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I recently discovered there's a corner of my flat roof that was poorly installed and has lead to a leak and some rotting. So far there are no signs of interior damage but it will likely be several weeks to a couple months until I can get a proper repair done.

Any thoughts on the best way to temporarily cover the problem area in a way that can be easily removed later?

I've considered getting some plastic sheeting and taping it to the vinyl siding, but I'm not sure what tape I could use that will stick and also not be a pain to get off.

problem area general area view

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    Yikes. That's been a problem for a long time. A few more weeks probably won't matter much.
    – isherwood
    Nov 24, 2020 at 15:55
  • @isherwood Yeah, I was thinking the same unfortunately. It's really obvious when you look at it, but it's in awkward spot that could be easily missed. (Unfortunately, my home inspector missed it when I bought the place.) Nov 24, 2020 at 16:04
  • More evidence that home inspections are pointless. Those folks mostly exist to justify their own existence. My advice is to always get a builder or other actual expert on site.
    – isherwood
    Nov 24, 2020 at 16:26
  • @isherwood He was actually pretty helpful with a number of other things. But it is unfortunate that this was missed. Nov 24, 2020 at 17:57

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You'll need some plastic sheeting (reinforced, ideally, as in a medium-weight tarp or mesh-embedded poly), and you'll need some lumber. 1x4s and 2x4s in eight- to twelve-foot lengths would be good. Even better if they roughly match the width of your sheeting roll or tarp.

  1. Roll out a length of sheeting that's as long as the slope of your roof plus 6 feet.

  2. At one end, roll a board into the sheeting for three wraps. Keep it neat and tight.

  3. Lay another board over the wraps and screw it to the wrapped board, sandwiching the sheeting.

  4. Do the same at the other end. The result should be leave you with the roof dimension plus about 16" between the wrapped boards.

  5. Drape this assembly over the roof, with the lumber hanging off the high and low edges of the roof. It should be completely flat so as to not catch water anywhere. The dropped ends shouldn't be so long as to sway in the wind and cause damage or lift. Shorten the assembly if needed.

  6. If needed, repeat this process and install additional runs with a 2-3 foot lap on the side.

  7. Lay lumber down the edges of the runs, stapling from below to keep it from sliding off the roof. It's critical to keep the wind from lifting the edges. If that happens the whole thing becomes a parachute.

             <-- slope direction -->
          ___________________________________________ <---- lumber on edges 
       __|___________________________________________|__    (stapled to sheet)
     _|  ---------------------------------------------  |_
    | | |                       ^-- roof              | | |
    |_| |<-- fascia or wall                           | |_| <-- wrapped lumber
    
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  • One additional note: Tape (duct or packing) should be used at the overlapped seams to A) help keep water from getting between layers, and B) keep cross-winds from picking up an edge and throwing it off the roof in the other direction.
    – FreeMan
    Nov 24, 2020 at 14:47
  • Good suggestion, but neither of those types will hold well to polyethylene sheeting.
    – isherwood
    Nov 24, 2020 at 14:50
  • Some sort of tape/sealant. Heat sealing would probably be idea, yet impractical...
    – FreeMan
    Nov 24, 2020 at 14:57
  • Thanks for this. Since the problem is in the corner up against a wall, what's the best way to seal this to the wall to prevent leaks there? (photos added to question) Nov 24, 2020 at 15:41
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    Not really. You'll probably end up with some Googone on your hands. :)
    – isherwood
    Nov 24, 2020 at 16:26
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Now that we've seen the picture...

Hot glue, rubber cement or contact cement may hold.

  • Hot glue will definitely come off cleanly with a minimum of effort, but I'm not sure how well it would hold to either the siding or the plastic sheeting.

  • Rubber cement will also come of cleanly, but again, I'm not sure how well it will hold.

  • Contact cement should hold pretty well, but I don't know how well it will come off.

Since both hot glue & rubber cement should clean up very nicely, it would be a simple matter to test them out and see how well they hold.

If neither proves suitable, contact cement would be worth a test. If you can find a scrap of (vinyl?) siding in the garage, it would be worth testing it on that while you're trying out the others, to see if it will clean off reasonably enough. If you can't find a scrap, look for a construction site around town somewhere and ask if you can have a scrap of siding. They sure won't care if you're carting off some of their garbage for them, but it's nice to ask first. Of course, if nobodies on site in the evening, and you're just taking a little scrap left on the ground...

A clear silicone caulk would certainly hold, and if it's only up over the winter, it should come off mostly easily in the spring. Any amounts that may get stuck into the embossed wood grain in the siding should mostly disappear since the caulk is clear. You may notice some yellowing/dirtying in 5 or 10 years and decide to get more aggressive about removing it then.

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    Thanks! Caulk around some sheeting sounds like a reasonable approach. I might actually have some siding scraps to test on. Nov 24, 2020 at 18:02

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