Roofing Repair: An Overview of Common Repairs

A general overview of common roofing repair, from simple leaks to major overhauls

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The need for roofing repair tends to arise without warning. One day, you’re walking from the living room to the kitchen and notice a puddle developing on the floor as water slowly drips down through the ceiling. Sometimes, these leaks arise well before you need to replace your roof.

It’s an unfortunate and expensive side effect of being a homeowner. And it’s not necessarily an easy fix. Pinpointing leaks can be challenging in itself. Repairing them is another matter all together.

Whether you decide to tackle the project yourself or hire a professional, knowing the basic process behind roofing repair tends to pay off in the end.

Here’s a run-down of typical roofing repair.

Find the leak

Sure, you can see the water dripping in your home, so you have a good idea where the leak is coming from. That will give you a starting point, but it’s not that simple.

Most leaks are a result of missing or damaged roofing material, including cracks, warping, and blisters. Sometimes there are no signs of a leaky roof. When this occurs it’s generally best to contact a roofer, because it could be a sign of internal damage or large-scale deterioration.

Fix the leak

The range of difficulty in roofing repair for a leak could vary immensely. In the simplest cases, a curled piece of roofing material in hot weather is pliable enough to be easily straightened out. In other cases, multiple rotting pieces of roofing material signify major damage and could require a major overhaul.

In order from easiest to most difficult, here is a list of standard roofing repair:

Curled shingle in hot weather: In hot weather, curled shingles become pliable enough to be straightened. Just bend them back into shape with the tool of your choosing.

Missing roofing material: Generally speaking, all that’s necessary to repair missing roofing material is plenty of cement placed in the gap, followed by pressing the new piece of roof in place. Depending on the material, the adhesive may vary to include other substances such as tar.

Curled shingle in cold weather: If its cold, a curled shingle should be heated up before it’s flattened or there’s a risk of breakage. The best tool for the job is a propane torch, which should be held at a distance to heat up the sides of the shingles. If held too close, it can set the shingles on fire. When the shingle is warm, bend it back into shape.

Damaged roofing material: Damaged roofing material requires some delicate removal. This starts with the edges, followed by removing any nails holding it in place. Remove the piece of the roof--generally by sliding it out--then scrape off any chunks of cement and pry out any protruding nails. You can then set a new piece of roofing material in place.

If the roof is shake, removal is a bit more tedious. This requires a hammer and chisel to break the broken piece of roof into chunks that can then be removed. Because of the layout of shake, nails can’t be pried out. Nails must be cut down with a saw. Cut a new piece of shake about 3/8ths of an inch smaller than the gap in the roof to allow room for the shake to expand during rain and slide it into place, followed by nailing and caulking.

Mass rotting and invisible leaks: An area with significant rot generally suggests an underlying issue that can’t be resolved with simple roofing repair. Likewise, if you can’t find the source of the leak, there could be major issues below the surface. In these cases, it’s generally best to contact a roofer.

There are other issues that may arise with roofs, and due to the wide array of different roofing material, this may not cover all roofing repair. Sometimes the best strategy is to repair small leaks and see what happens. If no further problems arise the job was likely accomplished successfully. If problems linger, call a roofer.

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