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The Homeowner’s Guide to Roof Repair

Written by Joe Roberts

Published on October 26, 2023


The Homeowner’s Guide to Roof Repair

From DIY roof solutions to professional fixes, our guide to roof repair can teach you the best and most affordable ways to eliminate common roof problems.

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Not all types of roof damage require replacing your roofing system. In many cases, a damaged roof can be restored with some small-scale repairs.

Does your ceiling leak on rainy days? Does the peak of your roof sag? Have high winds made off with your shingles? Well, there is some good news. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may not have to replace your entire roof to protect your home from the elements. Relatively inexpensive repairs can often reverse storm damage and everyday wear and tear.

Most homeowners spend around $900 to get their roofs professionally repaired, but you could pay more or less than this, depending on what part of your roof actually needs fixing. Additionally, there are some minor roof repairs that you can tackle with your own two hands.

Keep reading to learn which types of roof damage you can repair yourself, which ones should be left to professionals, and when you should opt for roof replacement instead.

Hire a roofing contractor to restore your roof

When you can repair your roof vs. when you should replace it

When your roof has taken on noticeable damage, you have to weigh a few different factors to determine if repairs will do the trick or if you just need a new roof. 

Factor 1: The age and material of the roof

Not all roofs last the same amount of time. Asphalt shingle roofs will only last a decade or two under the best conditions, wood shake roofs can last 30 to 50 years if they’re well cared for, and materials like copper and slate can last over a century.

When surveying the damage to your roof and determining if it requires replacement, consider the age of your roofing materials and their expected lifespan. If you could get a few more decades out of your existing roof materials, repairs might be worth the time and money required. 

If, however, repairing the damage will only help your old roof limp along for another handful of years, replacement is the way to go. 

The average lifespans of different roofing materials

Roof type

Average lifespan

Asphalt shingles

10–20 years

Wood shakes

30–50 years


50–70 years

Clay tiles

50–100 years

Slate tiles

100+ years


100+ years

Factor 2: The extent of the damage

If your roof is only missing a few tiles or has a small leak that hasn’t spread too much, light repairs might be all you need. On the other hand, if a falling branch collapsed a large section of your roof or a tornado shucked away a significant portion of your roof’s shingles and underlayment, wholesale replacement might be in order. 

Factor 3: Your budget

As you’d probably expect, roof repairs are much cheaper than roof replacement. The average homeowner only spends between $400 and $2,000 to repair their roof, while roof replacement prices average from $17,750 to $33,037.

The bottom line is that your home improvement budget might make this decision for you. If you’re too strapped for cash to cover a complete roof replacement and don’t want to finance with a loan, then repairing what’s broken and nothing more might be all you can swing this year. 

Just know that making minor repairs when your roof actually requires a full replacement makes your home vulnerable to more damage down the road. When in doubt, hire a professional roofer to conduct a roof inspection. This will give you the most accurate picture of the state of your roof and provide the peace of mind of knowing you’re making the best decision. 

Roof repair jobs you can handle yourself

Most roofing repairs should be done by professionals, and even those within the capabilities of a handy homeowner can almost always be done better by a pro. Only undertake these DIY roof repairs if you’re confident in your abilities and you’re sure you can do them safely. If you’re at all doubtful, just hire a roofer. 

Minor roof leak repair

Wet drywall is often the only sign you’ll get that your roof is leaking. Even a small leak in your roof can result in significant water damage. Image source: Reddit

To spot a leak in your roof, you need to look for wet spots and water stains on the walls and ceiling of your home’s top floor. If you notice any, either go into your attic to determine the source of the leak or hop up onto your roof to find it.

Once you’ve found the hole causing the leak, assess its size. You should leave this job to a pro if it’s any larger than your fist. However, if the leak is smaller than your fist, you can usually patch it up with a few tools and materials from the hardware store, such as:

Step-by-step roof leak repair

  • Before working, you’ll want to let the leak dry completely to prevent it from rotting or growing mold after you seal it up. To do this, wait a few days after any rain storm. If bad weather is expected, you can put a tarp over the spot to keep new moisture from coming in. 
  • Once the leak has dried, apply one layer of your patch sealant—following the manufacturer’s instructions—over the leak.
  • Cover the sealant with a patch of your fabric.
  • Apply another layer of your sealant over the top of the fabric.

Once the patch dries, it should stop the leak, at least temporarily. Be aware, though, that a patch isn’t as good as an intact roofing system, so patches should only be considered temporary solutions. They can help your roof last a few more years, but in that time, you should save up the funds to get the damage more professionally repaired. 

Roof cleaning

When allowed to build up, debris and moss can damage your roofing, so you should keep your roof clean. Image source: Reddit

In addition to making your home look dingy, buildup from algae, moss, and mold can damage your roof over time. To keep these blights in check, you only need a few things:

Step-by-step roof cleaning

  • Mix your cleaning solution with as much water as the manufacturer recommends and pour the mixture into your pump sprayer.
  • Spray the mixture onto your entire roof and let it sit as long as the instructions say.
  • Once the time is up, spray the mixture off your roof with your hose. All the mold, algae, and black streaks should wash away with it.
  • Use your hose to spray down your yard and garden to rinse away excess cleaning solution since the chemicals are often toxic.

If you’ve got a tile roof, you should probably avoid stepping onto it during this process since body weight can shatter tiles. This will require an especially large ladder and a more powerful sprayer. If you’ve got an asphalt shingle or wood shake roof, though, you should be fine to step onto it as long as you’re careful. 

Gutter cleaning

Clogged gutters can result in standing water pooling on your roof. This can damage your shingles and cause major leaks. Image source: Reddit

Healthy gutters are an essential part of a healthy roofing system. If your gutters become clogged, they can cause water to pool on top of your shingles, which can cause significant water damage over time. To prevent this, clean your gutters twice a year, once at the beginning of spring and once at the end of fall.

Luckily, all you really need for this biannual project are a tall ladder and some work gloves.

Step-by-step gutter cleaning

  • Climb your ladder to see into your gutters.
  • Remove any sticks, leaves, bird nests, baseballs, or other debris accumulated over the last few months. This will ensure water flows away from your roof throughout the following season.

Pro tip: you can prevent the need for this routine maintenance by installing some gutter guards over the open tops of your gutters. 

Shingle replacement

A cracked shingle should be quickly replaced to avoid extensive weather damage. Image source: Reddit

Shingle replacement is the most challenging roofing repair that a homeowner should take on, and it’s one that you should leave to professional roofers if you can afford it. Also, if you’re replacing anything other than an asphalt shingle (like a wood shake, a clay tile, or a metal panel), you should call in a pro to do the job. Installing these materials is considerably more complicated than installing an asphalt shingle.

If you’re committed to replacing a broken asphalt shingle yourself, here’s what you’ll need:

Step-by-step shingle replacement

  • Carefully work your flat bar into the space between the damaged shingle and those above it. This will break the old sealant and free the shingle you’re replacing. Once the shingles on the upper row are free to lift, you’ll be able to see the nails in the tar strip of the damaged shingle. 
  • Using your flat bar or hammer, remove the nails. 
  • Break the sealant between the damaged shingle and those below it using your flat bar.
  • Slide the old, ruined shingle out of the lineup. 
  • Slide the new shingle into the exact same spot. Keep in mind that if you can’t get a replacement shingle of the same type as the old one, you may have to cut the new shingle down to size with your utility knife to make it fit.
  • Hold the shingles above the new shingle up so that you can nail it down to your roof decking. 
  • Apply sealant between all the shingles you had to loosen to ensure they properly adhere together again.

After the sealant has dried, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done. 

Roof repair services that require a pro

While a very handy homeowner can sometimes handle the roofing repairs we outlined above, all of the following projects should only be undertaken by trained and certified roofers. 

Repair or replace flashing

Dented or rusty flashing leaves your entire roofing system vulnerable to pests and moisture, so it should be fixed quickly. Image source: Reddit

Flashing—the system of metal sheets that lay along your roof’s valleys and seams—is an essential part of your home’s weather defense. It usually sits beneath your shingles but is sometimes visible around skylights and chimneys.

If any of your roof’s flashing is bent out of shape, noticeably rusted, or missing, it makes your decking more vulnerable to moisture and pests, so you should call a pro to repair it ASAP. Flashing repairs usually cost between $300 and $1,450.

Stopping major leaks

A large leak or a leak that has been unattended for too long usually requires a professional fix. Image source: Reddit

You probably can’t repair leaks much bigger than your fist or leaks that have resulted in major rot using the patching method we detailed above. For leaks of this magnitude, you’ll need to hire a professional roofer to patch the damage. In some cases, they may need to replace significant portions of your roofing system. 

Professional roof leak fixes typically cost between $400 and $2,500.

Replacing large sections of missing shingles or tiles

If your roof is missing a huge section of roofing, you should hire a pro to replace the missing materials. Image source: Reddit

While homeowners can sometimes replace a shingle or two, replacing a significant portion of shingles requires a professional touch to ensure it’s done right. 

Hiring pros to replace shingles usually costs between $200 and $7,500 depending on the extent of the damage, and prices go up from there if you’re replacing a more expensive roofing material like clay tiles or wood shakes. 

Repairing roofing sags

Even a subtle sag in your roofline can indicate structural damage that should be quickly addressed. Image source: Reddit

If any sections of your roof are noticeably sagging, you should hire a pro to inspect it as soon as possible. Sagging almost always indicates that some part of your roof’s structural support—like the decking or a truss—is starting to fail. If the damage goes unaddressed, it could lead to a dangerous and costly collapse. 

Repairing a roofing sag typically costs between $750 and $4,000, depending on the cause. 

Repairing or rebuilding a chimney

If your chimney is leaking, clogged, or demolished, you should get a professional on the case instead of trying to repair the damage yourself. Image source: Reddit

If your chimney is damaged by weather or flailing tree branches, it can cause leaks, pest problems, and other types of damage down the road. Additionally, it can make your house look a little rundown. To prevent all these outcomes, get the damage repaired right away. 

It typically costs $1,000 to $3,500 to rebuild a chimney, but you could pay significantly less if your chimney just needs light repairs. 

Repairing soffits or eaves

If one of your soffits has been damaged by water, rot, or an impact, it will likely require a professional fix. Image source: Reddit

Your eaves—the parts of your roof that hang away from your home—and soffits—the undersides of your eaves—help water run off your roof and away from your home. If they become damaged by falling branches, leaks, or ice buildup, they’ll endanger your home’s walls, so they should be repaired quickly. 

Homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $600 to $9,000 to restore these roofing components.

Repairing and replacing gutters

A gutter should be professionally replaced if completely bent out of shape or ruptured. Image source: Reddit

Like your eaves, your gutters are essential to your home’s weather defense. If your gutters are twisted out of shape, leaky, clogged, or missing, your roof and walls are far more vulnerable to water damage, so you should repair them as quickly as possible. 

Gutter replacements typically cost $6 to $40 per linear foot, depending on the material your gutters are made from, so your price will depend on how much of your gutter system is damaged. If your gutters just need a patch, you’ll probably pay much less than you would for replacement. 

Repairing collapsed roofs or ceilings

If sections of your ceiling or roof have completely caved in, you’ll need to get a professional on the case right away. Image source: Reddit

If a portion of your roof or ceiling has caved in due to excessive water damage or ice buildup, you should get a professional contractor to look at the damage immediately. Until the hole is repaired, your entire home is vulnerable to pests, rain, wind, and snow.

Unfortunately, repairing a roofing collapse can easily cost thousands of dollars since it usually requires replacing decking, underlayment, and things like shingles and tiles. In some cases, you may need to replace the whole roof, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Get your roof fixed by the best roofing company in your area

Factors that can affect roof repair costs

It usually only costs around $900 to repair a roof, but many factors go into the prices for this home improvement project. These factors include:

  • The square footage of your roof: Larger roofs are generally more expensive to install, and they can also cost more to repair since they have more surface area that can receive damage. 
  • The extent of the damage: Depending on how significantly damaged your roof is, you could spend more than average on repairs. 
  • Your roof’s pitch: The steeper your roof, the more it will cost to repair. Flat roofs are generally the most affordable roofs to repair for this reason. 
  • The type of roof you have: Different roofing materials come at different prices, so some cost more to repair than others. Materials like plastic tiles and asphalt shingles are generally the most affordable, while slate and metal roofing are usually much more expensive. 

These variables are why roof repair costs can range from $200 to $16,000. To get an accurate idea of what you will pay to repair your roof, you need to get an estimate from a reputable contractor. 

How to take care of your roof so future repairs aren’t necessary

Once you’ve repaired your roof, there are a few steps you should take to keep it in peak condition and prevent the need for future repairs. This checklist can help you stay on top of all the necessary roofing maintenance tasks that a healthy roof requires:

  • Get your gutters cleaned twice a year—once at the beginning of spring and once at the end of fall—to remove clogs. This will prevent water from pooling on your roof. 
  • Get your roof cleaned once a year to avoid the buildup of damaging moss or heavy debris.
  • Keep the trees on your property well-trimmed to reduce the harm their branches can cause your roof. 
  • Get your roof inspected every year or two so you always have up-to-date knowledge about its condition. 

Regularly performing all of this maintenance will ensure your roof lasts as long as possible. 

How to find a roofer for your repairs

To find the best roofer in your area, ask your neighbors or read online reviews of local roofing companies to find one that is both trustworthy and competent. Enter your zip code below to find qualified contractors in your area.

Find a contractor

Once you’ve found a roofer you like in your area, check their certification. If they’re certified by the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), you can rest assured they’ll deliver exceptional results. The NRCA only certifies the best of roofers. 

The next step is to contact the roofer for an inspection and estimate. 

How to pay for your roof repairs

You don’t always need to pay for your roofing damage with cash out of pocket. If your roofing materials are still under warranty and the warranty covers the damage, the manufacturer or roofer who installed them may finance the repairs. Contact the roofing company who installed your roofing to get more details. 

If neither the manufacturer nor the installer will cover the repairs, you may still be able to get them covered by your insurance policy. Call your homeowner’s insurance provider to ask about your policy’s coverage and next steps.

If neither your warranty nor your insurance covers your roofing repairs, you’ll either need to pay for them upfront or look into alternative financing options

Repairing your roof

It’s an unfortunate fact that keeping your home safe from the elements sometimes requires a few roofing repairs here and there. The good news is that you now know all there is to know about repairing a roof, so you’re ready to contact local contractors and restore whatever damage your roof has suffered from storms and time.

Find professional roofers in your area

Frequently asked questions

How much does it cost to fix a roof?

The average residential roofing repair costs around $900, but prices can vary widely. For example, small fixes to damaged asphalt shingles can cost as little as $200, while extensive water damage can cost over $7,000 to repair.

How to fix a roof on a budget?

The best way to make roof repairs cheaper is to make a warranty or insurance claim. If your roofing materials are still under warranty or the damage is covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy, then you’ll pay significantly less for necessary repairs.

If neither insurance nor your warranty covers the repairs, your next best option is to get quotes from several different roofers. This will help you find the contractors in your area that offer the most affordable rates. 

Outside of a few special instances, we don’t recommend DIY roofing repairs, even if you have to save money. Amateur repairs can often lead to more costly damage. 

Can you replace just a section of shingles?

Yes, shingles can be replaced individually or in small clusters. Shingle replacement is best left to professionals to get the best results, but replacing a small handful of damaged or missing asphalt shingles is usually within the average homeowner’s abilities. 

How do you fix rotted decking on your roof?

To repair rotten roof decking—or sheathing—you have to replace the affected material completely. This involves removing all the roof’s shingles and underlayment, cutting the rotten wood out of the roof, replacing it with new decking, and replacing all the other removed materials.

Because this is such a complex structural project, it should only be undertaken by professionals. 

Will a roof leak with one shingle missing?

Usually, but not always right away. Depending on where the shingle sits in your roofing system, its absence can cause a leak immediately. And even if your roof doesn’t promptly begin leaking after losing the shingle, it could still develop a leak later as the damage compounds and water sinks further into your roof. 

How long will a roof patch last?

A roof patch can last up to 10 years, but the longevity of any patch will depend on the quality of its material, the skill of the installer, and the climate conditions. Because of this, patches should only be treated as temporary roofing solutions, not permanent fixes.

Written by

Joe Roberts Content Specialist

Joe is a home improvement expert and content specialist for Fixr.com. He’s been writing home services content for over eight years, leveraging his research and composition skills to produce consumer-minded articles that demystify everything from moving to remodeling. His work has been sourced by various news sources and business journals, including Nasdaq.com and USA Today. When he isn’t writing about home improvement or climate issues, Joe can be found in bookstores and record shops.