3 Roofing Repairs You Shouldn'T Attempt And Why

Posted on: 30 March 2015

If you are like most new homeowners, you might be ready to roll up your sleeves and take care of a few simple repairs. After all, since it looks easy on television, why wouldn't you give it a try? Unfortunately, some repairs aren't nearly as simple as they seem. Here are three roofing repairs you shouldn't attempt, and how a few errors could permanently damage your home:

1: Fixing Flashing

Shingles might protect the surface of your roof, but flashing is what keeps water from seeping around foreign objects like vents, windows, and chimneys. In fact, it is estimated that as much as 95% of roofing leaks occur around flashing details. Although those thin metal sheets might look easy to replace, they actually need to be custom fit for the area. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Stacks: Roof stacks give the humid air from your bathrooms and the exhaust from your kitchen a way to leave your house. However, there are building codes that dictate how these stacks need to be placed and protected by roof flashing.
  • Eaves: As rain runs off of those shingles, your home's eaves are the last place water could penetrate before it hits your gutters. Unfortunately, if your eaves aren't properly flashed, water might soak into the underside of your roof and cause structural damage.
  • Windows: Those windows might look nice now, but how will they appear after rain has rotted away those casings? Flashing keeps water from penetrating the jambs in between your window and the exterior of your home, so that windows stay airtight.

In addition to having the tools to form sheet metal into effective flashing, professional roofers also understand the path that water tends to take. After evaluating your roof, they can install flashing that will keep the underlying materials clean and dry.  

2: Applying Torch-Down Roofing Materials

Every home is different, and some roofs have entire areas without a significant grade. To protect these flat spots, contractors typically install torch-down roofing materials. Instead of applying shingles panel after panel, these roofs are installed by carefully rolling and melting a fire and waterproof membrane onto the surface—with the help of a blowtorch. Unfortunately, unless you are innately familiar with torch-down roofing materials, they can be difficult to install.

First of all, you could start your house on fire. The flame needs to be carefully controlled and applied in a specific way to melt the bitumen and adhere the membrane to the roof. Second, unless the material is applied properly, you could end up with gaps or bubbles in the membrane, which could expose your roof to future damage.

To fend off trouble, hire a professional to replace areas that require torch-down roofing materials. Believe it or not, the price for the professional installation of a 1,600 square foot area starts at around $365—significantly less than the cost of replacing the possessions in your burned-down home.  

3: Replacing Nails

Even the most modest homeowner might feel completely comfortable replacing a few roofing nails. After all, what could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately, these issues could damage the underlying structure of your home, creating a nightmare in the future:

  • Wrong Nail Type: A nail is a nail, right? Wrong. Roofing nails are designed to sit flush against the shingle and prevent moisture damage. If you substitute those nails sitting in your craft cabinet, you might end up creating large punctures that could let water flow underneath your roofing materials.  
  • Nail Placement: Shingles are designed with a nailing strip that runs about one-half to one inch along the upper seam. Since this area is stronger, placing nails outside of this strip might make your shingles more likely to be knocked loose.   

By being able to recognize the complexities of roofing repair, you might be able to protect your home and your pocketbook.