Shingle Repair – 101


Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Questions

A shingle roof is one of the most important aspects of a home exterior to maintain. A sound roof system is critical to keeping your home dry, warm in winter, and cool in summer. Once any component of that system becomes damaged or compromised you could find yourself with more than just leaks. Left unrepaired, you may end up with ruined insulation, mold, and rot, to name a few possibilities.

It is good practice to visually inspect your roof periodically for wear, leaks, and missing or damaged shingles or flashings. You should also inspect the substrate of your roof from the inside to see if moisture is getting in. This is especially important if your roof is approaching or is beyond the warranty period. For safety purposes, it makes good sense to call in a roofing specialist to do an inspection and to make any needed repairs.

What Can Damage a Shingle Roof?

Age: The most obvious reason a roof system might become damaged is from age. Shingle roofs and flashing do not last forever. Warranties are generally good for 20 to 30 years, depending on the quality of the product. The amount of exposure the roof gets and the pitch also contribute to the longevity. Shallower roofs are likely to show wear sooner than steeply pitched shingle roofs.

Sun: UV rays from the sun can break down the exposed shingle surface. This is especially true of roofs that face due south and receive full sun all day.

Rain and Snow: In the Northeast, we have 4 distinct seasons with plenty of precipitation. We have rain in spring and snow in winter. Unfortunately, we do experience acid rain, which can be especially hard on roofs. Snow can build up in valleys and at eaves. As the snow melts, it is possible to experience what is called ice damming. When ice is present and melting under snow, moisture can leach its way into your home beneath or behind flashings causing damaging leaks.

Pollution: Both airborne and rainwater pollution can deteriorate roof shingles. Today’s shingle products are less susceptible to damage from pollution. Location matters. If your home is close to an industrial area or a major highway, you may experience more deterioration than those in suburban and rural areas.

Wind: Wind is likely one of the highest contributors to roof damage. Shingles are lapped and nailed at the very top. The exposed portion of a shingle is susceptible to being lifted or curled during high wind weather events, such as a hurricane or Nor’easter, which we do experience from time to time.

Can a Shingle Roof Be Repaired?

Yes, it is possible to repair a shingle roof if the majority of the roof system is still intact. Shingle tabs that have been lifted or broken off can be replaced. This is accomplished by gently lifting the shingle above the broken or missing tab with the help of a slide bar. Then, all of the nails of the missing tab are removed with the help of a pry bar or split hammer. Next, what is left of the tab, or all 3 tabs if replacing the entire shingle, is removed. Tabs can be cut to size with shears. The new shingle or tab is then slid up into place and secured with properly spaced 1-1/4” roofing nails.

In most cases, your roofing contractor will have given you what is called “attic stock”. This is some extra shingles in case you ever have to make repairs. If you don’t have any stored shingles, your roofer should be able to suggest a close match.

Cracked shingles can be temporarily repaired by applying a roofing sealant both under and on top of the crack.

It is also possible to replace flashings at eaves and roof penetrations, such as chimneys, if minor leaks are suspected in these areas.

What Would Warrant a Complete Roof Replacement?

If you have significant leaks, or the roof is very old and has outlived its warranty, you should consider a complete roof replacement. You want to do this before experiencing a total roof failure. Roof failure can result in very extensive and expensive repairs to home interiors. If your roof is leaking, schedule an inspection with a knowledgeable contractor as soon as possible to have the situation assessed.

Cost of Repair vs. Replacement

Roof repair costs vary widely, depending on the extent of the work. For a couple of simple repairs, you may spend as little as $500 for time and materials. If the repairs are extensive you could be looking at $2,500 to $10,000. Once you are getting into the $10,000 range, it is advisable to consider a complete replacement.

In most cases replacing a shingle roof involves removing the existing roof down to the roof decking. If the decking is damaged or rotted, that will also have to be removed and replaced. In a few cases, you can place a new shingle roof over an existing one. Your roofing specialist can determine which the best solution is after doing an inspection.

Factors such as slope, condition, the age of the house and of course size, can cause the price of a new shingle roof to vary greatly. It is best to have Fortified Roofing a New Jersey roofing specialist,  to come by to assess the actual conditions and give you a more accurate estimate.