Repairing your own roof might sound like a tough task at first glance, but don’t give up just yet. Many homeowners don’t think they’re up for the challenge and choose to call on professionals for roof repairs instead. However, fixing up a leaking roof or replacing old shingles can actually be quite simple for a knowledgeable family handyman.
Repairing your damaged roof (or ultimately opting for an entire replacement) is a smart way to boost and maintain your home’s curb appeal. DIY roof repairs can also keep your house protected while putting more money back in your pocket— and who could ever complain about that? If your family handyman is ready to give DIY roof repairs a try, read through this helpful guide first, complete with the most effective tips and tricks for a successful roof repair.
Identifying Your Roof Damage
Have you noticed several rows of curling shingles, failing step flashing edges or a leaky roof after a particularly nasty bout of rain or snow? If you answered yes to experiencing any of these issues, you might be due for some DIY roof repairs.
But first, you have to figure out exactly what caused your current roofing issues to address the problem properly.
There is an extensive range of ways your roof, shingles, step flashing, and more can fail throughout the year or fall into disrepair over time. As one of your home’s primary lines of defense against the outside elements, your roof is often exposed to harsh weather and other factors that can cause anything from minor issues to more extensive damage.
Some of the most common examples of roof damage include:
- Loose or broken roof shingles
- Structural damages
- Water damage or roof leaks
- Punctures and cracks
- Age and time
- Sagging roof deck
- Rust and staining
- Mold or moss
- Storm damage
Minor leaks, and a loose shingle here or there are typically quick fixes, but severe structural damage might make your DIY repair job more difficult. If your issues are too extensive, simply seek out a quality roof repair company for reliable services.
Any experienced roofing professional can provide new shingles, resolve a roof leak, and ensure everything from your gutters and flashing to your new shingles are in good shape. Alternatively, if you’re confident with some nails and a putty knife, put your own handiwork to the test with some DIY repairs.
7 Pro Tips for DIY Roof Repair
Ensure that your leaky roof is resolved or your shingle replacement goes smoothly using these top tips for DIY roof repairs:
1: Take the Proper Safety Precautions
DIY roof repair is a great way to save some money, but that doesn’t mean the job is devoid of serious dangers. While repairing your own roof might be the best option for your budget, it’s important to remember the risks that come along with DIY roof repair.
Several initial protective precautions should be considered mandatory, as they are absolutely imperative to ensure a safe and successful DIY roof repair job, such as:
- Acquiring a safety harness and rigging
- Wearing sturdy, rubber-soled shoes
- Employing a spotter in case of emergency
- Scouting out hanging power lines or live wires
- Checking the roof for stinging insects
- Wearing the proper eye protection
- Bringing the right tools
Many homeowners enlist a local roof repair company to avoid these kinds of issues altogether, but taking the correct safety precautions is incredibly easy. Simply ensure you’re prepared with the proper tools and protective gear necessary to keep you safe throughout the project.
This way, you won’t have to repeatedly go up and down your ladder to complete the work. In addition, retaining a reliable spotter for your ladder (and the rest of your rooftop repair work, in general) is a great way to eliminate further risks or serious emergencies like slips and falls.
2: Inspect Your Roof Thoroughly
It might seem easy to spot roof leaks and other problems, but identifying the source of a leak or roofing issue can pose difficulties for some people. Take time to thoroughly inspect both the interior and exterior of your house. Check your attic insulation and walls for signs of water damage, staining, or mold to determine the source of a leak.
You must also inspect vents, skylights, step flashing, and all the shingles. Remove each damaged shingle using a utility knife. Then, mark the areas with missing shingles so you know where to start when you replace each one later.
Pro Tip: Take a look inside your gutters along roof edges and the edge of your house. A build-up of asphalt granules in your gutter joints is a good sign of shingle problems somewhere else on the roof surface.
3: Assess Vents and Flashing
After completing an in-depth inspection of their house, many homeowners find that the most common types of leak sources are around vent edges, skylights, or step flashing (flexible metal used to prevent a roof leak around edges). Old, cracked caulk in these areas can let moisture enter your attic, so it’s essential to stay on top of regular maintenance and apply a proper seal to these sections of your roofing system as soon as leaks arise.
4: Remove Remaining Debris
Once all problem areas have been identified, it’s time to properly address each issue. Starting your DIY home improvement project with a clean and safe slate helps ensure you’re not missing any steps in the process. Your standard household broom will be adequate for clearing any remaining debris from the roof before diving into your DIY task. Plus, pushing dirt, leaves, and other stagnant debris off your roof’s surface will help divert standing water and save you from further damage.
5: Salvage Your Roof Shingles
Roofing materials are manufactured to last an impressively long time, but the volatility of the economy can’t stop companies from going under. After starting to repair shingles, attempt to salvage as many as possible, since homeowners commonly experience issues matching their original shingle’s material or style when trying to replace it.
Recycled shingles can be utilized to cover areas on your roof with missing ones. Soften older, brittle asphalt shingles with a heat gun or hair dryer to ready them for reuse. Then utilize roofing cement, a nail gun, and caulk to repair your roof, securely placing shingles in two layers.
6: Avoid Exposed Nailheads
Once you install replacement shingles, replace your ridge cap, stop leaks, or fix any ventilation and chimney flashing— it’s crucial to clean up after yourself. Check for any exposed nails around the fresh shingles. Each new shingle should rest in two layers, but the top-most nails may still be exposed. Utilize caulk to create a seal around nail heads so the shingles won’t be exposed to rusted nails after it rains.
7: Know When to Say No
While you might be considered an accomplished family handyman in other aspects, roofing issues are nothing to mess with. Homeowners often get in over their heads attempting to make more serious repairs when they should just stop and call a professional. Knowing when to say no to DIY house repairs after your personal skill set is exhausted is crucial when it comes to roof systems.
Some repair work can be done in a snap, while other roofs require professional help to replace the whole system. Examples of severe roofing problems you should leave to the repair professionals include:
- Multiple leaks
- Untraceable damage sources
- Significant damage
- Lack of ability/experience
- Ineffective repairs
- Steep roof slopes
Although going the DIY route might save you a few bucks right off the bat, bad or ineffective repairs will have a higher cost in the end and will void your original warranty. Whether you think it’s just a small roof leak or it looks like all the shingles on your roof need replacing, understanding your limitations is critical. Allow the professionals to step in when issues are too severe to save you time, and, of course, cash.
When In Doubt, Hire A Professional
Deciding whether or not you have the necessary skills to complete a DIY roof repair project is entirely personal – for the most part. If you’re an experienced family handyman, it might not seem that hard; less established homeowners might require extra help from an accomplished roofing company.
In addition, extensive structural issues, rusting, or water damage will also likely require a professional team to tackle. That’s why assessing the extent of your roofing damage is so crucial to the repair process. Understanding your own limits and saying no to a DIY repair project when it won’t be done right helps protect you from further roofing issues or complete failures in the future.
When you start to feel like your roof repairs are too involved to tackle on your own, it’s always smart to speak with an experienced roof repair company or contractor. These knowledgeable professionals can provide valuable insights and accurate estimates that ensure a smooth repair job in the end, even if it’s not your handiwork.
Why Work With WISA?
We’re a highly qualified team of home improvement professionals providing expert work across Northern Virginia. Aside from repairing and replacing your roof, our other trusted home design and build services include:
When your DIY roof repair becomes too big of a job to handle alone, our team is here to offer outstanding support from start to finish. Get in touch with the WISA team today to tackle shingle replacement, roof repairs, and more.
We promise to provide a new roof you’ll love for years to come. Contact us now to learn more and receive a free estimate today!