Roof Repair Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Keep your roof in tip-top shape with these smart maintenance and repair ideas.

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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.

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How to Fix a Leaky Roof

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 this 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.

How to Identify Roof Problems

Even if you haven't noticed a leak, it's still important to inspect your roof every year. This section will show you some of the problems to look for, such as cupping, splitting, water damage, and more. We'll also offer suggestions for repairing common roof problems. 

How to Replace Shingles and Shakes

If during your annual roof inspection you notice a few shingles or shakes that need to be replaced, fear not. This is a job most homeowners can manage without calling a professional. The first step is to locate replacement shingles or shakes—and hopefully you have some left over from your original roof installation. Then you'll need to remove the damaged pieces, install new underlayment, and add the new shingles or shakes. Learn how to replace shingles and shakes here. 

How to Repair a Flat Roof

Flat roofs often have different coverings than standard roofs, thus the repair process is a little bit more complicated. This section shows you how to patch both small and large holes in the roof. You'll learn what materials to use and the perfect process for the job. 

How to Vent an Attic

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.

How to Install Various Types of Vents

Ventilation is a key roof feature that is often overlooked. Vents help stabilize the air temperature between the attic and the roof. Without vents your roof would be much more prone to ice buildup in the winter, as no warm air from the attic would reach it. This section walks you through the installation of four common vents: soffit vents, ridge vents, roof vents, and gable vents. 

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