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Before getting into our tips, as a professional cedar shake expert installer we discourage making any repairs to your roofing for both your own safety and that of your roof. Please call on a local roofing pro, like Shake Guys, before doing your own cedar shake roof leak repair.

A deeper look at the reason leaks typically occur over time

Like all wood, cedar shakes will swell in wet and humid weather and contract in dry weather. After years of this, especially without preservation treatments, the shakes weaken but their shifting wears on the felt lining below them. The deteriorated underlayment can become less leak resistant. Coupled with worn, cracked, missing, or cupped shakes, a leak becomes possible. The plywood decking itself isn’t a very water-tight barrier, as you can imagine. Water works through this layer and will eventually produce water stains on the ceiling after it rains. A professional must repair the roof if there is excessive damage but minor leaks that show up as small stains or drips can often be fixed in a relatively brief time by anyone who know what they’re doing. Hence, this blog will outline the steps and materials it takes for a DIY cedar shake roof leak repair.

Shake Roof Leak Repair Prep List

  • Make sure you’ll be making your repair on a warm day!
  • Be sure to have a spotter ready to aid you when you climb a ladder.
  • Have the following materials and tools ready:
    • Stepladder or attic access ladder
    • Flashlight
    • Extension ladder
    • Wooden block
    • 16-inch nail bar
    • Reciprocating saw with metal-cutting blade
    • Pliers
    • 12-inch-by-12-inch-by-24-gauge metal shingle or 24-gauge sheet metal
    • 5-penny shingle nails
    • Hammer or shingle hatchet
    • 50+ foot garden hose

Get the tools for the job online at Amazon

DIY Cedar Shake Roof Leak Repair Steps

Step 1 – Find the Source of the Leak

Finding the source of the problem may be tricky, dusty, and dirty. You’ll probably need to start with a trip to the attic during the middle of the day. Get a good flashlight and head up. Inspect the underside of the roof for a pinhole of daylight. Alternatively, look for moisture or a water stain at the underside of the roof sheathing or on the side of a rafter, and follow the stain to its highest point. Following the moisture is the universal tracking need here. Note the area and proceed with fixing the leak. If necessary, measure from the area of the leak to the point where a corresponding rafter protrudes through an outside wall, and note the measurement.

Step 2 – Get up on the Roof with Your Materials

Access the roof using an extension ladder. Add the measurement for an overhang to your attic measurement, and measure up this distance from the edge of the roof to the location of the leak. Now follow these steps to make your cedar shake roof leak repair:

  1. Place a wooden block flat on the roof below the area of repair to protect the shakes immediately below from damage. Using a 16-inch nail bar, pry up on the lower edge of a shake at one side of the leak, with the bar resting on the block.
  2. Hold downward pressure against the block with the bar. Cut off the roofing nails at the underside of the shake with a reciprocating saw and a metal-cutting blade. Repeat this at the shake on the other side of the leak.
  3. Put on work gloves and use pliers to fold under the opposite corners of a 12-inch-by-12-inch-by-24-gauge piece of sheet metal and crimp each securely to prevent the square corners from catching under the shake.
  4. Slide the shingle or sheet metal under both shakes and center it over the leak. Slide the piece up until the lower edge is even with the lower edges of the corresponding shakes. If you encounter an unseen obstruction, don’t force it, as this may damage the underlayment or other shingles. If necessary, the lower edge of the shingle can remain exposed and be painted to match the roof.
  5. Secure the shakes and metal shingle underneath to the roof with 5-penny shingle nails. Drive a pair of nails, evenly spaced, between the outer edges of the exposed portions of the shakes, using a hammer or shingle hatchet.
  6. Clean up your materials and get yourself safely to the ground.

Step 3 – Test your Repair

At this point, you’re probably wondering why you didn’t just hire a professional, but you might as well see how you did. It’s likely that you’ll have to do this from a ladder, so get your spotter and your garden hose. Spray the repaired area for a couple minutes with a hard stream. Now it’s back to the attic to look for water penetration. If there’s no water leaking in then you’re done. Bravo! If there’s still leaking you have two options; call a pro or purchase some caulking and patch the area where water is still coming in. There’s probably only a 50% chance that caulking will work as the water will likely find a new access point.


DIY not for you?

When it comes to an important investment, such as a cedar shake roof, it’s best to leave any repair work to an expert. If you live in the norther Chicagoland area, you can always call on the pros at Shake Guys to take care of your proper inspections, repairs, preservation treatments, or roof replacement needs.

Call us today at 847.278.2272, or ask for a quote here.


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