When your roof is damaged, you must decide whether to repair or replace it. RoofX can help you make that decision.
Look for craters and dents on asphalt shingles and cracked housings on plastic or metal vent boots. These can leak water into your home.
Leaking roofs are the most common problem and can create significant damage in a short period. They can cause brown stains on the ceiling, ruin insulation, and even rot wood in attics and crawl spaces. They also compromise air circulation in attics and make drywall water-logged, which can lead to mold and mildew. If you can catch a leak early on, a patch or seal can stop the flow and reduce the damage to your home.
However, before you try to perform a DIY repair, think about your skill level and safety. Working on a roof can be dangerous and you may need access equipment, such as ladders and scaffolding, to get close enough to the problem area. If you decide to attempt a temporary fix, first clear away any water-logged or moldy drywall and cover the damaged area with tar paper or plastic sheeting.
Next, locate the source of the leak. This can be tricky, as a leak in one part of the roof can travel far before it appears in the living space below. If possible, try to follow the trail of water stains to see where it goes in your attic or attic crawlspace. If there is visible rot or extensive water damage, you should probably leave the repairs to a professional.
Another way to locate a roof leak is to use a water test. With a helper watching from inside the house, have someone spray the roof with a garden hose. Soak specific areas for several minutes at a time, and have your helper yell when they see a drip. This can help find a small leak or a leak that has spread from its initial location, and it can be especially helpful around openings in the roof like vents, dormers, attic fans, chimneys, and pipes.
Sometimes the leak is caused by a vent boot that is cracked or missing, or by a chimney that has a metal top that corrodes over time. These types of leaks are usually easy to spot and repair, but they require a skilled professional to address the underlying problems.
Wind and harsh weather can wreak havoc on roof shingles, causing them to become loose or even fall off. If only a few shingles are damaged, it’s usually possible to repair them without replacing the entire roof. If, however, a lot of shingles are blown off in a storm, it’s probably more cost-effective to replace the whole roof.
Getting to the damaged shingles isn’t difficult as long as you follow basic safety precautions when climbing a ladder and using tools on a rooftop. Get a good pair of safety goggles and non-slip footwear, and make sure your ladder is securely in place with someone at the base to keep it upright. Gather a few supplies, including a pry bar, hammer, utility knife, and replacement shingles. You’ll also need a handful of 1-1/4-inch roofing nails.
Start by sliding the pry bar beneath a shingle directly above the damaged one, gently lifting it to break the sealer strip connection and reveal the first row of nails underneath. Carefully lift up the shingle and remove it, being careful not to pull up any nails in the adjacent rows of shingles.
Repeat the process for shingles two rows above the damaged ones, until you have pulled up enough to expose the nails under them. When the nail heads are exposed, use a drill with a masonry bit to grind them flat. Then, apply a small amount of roof cement over each exposed nail head.
If the damaged shingle is simply curled or cracked, you don’t have to replace it. Just apply a thick bead of roof sealant under the crack and press down flat. Weigh it down with a brick for 24 hours.
If a new shingle is too big to fit the gap, slightly round the back corners of the replacement with a utility knife. Then slide it into the gap, aligning its front edge with shingles on either side and its back edge under the shingles in the row above. Nail it in place with the roofing nails, being sure to cover each corner with roof cement.
Flashings are a specialty element of roof design that perform the same function as shingles but in more specialized locations like seams, corners, and areas around important roof features such as chimneys, skylights, vents, and gutters. Flashing channels rainwater away from these critical areas to prevent water penetration into the underlying roofing deck. If you notice leaks in these areas, it’s likely due to problems with your roof flashings.
Flashing is typically made from galvanized steel or copper. Unlike shingles, which can be repaired with common roofing cement, you will need to replace your roof flashings if they are damaged. Ideally, you should work with a roofing contractor to replace damaged flashings. However, if you are a do-it-yourselfer, it is possible to make small repairs to your flashings with basic tools.
When flashings are installed correctly, they have hemmed edges that create air gaps that resist capillary migration of moisture. The hemmed edges also provide strong support to the shingles covering the flashing. When installing flashings, it is important to remember that they should not be hammered flat. Hems should be turned up to the shingle surface and secured with metal cleats.
There are several types of flashings, each serving different purposes in the roof. For instance, chimney flashing requires two pieces of flashing, called base and counter flashings, to ensure that rain always meets a flashing surface to be directed downward. Another example is step flashing, which is a rectangular piece of flashing that is bent 90 degrees in the middle and installed at a corner where a roof meets a wall.
Using a cutting snip or pair of shears, carefully cut your flashing to the correct size. Ensure the length is equal to the distance from the edge of your roof to the corner of the structure. It’s best to install the flashing before reshingling the area.
Use a metal soldering tool to solder the flashing joints, as standard caulk and black roofing cement will degrade over time. Be sure to only use flashing materials that can be soldered, such as lead, traditional tin, or galvanized steel.
Gutters are an essential part of a roof system, but they’re often overlooked. If you don’t clean them regularly, clogged gutters can cause water to overflow from the trough and spill over the sides of the gutter, or pool and refreeze in winter, causing damage to your siding and landscape. Gutters are also prone to sagging, which can be caused by excess rainfall or if they’re not sloped properly to drain standing water. To fix a sagging gutter, you need to add more supports.
Before you start to repair a gutter, make sure your ladder is stable and you’re comfortable working from a high perch. If you’re unsure of your abilities, it may be a good idea to hire a professional to help you with the repair.
The main function of gutters is to carry rainwater away from the house and into downspouts. However, gutters can be damaged by excess rainfall or debris, and can leak due to cracks or holes. Gutters are usually constructed of either aluminum or copper, and they’re susceptible to corrosion. Rust can eat through the metal, and dents or punctures may occur from falling branches or sharp tools.
Begin your repair by thoroughly cleaning the area around the hole with a putty knife or plastic gutter scoop. If you’re dealing with rust, wear leather work gloves and scrub the rusted area with a wire brush or use aviation snips to cut off any patches of rust.
Next, prep the area for patching by wiping down the surface with a damp cloth or sponge. Then, place a dab of the silicone sealant on a putty knife and spread it over the hole until there’s a consistent layer. Allow the sealant to dry completely before applying another coat, if needed.
If your gutters are sagging, the hangers that hold them may be loose. If you can access the hanger, you can renail it using 6d galvanized roofing nails, then cover the nail heads with roof cement to prevent future leaks. Otherwise, you’ll need to replace the fascia bracket or strap hanger with a new one.