof.

Regular maintenance not only helps prevent leaks but also preserves the structural integrity of your roof and enhances the overall safety of your home.


Dealing with a roof leak can be stressful, but taking swift and strategic action can significantly mitigate damage. Remember, temporary fixes are just that—temporary. Rely on the expertise of Bold North Roofing & Contracting in Bloomington, MN, for thorough inspections, professional repairs, and preventive maintenance that keeps your roof in top condition year-round.

Don’t wait for the next leak to take action; contact us today to ensure your home remains safe and dry through every season.

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