Home Repair Tips – Roofs

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

One of the worst things that can happen to a house is a leaking roof. Once water gets in, it ruins ceilings and walls and can short electrical wiring. To repair a leaking roof you must:

• Find the leak to repair it with the proper roofing material

Build a ladder hook to give yourself a safe place to stand while repairing a roof. A skyhook accessory is for working on gutters and windows but it can also be used to secure a ladder over most roof peaks. Never lean a ladder against gutters.

Working on a roof is always dangerous. It is possible to fall through or off even a flat roof. Roofs are not as solid as they seem. Test the roof before putting your weight on your foot. Try to step on rafters. If you are working in one area, use a large sheet of 1/2″ plywood to spread your weight across the rafters. On a steep roof, a ladder with a hook on one end can provide a safe footing. Tie yourself to a safety line looped around a chimney or vent pipe. Make repairs only in good weather when there is little or no wind.

The first sign of a leak is usually a wet spot or dripping water in the house. A leak can be difficult to find. If the wet spot would always appear under the leak, the solution would be simple. When rain water comes through the roof, it often travels some distance before it becomes visible Check the roof from the inside and try to trace the path of water back to the source. If that doesn’t work, look for a pinpoint of light coming through the roof on a sunny day. If you find the hole, push a long finishing nail through so it can be seen outside.

You can make small temporary repairs with asphalt roof cement. More permanent repairs are made by replacing a section of roofing material.

Flat roofs are often covered with tar paper and sealed with hot-mopped asphalt. Leaks can be sealed by applying more asphalt.

In general, roofing comes in four forms:

• Rolls

• Sheets

• Shingles

• Tiles

Roll roofing is usually layers of tar paper and layers of roofing material that overlap each former layer by at least four inches. New roofing is usually laid right over the old.

Metal roofs, lead, copper, tin, or aluminum, usually come in sheets or rolls. Copper will change color but will never rust and will last practically forever. Tin roofs are actually made of iron that has been coated with lead (terne plate) or zinc (galvanized). Tin roofs will rust unless they are painted. Aluminum will not corrode unless it is near the ocean. To repair metal roofs, you can solder patches on copper or tin. Solder will not hold on aluminum so you should use asphalt roof cement and nail patches with special nails. Cover each nail with an asphalt emulsion to prevent leaks.

All shingles were once made of wood. Now composition and asphalt shingles are quite popular. Cement down any loose shingles. Replace those that are badly damaged. Lift the bad shingle carefully and run a hacksaw blade under it to cut off the nails holding it in place. If needed, put down a tar paper patch with roofing compound. Then slide in a new shingle and nail just below the butt of the overlapping shingle with rust-resistant nails. Cement the shingle and the overlapping row above.

Slate or asbestos shingles last as long as the house unless they are broken. A cracked slate can be patched with asphalt emulsion cement. Replace badly damaged slates. Remove the old shingle carefully and nail down two copper strips extending about two inches below the bottom edge of the new shingle. It is not easy to nail through the slate shingles below. Use one solid blow. Cover each nail head with asphalt roof cement. Slide in the new shingle and turn up the copper strips to hold the shingle in place.

Wood shingles split and warp as they get older. If a wooden shingle is damaged, a tar paper or metal patch under the shingle will often stop the leak. Replace wooden shingles as you would composition ones. Remember that wooden shingles swell, so they must fit loosely between the other shingles. Nail in the new shingle with rust- resistant nails.

Tile roofs generally suffer only from wind damage. Tiles vary from unglazed red Spanish tiles to glazed Oriental ones. They are curved or flat. When replacing tiles nail only through the predrilled holes. Avoid placing weight on the tiles or they will crack.

On slanted roofs, all roofing materials overlap. Gravity helps keep water from getting into the house.

When you find a leak in the attic, push a finishing nail or a piece of wire through. Don’t use a nail with a large head because you’ll want to pull it on through once you’ve marked the spot on the outside.

Because of the overlapping shingles, it is impossible to remove the nails holding a shingle in place. The easiest way to free the shingle is to cut off the nail heads with a hacksaw blade.

Push in the new shingle as far as it will go. Nail just below the shingle above, catching the edge of the shingle with the nail head. Be sure to cement over all nails.

Slate shingles_are removed when they are broken. Nail two strips of sheet copper where the new tile will be placed. Don’t tap in the nail; drive it with one hard blow. Then smear large gobs of roof cement over the nails. This will spread out when you press down the new slate and will help hold it in place. Bend up the copper strips. Later snip off the strips along the edge of the slate.

Ceramic tiles may be flat or curved. Spanish tile is shaped like an S while mission tile is more like half sections of pipe. On the roof they interlock.

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