Patching a hole in the roof |

Patching a hole in the roof

Sam Bauman
Appeal Staff Writer
photos by Brad Horn/Nevada Appeal The hole in the roof "patch" that none of the expert roofers noticed. It has been repaired with a special roofing compound with two layers.

Little strikes more fear for the homeowner than to discover a puddle inside the house after a rainstorm.

“Somebody spill something?” may be the hopeful first reaction, but sadly the final analysis is a leaking roof. Particularly if the house is in its 31st year.

Such was the case two weeks ago at our house. The puddle (make that a small lake) was in the garage, but the same flat roof also covers the kitchen – no water there, happily.

So a scramble up onto the roof disclosed a large puddle. To stop the leak we used a push broom to shove the water over the edge of the roof. That revealed a slightly raised patch in the center of the roof. Ah, the source of the leak!

An ad in the Nevada Appeal brought several roofers anxious to stop the leak. And a call to a pro outfit in the city won a promise of action – as soon as other leaks were closed around town.

Those answering the ad were happy to climb the roof and offer assistance at varying prices. One roofer said he could fix it all for $500. Another offered a bid of $900. Tops was the only written bid, $1,900, eave to eave repairs.

All of those who claimed to be professionals inspected the roof and the drain pipe in the garage which connected to that patch on the roof. The plastic pipe in the garage (which vented outside) showed signs of being repaired with plastic guk.

With all the bids in hand, we decided to inspect the roof ourselves after a personal friend who is a contractor inspected the roof and said it looked pretty good to him.

By now, most of the water had evaporated or leaked into the garage. So it was possible to take a close look at the patch.

Which in fact turned out not to be a patch, but rather a piece of roofing material tarred in place. And wonder of wonders, there was hole in the center of it. A screwdriver poked into the hole came up with some dirt-like material which had clogged the hole.

Was the plug the reason the roof leaked? Had it prevented the roof from draining? A hose stuck in the hole showed that the pipe would drain all right if kept open. But still, there was the leak. A close inspection revealed that the roofing material had curled up and could be the source of the leak.

On a sunny Saturday, with a bucket of “miracle” tar roof sealer in hand, we climbed the roof and began forcing the gooey tar stuff into, under, around and over the “patch.” When buying the tool to apply the tar, a Meek’s Lumber and Hardware expert advised two coats over two days. So that’s what we did.

The result? So far no leaks, but then we haven’t had a real downpour since we did the repairs. A close inspection of the drain pipe going through the garage showed that it had sagged out of its collar about a half inch. So now we’re waiting for rain (or snow or hail) to check out our work. And we have to come up with some kind of screen to keep dirt from plugging the hole.

We haven’t heard anything more from our would-be roofers who didn’t bother to check the “patch” but were happy to make repair estimates. Never did hear from the company that said they would come around and checkout the problem.

Is there a moral to this story?

Yep. Not necessarily to do it yourself, but to at least check out a problem (or a roof yourself). You may not be an expert, but unless you don’t care to climb out on a roof, you might be able to save yourself, say, $1,900.

• Contact Sam Bauman at or 881-1236.