Shingle roofing is extremely popular in the US. Not only is it affordable, but it also maintains an eye-catching attractiveness despite wear over the years. Looks aside, however, shingles aren’t the most protective roofing available—you’ll likely have to make an eventual repair to keep harsh weather from creeping into your home. When that time comes, it’s important to know how to spot key problems, which repairs you can actually make yourself, and how to complete those repairs properly.

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Basic Considerations Before Starting

It goes without saying, but never climb up on a wet, snowy, or icy roof—you’ll run a dangerous risk of slipping and falling off. Instead, perform shingle work on a dry and warm day if possible. Shingles need to heat to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in order to seal properly, and that means the weather must be at least 40 to 50 degrees and sunny in order for them to adhere properly without additional adhesives and sealants. This might mean climbing up in the middle of the day when the sun is highest, if you’re forced to work in cold conditions. It’s also vital to rely on safety equipment such as harnesses or roof jacks when working on a roof with a steeper pitch.

Searching for Shingle Problems

If you’re lucky, you’ll notice a leak or other serious roof issue immediately, but many homeowners don’t realize they have a roofing issue until after the damage has been done. That’s why it’s important to do regular inspections. For the most beneficial inspection, you’ll need a tall ladder so you can feel for damaged sheathing, but a good visual inspection can still be completed from a ladder at the roof’s edge.

Take a close look at the shingles along the roof for any serious curling or cracking. Look for blown off shingles that will need to be replaced, and pay close attention to lifted shingles—this is a sign that nails aren’t fully sunk in, which leads to premature leaks.

Replacing a Shingle – Image Source

Getting Replacement Shingles

Before you go out and buy new shingles, take a look around your home and garage to see if you have any spares lying around. Most of the time there will be a few shingles left over from the past roof job, and you can use those to get a perfect match when you need to make replacements. If you don’t have any spares, you’ll have to get a back-up set. Luckily, a square of shingles—about 100 feet worth of coverage—is pretty affordable. Go to the local home improvement store and look for an exact match to the shingles on your roof. If you can’t find one, just pick the closest match.

Properly Replace a Shingle

If shingles blew off in a storm, or if you have a cracked or broken piece, it’s important that you replace the entire shingle when installing asphalt roofing shingles. Step one is to slide a pry bar or the flat end of a shingle hammer underneath each of the remaining tabs of the broken shingle and about three to four tabs in each of the two rows above the broken shingle as well. This breaks that adhesive seal so that shingles can be removed without damage. The next step is to go up two rows and pull all the nails from underneath the same tabs you lifted. To do this, slip a crowbar or cat’s paw underneath the nail and pry it up.


Now jump down a single row to just above the damaged shingle and pull out nails under the three or four tabs above the shingle. These are the nails for that damaged shingle, and they all need to be removed. Then, you can easily slide the damaged shingle out and slip a new one in right in its place. Nail the new shingle in just underneath each of the above tabs, then go up another row and nail in that shingle that was fine above it to complete the installation. You should have a match that looks very similar to the original, as well as a reliable seal that you can count on.

Fix a Shingle Crack

When shingles crack, you usually don’t have to replace them entirely. Instead, you can simply cover up the crack and make it waterproof once again. Get your hands on a quality roofing adhesive and apply with a thin putty knife underneath the crack. Be sure to apply past the upper portion of the crack just slightly, and then repeat this on the face of the shingle. Now check your gutter for flakes from your shingles and scoop up a handful. Pour those flakes over top of the damp adhesive and spread them out over the repair. They serve to seal up the crack and also hide that it ever occurred in the first place.

Now you know how to find problems with your shingle roof, as well as some simple ways to repair them. Most shingle issues can be resolved by replacing a handful of shingles, but if you’re seeing widespread problems, it’s likely time to start fresh and do a full roof replacement.