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How to Repair Any Roof
A leaking roof can cause serious and costly damage to your house. Infiltrating water can destroy drywall or plaster, cause mold, and even rot framing. You should repair a roof as soon as possible after the damage occurs. Dealing with a damaged roof is sometimes a simple matter of applying roofing cement to an obvious hole; at other times you will need to spend time diagnosing the problem and calculating the benefits of repairs versus installing a new roof. This section will guide you through repairs for all types of roofs.
Roofing diagnostics and triage
If a roof starts to leak, determine whether it is worthwhile to make permanent repairs or whether you need to apply new roofing. Here are your choices:
--If the roof is basically sound with only one or two weak spots, the damage may have come from a falling branch or a particularly severe windstorm. In that case make permanent repairs.
--If the roof shows signs of general wear, making repairs will solve the problem only temporarily; other leaks will soon appear. Start planning a reroof.
--If you can reroof soon but need a few weeks to plan and prepare, cover leaks with plywood or plastic sheets until you can start.
--If you need to wait a year or so, make permanent repairs now, such as replacing shingles. Inspect the attic after every rainfall and make further repairs or take steps to protect your interior spaces from water damage.
The importance of flashing
Often the culprit is not the roofing itself but the flashing that protects the joints between roofing and chimneys or walls. Valleys, which may or may not have flashing, are often a trouble spot.
If you have a longstanding problem, repairs can be tricky; it's not unusual for a roofer to make three or four attempts before finally fixing a chronic leak. In other cases the solution is obvious: A piece of flashing may be rusted through, may be missing, or may have come loose. Often you can simply apply roofing cement or a new piece of metal flashing to solve the problem.
This section will help you identify flashing problems, make some of the most common repairs, and determine when it is time to call in a pro.
A roof must breathe or moisture from the air will be trapped in the attic, ruining insulation and leading to mold and rot. This section will help you understand the principles of attic ventilation and show you how to install the most common venting products.Installing Shingles: How to Install Asphalt & Other Shingles
installing asphalt shingles
Asphalt shingles, also called composition shingles (they may be made largely of fiberglass), are the most common type of roofing for homes. They are inexpensive, come in a wide range of colors and profiles, are easy to install, and are suitable for a wide range of climates. This section shows how to install three-tab composition shingles, the most popular type. If you choose another kind, such as random-cutout or architectural (laminated) shingles, installation will be similar -- it could be even simpler. Be sure to follow manufacturer's recommendations printed on the bundle for nail positioning and shingle layout.
Nailing the shingles can be done by hand using a roofing hatchet, but working with any speed takes practice. (Years ago experienced roofers developed the technique of getting a nail ready between the two fingers of one hand while they pounded a nail -- usually in two whacks -- with the other hand.)
Today many pros and do-it-yourselfers prefer to apply roofing with a pneumatic nail gun and a compressor or a cordless power nailer. You can rent a pneumatic or power nailer from a home center or a rental store. Be sure to specify that you will use the nailer for roofing so you will get the right kind of nailer. Buy the correct nails for your situation when you pick up the rental equipment.
Another major advantage of power nailers is that you can work with gloves on -- hand-nailing requires at least one bare hand to hold the nails. Roofing is notoriously hard on hands; cold weather can make the job even more unpleasant. Gloves provide an added layer of protection, warmth, and a surer grip for handling bundles of shingles.Tearing Off Old Shingles
How to remove asphalt shingles from a roof and remove the resulting waste.
Stripping asphalt shingles from a roof is quicker and easier than you might expect -- the hard part is the waste removal. Gathering and carting off old shingles is a dirty, tiring job. It is well worth planning your project carefully.
Find a disposal company that will haul away old roofing. Call around for the best price. If you tell the salesperson how large the roof is, he or she should be able to estimate the size of trash container you will need. If you need two containers, have them delivered the same day so your house does not sit partially unprotected overnight.
It's easiest to shovel and sweep downward, so place the trash container beneath the largest portion of the roof if possible. Or you can lay a large tarp on the ground and shovel trash onto it. However, you will have to pick up the debris and transport it to the trash container in wheelbarrows.
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Leaky Roof Overview
If you have water stains that extend across ceilings or run down walls, the cause is probably a leaky roof. Tracking down the leak is the hard part; the roof leak repair is usually pretty easy. We'll show you some simple tricks for finding and repairing most of the common types of leaky roofs. But if you live in the Snow Belt and in the winter you have leaks only on warm or sunny days, you probably have ice dams. We won't go into that roof leak repair in this story. Check out this article for more on preventing ice dams.
If you have a leaky roof, you'd better fix it immediately, even if it doesn't bother you much or you're getting a new roof next year. Even over a short time, small leaks can lead to big problems, such as mold, rotted framing and sheathing, destroyed insulation and damaged ceilings. The flashing leak that caused an expensive repair bill was obvious from the ceiling stains for over two years. If the homeowner had dealt with it right away, the damage and subsequent repairs would have been minimal.
How to Find Roof Leaks
When you're trying to track down a leak, start by looking at the roof uphill from the stains. (Plus: here's how to clean roof stains.) The first thing to look for is any roof penetrations. Items that penetrate the roof are by far the most common source of leaks. In fact, it's rare for leaks to develop in open areas of uninterrupted shingles, even on older roofs. Penetrations can include plumbing and roof vents, chimneys, dormers or anything else that projects through the roof. They can be several feet above the leak or to the right or left of it.
If you have attic access, the easiest way to track down a leak is to go up there with a flashlight and look for the evidence. There will be water stains, black marks or mold. But if access is a problem or you have a vaulted ceiling, you'll have to go up onto the roof and examine the suspect(s).
A Trick for Finding Difficult Leaks
If a leak is difficult to find, enlist a helper and go up on the roof with a garden hose. Start low, soaking the area just above where the leak appears in the house. Isolate areas when you run the hose. For example, soak the downhill side of a chimney first, then each side, then the top on both sides. Have your helper stay inside the house waiting for the drip to appear. Let the hose run for several minutes in one area before moving it up the roof a little farther. Tell your helper to yell when a drip becomes visible. You'll be in the neighborhood of the leak. This process can take well over an hour, so be patient and don't move the hose too soon. Buy your helper dinner. If running water doesn't reveal the exact location of the leak, don't be timid. Start removing shingles in the suspect area. With them removed, there'll be evidence of the leak and you'll be able to track it down right to the source. You'll see discolored felt paper or water-stained or even rotted wood directly below and around a leaky roof.