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Repair a Leaking Metal Roof

You may recall that we had some issues with our roof installation and as a result, we have many small holes in our new roof. Winter is approaching fast, so it was becoming a bit urgent that we spent some time to patch up the holes before the rain starts. You can use our method to repair a leaking metal roof of your own, as long as the holes are small and your sheet-metal plates are not too rusty (in which case it is best to replace).

The Day Before Lockdown

The day before the Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa, we realized that we did not have everything we needed in order to fix the many holes in our roof. Fixing the holes was one of the things we planned to do with our time, as the winter rain is only a few weeks away.

sitting on a roof for repairs

Our plan was to use rivets to block up the holes, but we needed some kind of glue to seal the area around the rivet. Our original plan was to use a Sika product. However, we had not conducted the necessary research in order to choose the correct product, and on the day before lockdown did not have time to figure it out and go shopping. Our backup plan was to use aircraft tank and seam sealant, of which we had easier access.

aircraft tank sealant

This is aircraft tank sealant. When you are ready to use it, you mix part A and part B together in order to make a new compound that will cure after some time.

This was the first time we’ve used aircraft tank sealant. It was quite an interesting experience.

Part A (the big tin) reminded me of nothing other than marshmallow fluff. A white, sticky, gooey mess.

Part B (the small tin), looked like black acrylic paint.

Imagine what you’d get if you were to mix a bit of black paint with some marshmallow fluff; and that’s exactly what we had to repair our metal roof. A sticky, grey mess that got everywhere!

Repair a Leaking Metal Roof with Pop Rivets

We had a packet of pop rivets (aka blind rivets) with a large diameter head, but we soon found out that we unfortunately had more holes than we had rivets. As we were under lockdown we could not just go to our local hardware store and get some more. Therefore, for the last few holes, we used rivets with standard heads along with washers.

working on an arched roof

The process was the same for both types of rivets:

  • Clean the area with a piece of scotchbrite and wipe down with a clean cloth
  • Dip the rivet in the goop of your choice
  • Insert rivet into hole and rivet in place
  • Liberally coat over the rivet and surrounding area with aforementioned goop
  • Once properly cured, prime and paint

Kevin did all the hard work. My job was to hand him rivets and tools, and to make sure nothing fell to the ground.

We’ll complete the priming and painting when we have another cool day without too much wind. In the meantime, what a relief to have our holes patched up, ready for winter!

4 thoughts on “Repair a Leaking Metal Roof

  1. Am so glad you got this done before the rains. Well done!

    1. Yes, this was causing us a bit of stress. Nice to have the weight off our shoulders

  2. Clambering around barefoot on a rooftop, playing with aeroplane materials and marshmallow fluff. We have nothing to teach you about fun and games during lockdown.

    1. No virus can get us up there!

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