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Know which repairs you can fix yourself, and when it’s best to call a professional

Roofing manufacturers are usually very specific about how repairs should be made to their products. Take nails, for example. Most manufacturer’s installation instructions specify what size nail should be used, and warranty coverage may depend on how many nails are used to install each shingle.

Check your manufacturer’s warranty and installation instructions before starting a do-it-yourself roof repair.

Think you have a leaky roof?

If you’ve noticed signs of a leak, it’s important to determine the source. Start by looking for water stains inside your house, then track down the spot on your roof that corresponds with it. One good rule of thumb is to look “uphill” from the ceiling stain. If you have an attic with a full floor, you may be able to pinpoint the leak by checking for stains, black marks or mold on the underside of your roof.

If you don’t see anything there, check the walls and windows – not all leaks come from your roof. If you don’t have attic access or your attic doesn’t have a full floor making it too dangerous to enter, you can head up to the roof — with plenty of caution — and look for these three common issues:

  • Damaged or missing shingles
  • Gaps on or near flashing material found around vents and other openings
  • Loose or deteriorating roof vent coverings

How to replace shingles

Damaged shingles should be removed and replaced.

    • To remove damaged shingles: Slide a pry bar under the shingle above it, then use a hammer to take out the nails of the broken one. Scrape the area to remove any roof cement left behind.

 

  • To replace a shingle: Gently lift the shingle above the one you want to replace, and align the new shingle underneath. Nail in the headlap so the shingle above covers the nail and hand seal the shingle. Finish with a trowel, by applying roof cement over the nails and each edge of the new shingle. Be sure to check the manufacture installation instructions for proper nail-size to use and how many nails are used to install each shingle.

How to repair gaps on roofs joints

For gaps on or near flashing Thin aluminum sheets, called flashing, typically get installed under shingles to build a form-fitting barrier around anything that juts through a roof (a chimney, for example). Look for gaps in caulk, sealant or cracks on or around your roof’s flashing. If you find a gap under ¼”, it may be a simple fix once you brush away debris and old sealant remnants. Just apply roof cement with a putty knife to any cracks you see in the sealant around the flashing. However, it’s always a good idea to bring in a professional to assess the situation first.

For loose or deteriorating vent boots A vent boot is a covering with rubber casing that fits tightly over vents, which look like pipes that stick out of the roof. Leaks can be caused by breaks in the flashing below the boot or from roof decay. If the entire boot is damaged, pull it off by removing the rubber around the vent with a knife, then use a pry bar to break the seal on any shingles connected to it. Slide the new boot over the vent, under the shingles and onto the roof. Secure it with roofing nails and replace any shingles that have been damaged around the vent boot and hand seal shingles with asphalt roof cement.