How to Fix Nail Holes in a Roof

Finding roof leaks can be difficult because the source of the leak and where the water is actually dripping may be in two places.
Since roofs are pitched at an angle, water runs down until it finds a weak spot and penetrates the roof. Old roofing nails may be the source of the problem. It is not unusual for a nail hole in shingles or flashing to expand over time, allowing the water to seep through. Once you find the source of the leak, it's relatively simple to fix the nail holes.

Step 1

Examine the framing of the roof with a flashlight. Look for drops of water or water stains. It is best to do this after a rainstorm or when snow on top of the roof begins to melt. On a sunny day, look for spots where sunlight is shining through the nail hole.

Step 2

Caulk all nail hole leaks with roofing cement. Apply the roofing cement with a putty knife around the damaged area inside the attic. For extra security, inspect the shingle on top of the roof and apply more roofing cement to the top of the nail.

Step 3

Cover the hole with sheet metal. This is an alternative method for repairing nail holes. Tuck a piece of sheet metal under the shingle with the hole in it. Sheet metal comes in flat pieces and coiled strips. The top piece of the metal should be about an inch up the slope from the hole. Use urethane caulk to secure the sheet metal in place. Urethane caulk has a low shrinkage factor and is water-resistant. Apply the caulk with a caulk gun. Wipe off excess caulk with a damp rag.

Step 4

Inspect the roof twice a year. Replace shingles that have holes that are too large to patch. Always use roofing cement to cover the nail heads after nailing shingles in place.

Things You Will Need

  • Ladder
  • Flashlight
  • Roofing cement
  • Putty knife
  • Sheet metal
  • Urethane caulk
  • Caulk gun
  • Rags

Warnings

  • Never work on a wet roof. Wet shingles are slippery and dangerous to walk on. \
  • If you are uncomfortable with heights or the roof is too steeply pitched to work on safely, call a professional.

About the Author

Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.