How to Fix Common Roof Leaks: Shingles


In the last post on roof maintenance, we went over where and how to look for roof leaks. Today, we will be talking about how to fix leaks in an asphalt shingle roof. If your roof is at least 20 years old, it's likely that you will need to have shingles repaired or even your entire roof replaced in the near future.


How to Fix Common Roof Leaks

First Things First: Your Safety

Before beginning any roof repair, make sure you are well-prepared and confident in your abilities. Keep these tips in mind when attempting to do any roofing work on your own:

  • Repair your roof on a sunny, moderately warm day when the roof is entirely dry. Wet roofs are slippery and dangerous. If you have leaves on your roof, it may be moist underneath them, so make sure your roof has been cleared of debris and left to dry before you walk on it. Never climb onto a roof that is icy or covered in morning dew.
  • Wear rubber-soled shoes or boots for traction when you are on a roof. Also wear leather gloves.
  • If your roof is steep, be sure to use a ladder framework to hold onto when moving around on the roof. Consider safety ropes as well.
  • Make sure you are aware of any power lines that hang close to your house so you don’t accidentally run into one.
  • Generally speaking, if you are unsure of how to safely climb onto your roof or are uncomfortable with heights, the safest thing to do is call a professional instead. It’s not worth saving the money if you are putting yourself in danger.

Moving Onto the Roof

If you have pinpointed the location of the leak on your shingled roof, you’ve already done the hard part. The next task is to fix the leak, which is a fairly simple process. Look for cracks, missing colored granules, breaks in caulking or flashing, gaps in roof cement, or small holes in shingles. If you don’t see any of this, you may have a more complex problem and need to call in a professional roofing contractor to do a thorough inspection and fix it for you.

Fixing Curled or Warped Shingles

It is common for older shingles to begin to curl. It’s best to try to straighten out your warped shingles in moderately warm (not hot) weather. Shingles are much more flexible under warmer conditions. In the cold, shingles can become brittle and break easily. To straighten a curved shingle, simply apply a liberal amount of roof cement to the bottom of the shingle around the edges, and press the shingle down flat onto the roof’s surface.

Replacing Damaged Shingles

Damaged shingles often need to be torn off completely and replaced. If a large area of your roof is damaged, you may need to have your entire roof replaced. Call a professional to come out and do an inspection to know for sure. To replace a damaged shingle:

1. Make sure to have your tools ready before you start. You’ll want to have a hammer, pry bar, utility knife, and roofing nails. You’ll also want your replacement shingle handy. Check to see if the previous roofer left any shingles after finishing the roof. If not, you’ll have to purchase your own shingles, matching them as best you can.

2. To remove the old shingle, first use the pry bar to gently lift up on the edges of overlapping shingles (above the damaged shingle) until seals break and lift free.

3. Use the pry bar to begin lifting up the damaged shingle until all the nails pop out (there should be eight nails per shingle). After all nails are removed, slide out the damaged shingle and scrape away any roof cement that may be left underneath it on the exposed roof.

4. Use the utility knife to slightly round the upper corners of the new shingle so it slides into place easily. Place roofing cement on the back, and slide the new shingle into place. The upper portion should be underneath the shingles in the row above it, and the bottom portion should align with the shingles on either side of it.

5. Nail down each corner with galvanized roofing nails, then cover the nail heads with roof cement to seal.

6. Place the overlapping shingles above the new shingle back down flat onto the roof. Voila! That's all there is to it. You’ve just replaced your damaged shingle.


If you have questions about shingle or roof replacement, contact Hedrick Construction in Huxley, Iowa, and we will be happy to help you in any way we can.