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Emergency Roof Repairs

Emergency Roof Repairs

Vancouver gets its fair share of extreme weather conditions, especially during the winter months. This too is the worst time to have an emergency of any kind, but especially a roofing emergency. Leaks are more likely to happen when your home is subjected to heavy rain, snowstorms, strong winds and/or hail.
A leaky roof is one of the worst situations that a homeowner has to face. Immediate intervention is critical since water damage can directly affect the stability of the entire structure. As well as destroy furniture, flooring, appliances.
In the midst of a severe storm, a professional roofing contractor may not be immediately available because, let’s face it, you’re probably not the only one looking for help from a professional during this time. So what should you do to prevent further damage to your roof before a professional arrives? Emergency roof repairs – this can help to minimize water damage until a roofing contractor is available to permanently and correctly handle the repairs.

What To Do When You Have An Emergency

If you’re faced with serious weather conditions that impact your home and cause a leak in your roof, the most important thing you can do is stop the flow of water. Placing buckets under the leak can help prevent damage to flooring while also ensuring you don’t slip and injure yourself. Even if you do have experience looking for roof damage, it may not be smart to do so during a storm. Wait until a professional is available. If the storm does let up and you can safely check your roof, try to clear away any snow, puddles or stagnant water forming. If left unattended, these things can cause even more damage and can cost you even more in the long run. Next, you can try to locate the exact source of the leak. This may be tedious but checking both inside and outside should help determine the location of the leak. If you have a skylight or chimney, look around the edges first as those areas could be the culprit.

Emergency Roof Repairs

Aside from skylights and chimneys, roof vents are one of the most common causes of a roof leak. Air vents are used to allow outside air to enter into attics and other ventilation spaces. Rusty and cracked vent pipe collars around their base allow the water to first pool around and then seep through the interior walls of your home.
Occasionally, vent pipe leaks can also occur at the collar surrounding the base of the vent pipe, where it breaks through the surface of the roofing material. When this occurs, rainwater can seep in between the rubber boot and the vent pipe while accumulating in your home and causing damage. If the rubber boot collar is cracked or damaged, it will need to be replaced. Talk to a roofing contractor about this because this isn’t something you can fix on your own. If you have determined that the issue isn’t a skylight, chimney or roof vent, then you should consider inspecting the attic to see if you can find the source of the leak.

If you are able to find the leak, plug it if possible. Use plastic sheets or tarps as temporary methods until a professional arrives. A good method is to enclose a piece of wood (a two-by-four is an ideal size) in an end section of plastic sheeting. Wrap the board several times to ensure it will stay covered and then secure the plastic to the wood with staples.

Plastic Sheeting

Lay the wood down on the roof and place the plastic sheeting over the leaky area. Wrap a second two by four in the other end of the plastic sheeting. Do not staple or nail the wood planks or plastic to the roof as you might risk creating more leaks or other damage.
Contact a roofing company as soon as possible and explain your problem. Let the customer service representative know if your roof is made of shingles, tiles, wood shakes, metal or if you have a flat roof. This information will help the contractor know what repairs will be required before sending out the most knowledgeable expert.

The Dangers of Ice Damming

With the prolonged presence of snow in Metro Vancouver, many homeowners may be at risk of ice damming and not even know it. Ice damming occurs when a thin layer of ice pools at the edge of your roof, preventing melting snow from draining off. Ice is heavy and can cause severe damage to your roof if not addressed. In order to prevent ice damming, you can purchase a roof rake. This is basically a sideways shovel with a long handle that you use to reach up and remove snow from your roof’s edge before it turns to ice. When the weather drops, you should use this rake at least once a week to clear the ice.

Where Do Ice Dams Come From?

When snow is allowed to accumulate on your roof, the heat from inside your home can cause it to melt. However, if the outside temperature is still below freezing, the snow will instead turn to ice. When ice develops around the edges of your roof, it can quickly build up into increasingly large blocks, also known as ice dams.
If too much ice accumulates on your roof, it can damage the shingles and lead to leaks and water damage. In severe cases, roofs have been known to collapse under the weight of ice dams. However, such instances are rare, especially in Vancouver where the weather doesn’t stay below freezing for long. With the proper precautions and routine roof maintenance, you can prevent ice dams from taking a toll on your home.


In the event of a storm, knowing these quick fixes could save your roof. Being able to perform an emergency repair quickly could save you thousands of dollars. If you’re concerned your roof is damaged, don’t hesitate to call the experts at Cambie Roofing for a free inspection.

Originally published June 2017.
Updated and republished March 2023.

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