DIY Residential Roof Repair Tips for Homeowners
Home ownership would be incredible if your house remained in tip-top shape for decades, never needing a repair, any sort of upkeep, or the variety of preventative measures intended to cut off potential problems at the pass.
Alas, this fantasy is just that—a fantasy. Owners know all too well the costs associated with their homes. Generally, they can expect to pay one percent to four percent of the purchase price of their properties on maintenance. For a half-million dollar house, that’s up to $20,000 a year on repairs and upkeep. Look at a figure like that and you begin to understand why some homeowners prefer to attempt the do-it-yourself route in an attempt to save some money.
DIY residential roof repairs are tricky but possible for the ambitious homeowner. Whereas replacing an entire roof is too much work on your own, fixing a few shingles or reattaching a gutter bracket is not overly difficult. Here are some DIY residential roof repair tips if you are considering a repair on your own:
Be Careful Up There
By definition, a roof is the top of the house, and as such, is at least 10 feet in the air (unless you live in a sturdy tent). Working at any sort of height requires an extra layer of diligence—injuries and deaths have occurred to homeowners fixing their roofs (this is how Green Bay Packers legend Max McGee died about a decade ago). Try not to do the job alone; even someone simply holding the ladder or bringing up tools for you improves safety. Remember to account for the pitch (slope) of the roof and beware of ice. Falling off the roof is an obvious concern, but falling through the roof is a concern as well—make sure the top of your house is structurally sound before venturing onto it. Finally, if you simply do not feel safe with a certain residential roof repair, call a professional to do the job instead.
Consult the Internet
The Internet is a wonderful resource for the DIY crowd—you can find step-by-step instructions and videos for just about every home repair project imaginable. And in the current mobile age, you can take the how-to content with you atop your roof via a smartphone or tablet. The Web is also great for consulting a variety of videos to see different ways that a DIY residential roof repair can be completed so that you can determine what works best for you and your home.
Handle Shingles with Care
Prying off damaged shingles requires a level of due diligence in order to avoid damaging unbroken shingles and other parts of your roof in the process. Remove only one nail at a time and be careful not to apply too much pressure to the shingle underneath your crowbar. Also, be careful with how much pressure you apply—and by you, we mean your body. If you put too much leverage on the roof trying to pry off a shingle, you can easily break another shingle under your feet or knees in the process.
Find the Leak
If you have water leaking in from your roof, you need to find the source of the leak before you can attempt any repairs—and you can’t just guess; otherwise, you might be wrongly replacing otherwise functional shingles and flashing and are still stuck with the leak. What also doesn’t help is that the leak could be in one part of the roof, but the water streams its way to another part of the house. Examine the roof for any obvious gaps or holes and check your attic to see if a clear entry point for the leak exists. You may have to simulate a rainstorm to get a better idea—enlist a partner to look inside your attic while you use a hose to spray small areas of the roof, one at a time, to see where water drips through.
Know When to Seek Professional Help
As much as your independent streak or quest to save money drives you to attempt a residential roof repair, recognize when you should hire a professional to make the fix. Here are some circumstances when you should consult an expert:
- Multiple shingles are missing all over your roof.
- You don’t feel safe doing the job.
- The pitch of your roof is too steep.
- You are attempting a repair in the middle of winter.
- A particularly bad storm has damaged your roof—it could have caused more problems than what is readily apparent.
- A leak is so bad that water is more than a trickle into your home.
- Your roof is made of tile, cedar shake, or metal, thus requiring extra care and additional expertise.
- Your repair simply isn’t staying repaired.
A DIY residential roof repair is ambitious, and many homeowners pull the job off successfully. But smart homeowners know when a roof repair is above their heads (no pun intended). Call an expert and get the job done right—your roof is too important to just wing it yourself.
Have you ever attempted making a minor repair on your roof?
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