Homeowners today are making measured, timely decisions about their homes that take care of improvement projects like structural fixes or replacement before they become emergencies. In this way, homeowners are protecting their property as well as their investment, financial and otherwise. In part one of our series that tackles structural home fixes, we explore options for fixing or replacing your roof.
Your first decision should be based on a thorough inspection of the roof to determine whether simple patching or repair can repair leaks or other damage you may find – or if it is better for the life of your home to replace the roof entirely. Before the inspection, hire a professional cleaning service or rent a pressure washer to clean the roof, especially if it has moss or a fair amount of debris on its surface. This allows for you to better evaluate the actual condition of the roof. Continue the inspection inside the attic, if possible – especially if you find evidence of leaks.
General Roof Repair
If you find damage to shingles resulting from wind, weather or fallen limbs, it is usually easy and inexpensive to fix:
- Inspect under the shingles, making sure the roof deck is sound.
- Remove any worn, torn or damaged shingles and replace with new ones. It’s always a good idea to store new shingles that match the existing roof just for this type of repair. However, you can have the building contractor order matching shingles for you, or you can go with a new one, even if it’s not an exact match.
- Consistently replacing worn shingles could extend the life of the roof by 10 years or more.
If you find evidence of leaks, such as discolored felt paper under the shingles, other water stains and especially rotted wood around plumbing boots, vents, chimneys, windows, dormers or anything else that is built through the roof, you can still make a fix:
- If the leak is due to condensation on cold “shiners,” nails that have missed their mark, clip it with a side-cutting pliers.
- If a plumbing vent is torn, rotted, cracked or has broken seams, replace it with a new one. If the vent is in good shape, but nails are missing or pulled free, replace them with the rubber-washer screws used for metal roofing systems. Be careful when removing shingles around the fix so they can be reused.
- To repair around windows or dormers, make sure the area is still sealed using a putty knife. Dig in to reveal any old, crumbling caulk. Remove all of it and re-caulk using a silicon latex caulk. Replace any cracked, rotting or missing siding, overlapping the step flashing by at least two inches.
- If the flashing around a chimney is rusted through, either slip new flashing under the old or cut what’s called a saw kerf into the mortar and install new flashing.
- If the step flashing along walls is rusted through, replace it with new flashing. If the flashing has come loose, exposing the wall, re-position it and re-nail to the roof.
- If you find tiny holes in any shingles or in the roof, do not inject caulking into them. Fix the holes by using flashing.
When It’s Time for a New Roof
- If your roof is more than 20 years old – the projected life of any roofing surface – it’s time for a new roof.
- If just part of the roof is significantly showing its age, and you live in a severe weather area, replace the entire roof.
- If you find evidence of a worn or damaged roof deck, do a replacement, so it too can be repaired or in some extreme cases, replaced.
Do the Job Right
Save yourself the hassle of continuous interruptions to the project by having these tools and materials on hand before you start:
- Caulk gun
- Cordless drill/driver
- Pry bar
- Putty knife
- Tin snips
- Garden hose
- Metal flashing
- Roof caulk
- Siding caulk
- Roofing nails
- Rubber-washer screws
- Roof vents
- Plumbing boots
Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with home fixes and repairs. Learn more by reading our blog, Repair and Prepare Your Shingles and Windows for Winter in 6 Easy Steps and if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.