Roofing Helper Title
The New Roof Buyer's Guide

Do-it-Yourself Roof Repairs

While there are certainly times when only professional roofing help will do, there are some situations that a do-it-yourself type person might be able to handle. Some problems, like significant leaks, are usually best left to roofing contractors. Here are some popular roof problems and suggestions on how they can be addressed:

Keeping Safe

Keeping safe while you're up on the roof is the top priority. Some preparation and basic common sense will help avoid accidents:

  • If possible, work with a partner and watch out for each other
  • Don't work in the rain, ice, excessive wind or other extreme weather conditions
  • Wear appropriate clothing and shoes
  • Work during daylight hours
  • Use a safety harness attached to a stable structure, like a chimney
  • Use ladders wisely: consider investing in a roofer's ladder that allows extensive roof work by using special attachments. Also, enter the roof using an extension ladder that is securely fasted to the house in more than one place.
  • Try to minimize the amount of walking around on the roof to avoid damage to the roof and/or potential falls

Replacing Shingles

Wood-shingle roofs consist of thousands of single shingles and damage to some of them is practically guaranteed. Here's how to fix a broken shingle:


Hacksaw blade
Utility knife
Galvanized cedar shingle nails
Wood block
  1. Split the shingle into a few pieces, using a hammer and chisel. Pull these pieces out with pliers. " Using a hacksaw blade, slide it under the shingle above the damaged one to cut the nails that secured the old shingle.
  2. Trim the new shingle using a utility knife to fit into the old shingle's place " Put the new shingle in place and tap it to one inch of its final lace
  3. Insert two galvanized cedar shingle nails at an upward angle, below the butt edge of the shingle above.
  4. Tap the new shingle into place using a wood block and hammer.

Repairing Shingles

With a few tools and a little elbow grease, shingles can be repaired fairly easily.

Tube of roofing cement
Piece of aluminum flashing
Flat pry bar
  1. Size up the flashing by cutting it approximately one inch narrower than the ripped tab and 4 inches longer (you want it to extend under the tabs on both sides).
  2. Loosen the damaged tab and the left and right tabs by using a flat pry bar.
  3. Underneath the shingle, put on two or three thick beads of roofing cement.
  4. Slide the flashing underneath and put more roofing cement on top of the flashing.
  5. Push down on the tab so the flashing sticks to the roof.

Avoiding Ice Dams

The sight of a snow-covered roof is a lovely one, but the havoc it can wreak on a home is most certainly not. Oftentimes, piles of snow on a roof can melt quickly due to the heat from a furnace in the attic, which results in a pool of water trapped at the eaves. This melted snow then refreezes when it comes into contact with the eaves and can then sometimes get under the shingles and drip into the house. Not a winter wonderland by any stretch of the imagination! Here are some tips to prevent the inside of your home from becoming soggy this winter.

First, note the signs of an ice dam. This can be a line of moisture on a ceiling, called "shadow lines". This strip of moisture can result in mildew (which can usually be addressed with a bleach solution). To prevent ice dams from happening in the first place, keep the underside of the roof deck at 30 degrees. Keeping the roof cold, rather than warm, helps slow down the snow melting process. Warm roofs accelerate the process and that's how you end up with ice dams on your roof. The way to maintain this roof temperature is to ensure that your attic has adequate insulation and is properly sealed to prevent warm air from entering the attic from the house. Proper ventilation of the attic is important as well, with cold air coming in and warm air escaping quickly.

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Buyer's Guide Contents
How Roofs Work
Causes of Roof Problems
Composite and Tile Roofs
Metal Roofs
Roof Price Comparison
Roofing Estimates
Roof Shopping Tips
Our New Roof Installation
The Finished Product
Roof Replacement Checklist
Do-it-Yourself Roof Repairs

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