Most common roof leaks and how to fix them
Most small roof leaks can be fixed fairly inexpensively by yourself or if you hire a roofing contractor to do it for you. Most roof leaks are also very typical, so unless you have a really cut-up / complicated roof, finding and repairing a roof leak should not be a big deal.
A typical roof repair job will cost you about $50 in parts / material costs, plus your time and risk of falling off the roof. It will cost about $200-300 for you to hire a roofing contractor to repair these roof leaks, and there are roofing contractors that specialize in just roof repairs.
Words of caution: All the information below is provided as a reference only, and we are not responsible for any potential damages or injures. Before attempting any DIY roof repair projects, you should make sure to use appropriate fall protection, to avoid any injuries. You should also use a ladder stabilizer bar on your ladder to prevent it from sliding to the sides. Use utmost caution while on the roof. We always recommend hiring a professional roofing contractor to do any roof installation or repair work.
Replacing blown-off or damaged roof shingle(s):
Damaged or missing shingles are very common on older roofs or if your roof was installed with an improper nailing pattern. If you have one, two or a few blown-off or missing shingles, the new ones can be easily put back. If you have many – than you have a problem – especially if your roof is fairly new – this means your roof was installed incorrectly, and shingles will keep flying off the roof and at some point you may have to replace your roof completely.
Back to the blown-off or missing shingle repair. Each shingle on the roof is supposed to be nailed down with eight nails. Four at the top and four along the center line, just above the end of the overlapping shingle. This conceals the nails and lets the two shingles “glue” together. To repair a broken or missing shingle, you will need to remove nails from the actual shingle being repaired, and the shingle above it.
Things you will need for this repair:
You will need a bundle of new shingles – often left over from the installation, or you will have to buy a new color matching bundle of shingles. A flat ply bar, a hammer or a roof hatchet, a few roofing nails (unless you plan to reuse the nails that you will pull out) and a caulking gun with a tube of roof cement or roof caulking (I recommend using clear Solar Seal 900 rook caulk as in my experience it is the best roofing caulk I’ve tried).
You will need to separate the shingle being replaced from the shingle below it with a flat bar, and do the same with the shingle above it. Do this part gently as to not damage the other shingle, especially if the seal between shingles is tight. The best time to do this is when it’s not very hot or sunny out, as shingles will be cooler and easier to separate.
Once the exposed part of the shingle is loose, gently pull out the nails holding the damaged shingle and the nails holding the shingle above it. Pull out the damaged shingle, and replace it with a new shingle. Nail the shingle with four roofing nails across nailing line (about 1/2″ to 3/4″ above the edge of overlapping shingle). Nail the shingle above the new shingle the same way – voila, you just repaired your missing / broken / blown-off roof shingle. Do the same for other missing or broken shingles.
For more details watch the video below on how to replace roof shingles:
Replacing vent vent (stink pipe) flashing
Another typical roof leak type is a leak at a vent pipe penetration. There are multiple causes for this leak, and often it depends on the type of pipe flashing used. Nevertheless, whatever caused the leak is not very important, as typically it’s something with the flashing. Therefore the best way to repair this type of roof leak is to replace the actual pipe flashing.
Things you will need to replace leaking pipe flashing: A new pipe flashing – you can get it a your local Home Depot / Lowe’s or most other major home improvement stores. I recommend using an aluminum flange pipe flashing with rubber gasket on top for best performance. You will also need a tube of good roofing caulk, roofing nails and a few spare roof shingles, in case you damage some shingles in the process.
When replacing a pipe vent flashing, your will have to repeat some steps from above – namely, remove shingles from above the pipe flashing. Once you cleared out the shingles above the pipe, remove old flashing. Now take a new pipe flashing and apply a thick bead of roof caulk all around the underside of the flashing, about 1″ away from the edges. Place new flashing over the pipe and push all the way down. Apply pressure to the flange of the flashing to make good contact between caulk and shingles under the flashing. Nail down with at least 6 roofing nails, and use the roof caulk to seal all nails heads.
If the shingles you’ve removed were not damaged in the process, you can nail them back. If you did damage them, replace them with new shingles. Use an old shingle with pipe flashing shape cut out of it to replicate that shape on the new shingle. Apply a bead of caulk between the new flashing and shingles overlapping it from the top.
Video guide on How to Replace / Repair Pipe Flashing:
The Importance of Maintenance on Asphalt Shingles Roof:
Most people that have a roof replaced are usually relieved to have the job completed so the first thing they do is breath a sigh of relief in knowing that they’ve just put a big investment behind them and that their Roof will be in good shape for a number of years to come. While this may be true they usually fail at the important task of Roof maintenance, which just like your vehicle needs a tune up from normal wear an tear.
Don’t let your roof turn into this:
If you think about it, a roof takes a real beating from the elements and still looks nice for many years, matches your home’s color scheme and protects everything you hold valuable inside your home. The same way you rely on your car to perform and take you from point A to point B day in and day out, you rely on your Roof to take you from Summer to Winter, year after year. Don’t neglect your roof – give it a good tune up every two to three years and at least have it inspected yearly to make sure everything is still fine up there.
So where do you start with Roof Maintenance?
Here is a checklist of 11 things to do, to extend the life of your roof:
1.) Check Pipe Boots – re-seal around pipe or change boot flashing if it’s cracked or dry rotted.
2.) Flashing – re-caulk all step and counter flashings, check for bends, splits etc. Change damaged step-flashing where necessary.
3.) Check all hot stacks, storm collars make sure nothing is loose.
4.) Repair any nail pops.
5.) Repair any loose or missing roof shingles.
6.) Get in the Attic to make sure the Soffits do not have insulation blocking free air flow. Check all sheathing to make sure there is no dry rot.
7.) Check the Ridge Vent on the Roof peak to make sure everything is nailed tight and all Hip & Ridge capping is in good shape.
8.) Check any Roof Skylights for Cracks, Leaks or Fogged glass/plastic.
9.) Check all guttering and downspouts (gutter drains) to make sure nothing is clogged and that the gutters are nailed tight so all rain water flows properly.
10.) Make sure any Tree branches are not resting on the Roof, If any excessive Tree limbs are hanging over the home suggest a Tree Removal company come out to trim back the branches.
11.) Improve the insulation and ventilation of your attic space, to reduce heat loss and prevent ice dams – one of the most common causes of roof leaks in the winter.
Watch a quick roof repair video on how to replace a missing / broken roofing shingle yourself:
These are the basics for a typical Asphalt Shingled Roofing system. Obviously if there have been leaks or water stains on the ceilings you need to pinpoint the cause and fix it promptly and if the Roof seems like it has too many things wrong or the granules are simply coming off the shingles suggest Roof Replacement.