How to Fix a Roof

Knowing how to fix a roof covers a number of different types of repairs, all of which have the same goal-keeping you and your home dry. Being able to keep your roof in good repair will save you money and help keep the interior of your home safe from extensive water damage.

Fix A Roof Right The First Time

Storm damage, failed sealant or deterioration of single or multiple tiles is the typical cause of minor roof damage. A leak may be the first sign, but a regular quick visual inspection can help catch roof damage before it leads to bigger problems. Here's what to do if you're unsure of how to fix a roof:

  • Safety first. Before you work on your Santa Claus act, make sure you're working safe. Save roof repairs for calm, sunny days-a stiff breeze or damp roof are invitations to trouble. Always use a safety rope and harness for those moments when your sense of balance lets you down. Finally, be aware of limbs and power lines near the roof and avoid obstacles as you work.
  • What you'll need. Most roof repairs to shingled roofs can be accomplished with a short list of tools and materials. You'll need a thin-blade pry bar, a claw hammer, a utility knife, roofing cement in caulk tubes, 1" or 1-1/2" roof nails, some matching replacement shingles and perhaps some galvanized roof flashing.
  • Clearing damaged shingles. Once you've located damaged shingles, use the pry bar to gently lift the edges of adjacent good shingles. Carefully bend back good shingles away from the damaged ones. Remove damaged shingles, any nails you can see and any chunks of adhesive left behind.
  • Replacing shingles. Starting at the bottom of the repair area, line up new shingles along a row and nail them in with a single nail at each corner. Cover each nail head with roofing cement. When you get to the top of the repair area, test fit a shingle for length-you may have to trim it shorter to match existing shingles in the row. Round the top corners of the last shingles to make them easier to slide under existing shingles. Apply roofing cement to the backs of surrounding shingles and press them back in place.
  • At its peak. Ridge shingles, the tent shaped shingles along the peak of your roof can be replaced in the same manner as standard shingles. Make sure you use ridge shingles as replacements-flat shingles should never be bent to double as ridge shingles.
  • A flash in the pan. Metal flashing is typically used to deflect water around chimneys and in valleys. Flashing is sealed with roofing cement that sometimes becomes dry and cracked. Repair any gaps in the seals around flashing with fresh roofing cement.
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