Dealing with a damaged roof can be one of the most expensive repairs a homeowner faces.
Depending on the size and type of damage, you could be looking at a pretty penny for repairs.
Thankfully, a simple roof shingle repair is easier than some might think.
Use this guide to determine the level of damage you’re facing. Then decide whether a DIY fix or a professional roofing contractor is the way to go.
Assessing the Damage
Storm damage is the most common kind of roof damage. Wind and hail can be especially damaging to asphalt shingles, which are still by far the most popular kind of roofing material.
If you have an asphalt roof, start by inspecting the surface of your roof from below. Walk all the way around your home looking for torn, curled or missing shingles. Anything that doesn’t match the appearance of the shingles around it is a red flag.
Hail damage is harder to find. The impact of hail doesn’t usually tear or move the shingles. Instead, it dislodges the protective granules on the shingles. This makes them less effective at protecting against the rain and sun.
Next, it’s time to move inside. Head up to your attic and look for any wet spots, mold or other signs of water. During a mild rainstorm is the best time to do this.
If you see any sign of water, it’s time to call the professionals. Once roof damage has reached the point of water intrusion you need a skilled contractor to pinpoint the source.
If the damage is limited in size and your roof is still watertight, you may be able to do the repair yourself.
Repair or Replace
The first question to ask when you notice roof damage is whether you should repair or replace your roof. Every roof has an expiration date. It’s important to factor that in when deciding how to deal with roof damage.
The next question is how extensive the damage is. If you’re looking at extensive damage, it’s almost always a better idea to fully replace your roof. The same applies if the structure of your home was damaged. Repair crews may need to remove more asphalt shingles to get at the damage.
Think about the age of your roof. If you have a 21-year-old asphalt roof with minor damage, it’s better to go ahead and replace it. A one-year-old roof will be different. It may be more economical to repair even large amounts of damage.
Don’t forget to factor in your situation as well. Think about how long you plan to stay in your home. It doesn’t make sense to invest in a new roof right before you move.
Basic Roof Shingle Repair
Okay, so you’ve decided to repair instead of replace. Now what? If you’re dealing with minor damage you might be able to DIY it.
A general disclaimer first, working on a roof is dangerous if done improperly. Always be careful when walking on your roof, both to prevent further damage and to protect yourself. If you don’t feel completely comfortable, it’s better to call a professional. Never work on a roof that is wet, icy, or during windy conditions.
For a few curled or missing shingles it’s relatively easy to glue them back down or replace them. To replace shingles you’ll need a hammer, utility knife, flat pry bar, and roofing nails.
- Slide your pry bar under the row of shingles just above the ones you need to replace.
- Gently lift up to release the sealing strip, this will expose the nails holding them down.
- Pull each nail in turn.
- Once you’ve pulled them loose you can safely remove the damaged shingles and hammer a new set down.
- Repeat for the first row you loosened.
Cracked or curling shingles are even easier. Simply use a quality roofing sealant to reattach them to your roof and weight them down for 24 hours.
Other Roof Materials
“But wait!,” you say, “I don’t have an asphalt roof.” Here are the signs of damage and some of your options for other common roof types.
Slate roofs are classicly styled and highly durable roofs. Unfortunately, they can also suffer damage. Slate can be damaged by sudden impacts such as from hail or falling limbs.
Look for broken or cracked slate shingles around your roof. Also, check for pieces of broken shingle around the perimeter of your home.
Because of the high cost and brittle nature of slate, it’s recommended that you hire a professional to repair it.
Metal is one of the most durable forms of roofing available today. Metal roofs laugh at hail and wind that would destroy asphalt or tile roofs. The only real threat to a metal roof is rust and impact damage such as from a falling tree limb.
Metal roofs are generally made of either coated or galvanized steel. Rust only becomes an issue if this coating isn’t properly maintained. Make sure to periodically check your roof for scratches and signs of rust.
If you have small rust spots on your roof you can likely scrub them off. Start with a firm brush and detergent to remove any dirt, mold or other buildup. Then use steel wool to scour out as much rust as possible. Finish off with a generous coating of rust inhibitor to prevent a recurrence.
The process for a tile roof is very similar to slate. Look for cracked or out of place tiles. Check the ground around your home for small pieces or entire tiles. A tile roof is more resistant to damage than an asphalt one but isn’t indestructible.
Know When to Call a Professional
Always be aware of your comfort zone when thinking about a roof shingle repair. Twenty feet up and sliding down the side of your house isn’t the time to realize you don’t like heights.
If you have a roof that’s showing signs of wear or damage, contact us for a free estimate on repairs or replacement.