What can I do myself, and what requires the help of a roofer?
Q: Recent high winds blew several shingles off my 10-year-old roof. Is there something I can do myself, or should I call a roofer?
A: If the roof is sloped low enough that you can safely walk on it, you may be able to repair the loose shingles yourself. Do not attempt to work on a steep sloped roof without having proper safety ropes, scaffold or ladders. One slip on a steep roof and there’s no stopping your slide to a certain fall.
If the roof is safe to walk on, add a tarp or other covering to the exposed or damaged area until you have the time and the resources to make the repairs.
A common 3-in-1 shingle is 36 inches long with two cuts in the shingle called “water marks.” Architectural shingles are heavier and thicker with an extra strip of roofing on each shingle, but the repairs are the same. On the top side of each 36-inch shingle there is a self-sealing strip to seal the shingle to the backside of the shingle directly above it. The purpose of the strip is to seal the shingles against wind, rain and snow.
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When the sealing strip has been damaged or the shingle has not been installed correctly, the shingle may become loose, exposing the home to water damage. If possible, gather up all the loose shingles for replacement or purchase similar shingles to match the existing roof.
Check to make sure each shingle was held in place with at least four roofing nails. The existing nails should have been placed in the self-sealing strip directly above each watermark and at both ends of each shingle.
To remove the loose shingles, use a handy bar or claw hammer to pull out the exposed nails. Break the seals of the existing shingle by sliding a putty knife under the shingles and gently pry apart. Place a putty knife, a piece of sheet metal or a thin piece of plywood under the edge of the pry bar to protect the undamaged shingles. Using a damp cloth, clean both sides of the loose shingle and the self-sealing strip on the existing shingle. Allow the areas to dry and apply a liberal amount of roofing sealant to the old self-sealing strip.
Slide the new or loose shingle in place and add four or more roofing nails, one above each watermark, and at each end of each shingle. Renail the existing top shingle if necessary, apply roofing sealant where needed and the repairs should be complete.
C. Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.