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Repairing an Asphalt Roof

The roof is leaking. It is not a major water deluge, but the water is definitely coming in somewhere. When money is tight, you might think about repairing the roof yourself. Minor repairs are certainly within the skills of many homeowners.

Learning how to repair a asphalt roof begins with understanding where the leak is coming from. Sometimes it is not as easy as you might think. You have water stains on the ceiling. You go up into the attic and find wet insulation. You look above the wet insulation and find a drip. You have found the leak, right?

Maybe, maybe not.

Water travels the path of least resistance. The water may be traveling along a rafter before hitting the drip spot. You have to find the point where water is penetrating the roof. Here are some suggestions:

  • Check the underside of the roof
  • Check the rubber boots around plumbing vents and skylights
  • Look for curled, missing, or damaged shingles
  • Look for flashing pulling away from chimneys and knee walls
  • Check valleys and peaks

These are all common ways water will come into the attic and start leaks.

The next step is to assess the amount of damage the water has done. What may seem like a minor leak below can actually be a major roof problem above. Here are some scenarios to consider:

  • A simple drip is a minor repair. Sagging, soggy roof decking is a major repair.
  • A single missing shingle is a minor repair. A large patch of damaged and missing hinges is a major repair.
  • A cracked pipe vent gasket is a minor repair. A 10 foot line of flashing pulling away from the chimney and knee wall is a major repair.

If you have a major roof repair, bring in the professionals. Your roof is the first line of defense your home has against wind and rain. When you have a major problem, your DIY skills are not enough. A good roofing contractor can assess the situation and make the repair quickly.

If you have a minor roof repair, you can try the fix on your own. What do you need to know on how to repair a asphalt roof?

  • You will need some basic tools and supplies. Depending on the repair, you will need an extension ladder, nails, roofing sealer, a hammer, extra shingles, a pry bar, a utility knife, and asphalt roof cement.
  • With asphalt shingle, you want to work on a warm day when the roofing materials are flexible and not brittle.
  • When dealing with damaged shingles, you need to remove the old ones first. Gently pry up the roofing nails and remove the damaged one. Assess all shingles around the damage for any hidden problems. Remove all damaged shingles.
  • To replace missing shingles or those you removed, slide the replacement shingle under the row above and align it with the shingles to either side. Secure it to the roof deck with galvanized roofing nails. Cover nail heads with roofing sealant. This works for a single shingle or a row of them.
  • While up on the roof, look around for any other damage. You may find that what appears like a simple roof leak is a major problem.

Leave any major roof repair to the professionals. If you feel like a minor repair has turned into a major problem, that is the time to make the call. When you are learning how to repair a asphalt roof, you need to know when a job is too big for your skills and call the roofing professionals in. That is the smart way to do a roof repair.

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