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How to Maintain and Repair Asphalt and Composition Roofs

Prevent Repairs

Keep your attic cool. This will prevent heat from building up under the shingles, which causes oils in the asphalt to dry, shortening their lifespan.

Increase ventilation by adding turbine vents near the ridgeline of the roof. Turbine vents are heat driven, so when warm air rises from the attic, the turbine spin and releases the hot air. They are very low maintenance and don’t require electricity to work.

Do You Need a New Roof?

On the sunniest side of your roof, bend a corner of several shingles. If they break rather than flex, or are gray and bloated, your roof will probably need replacement soon. Also, if you are seeing a lot of mineral granules washing off the shingles into the gutters or at the base of downspouts, the protective surface of the asphalt is wearing away and also indicates that the roof is near end of life.

Find Replacement Shingles

If you don’t have a bundle of extra shingles saved from the roof installation, find one that is similar in size, weight and color from a roofing store. Asphalt shingles are manufactured in long strips and are notched so they look like individual shingles. When repairing damaged asphalt shingles, it is not necessary to replace the entire strip.

Repair a Torn or Curling Shingle

Apply a layer of roofing cement to the back of the damaged shingle, and press into place. Either weigh the shingle with a brick while it sets, or tack the edge with roofing nails.

Replace Shingles

Lift the line of shingles above the one to be replaced with a pry bar, being careful not to damage them. Along the edge of the damaged shingle, slide a pry bar along its length to break the black self sealing strip that holds them in place.

Pull the nails out of the bad shingle and remove it. If you don’t want or need to replace the entire strip, use heavy scissors to cut the shingle from the strip. Measure the area and cut a new shingle to fit. Slip the new shingle under the layer above.

If possible, drive the new roofing nails into the original holes. If that isn’t possible, seal the old holes with roofing cement. When you hammer in new nails, place the flat end of a pry bar over the nail and hammer the pry bar. This will help prevent damage from the hammer. Coat the nail heads with roofing cement and press the overlaying shingle back into place.

Repairing Shingles on Ridges

It is best to leave damaged ridge shingles and hip shingles in place. Make your repairs by applying a second shingle over the first. Coat the bottom of the new shingle with roofing cement, and place it over the old shingle, securing with roofing nails. Coat the nail heads with roofing cement.

- Local Fresh  updated June 16th, 2008
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