How to Replace Damaged and Worn Shingles

how to fix leaking shingles

Replace Shingles: Shingles are integral parts of your roof, keeping rainout of the home and preventing water damage to the structure below. But worn or damaged shingles can greatly affect the lifespan and effectiveness of a roof; if water manages to seep through the outer layer, a leak in the ceiling is soon to follow.Old, worn and damaged shingles are also ugly, so replacing just ends up looking a lot better.

Thankfully, replacing worn or damaged shingles isn’t too complicated, and you can usually do it on your own with a little know-how and free time. One of the benefits of using shingles is that you can replace just one or two here and there where needed, or even some small sections throughout the roof, without needing to replace the entire thing.

Here’s how it’s done.

How To Replace a Damaged Shingle:

First, you’ll want to take some basic safety precautions before replacing shingles on your roof. Wear protective gloves, sturdy boots, and preferably safety glasses.

And please, don’t attempt to climb up to the top of treacherously steep and high parts of the roof; falling isn’t fun.

Next, it’s a good idea to pick a nice day with moderate weather, whenever possible. Meaning, it shouldn’t be too hot and sunny, too cold, or too wet. Why?

First, mild weather is more comfortable – sun on an asphalt roof can be unbearably hot and not a lot of fun. It’s also safer.

But more importantly, weather can have an effect on how easy it is to work on your roof; cold weather can cause asphalt shingles to crack, while hot weather heats up the glue, making it pliable rather than breakable and making it difficult to break shingles off the roof.

If necessary, you might find it helpful to do the work in the morning, before the sun has had a chance to heat up the roof.

Sizing up the Situation: How Damaged Are Your Shingles?

Before you start removing any shingles from the roof, you should assess their condition thoroughly, as well as check on the condition of the surrounding area. Check to see if the corners of the shingle have curled up, which indicates damage underneath from a lack of airflow, and too much ventilation and too much heat.

If the shingles are cracked or split, they can be repaired without being replaced, but it’s usually easier to just go ahead and replace them as much as possible. And if there are large areas of shingling needing to be replaced at once, it’s usually better to just replace as much of the roof as possible.

How It’s Done: Tools and Methods

In order to remove a shingle, you need to loosen it from the roof by breaking the glue that fastens it to the shingles above and around it. Shingles overlap with each other, and to loosen the glue holding each shingle in place, you’ll need to loosen the glue under the flap two rows above the damaged shingle.

You do this by using a flat bar – essentially a small and flat crowbar. A hook blade knife and straight blade knife might also come in very helpful if your shingles are stuck and need some extra cajoling loose.

Just gently slide the flat bar underneath the shingles two rows above the ones you’re trying to remove, and gently move and loosen the shingle and glue by sliding the flat bar side to side.

Shingles are generally fastened to the roof by 8 nails, which are found under the flaps in the two shingle rows above it; that’s why you must loosen the two rows above each flap.

There will likely be one row of 4 nails on just the shingle above it or a second row on the shingle above that one. You can easily remove the nails using the flat bar; if you’re trying to save the shingle, it’s better to pry the nail from underneath the shingle, as opposed to from above it. Doing so can damage the shingle with the flat bar.

Likewise, be careful when loosening the shingles, as you likely don’t want to damage those around them if you aren’t going to replace those as well (If you are, care isn’t as warranted….)

Once all the nails in each shingle flap have been removed, you should be able to – gently – slide it out from underneath the undamaged shingle above it. If it doesn’t come out easily, however, don’t try and force it – again, you don’t want to damage the surrounding shingles.

Then, you can – gently – slide in a new shingle, and carefully nail in the center row first. After that, move to the row of nails underneath the shingle above it.

Overall, not very hard at all. If replacing more than one shingle or section, just move on to the next shingle and repeat.

Glue and Sealants

Using glue or sealant to hold the new shingles in place isn’t strictly necessary, but can help finish the job, keeping the roof securely fastened and adding more water resistance for better protection and a longer lifespan. Just use a caulk gun to apply it to the undersides of the shingle corners and press down gently.

How To Match New Shingles With Old Ones

When you replace a few shingles or a small section of shingles, it may be difficult to find ones that match the color of the shingles already installed on your roof – leaving you with patchy, mismatched sections of roof. This is especially likely if your roof is more than a few years old and the shingles are worn.

If you’d like to avoid this, it’s probably easier to find new shingles that match the color of how your shingles look now – that is, already worn – rather than how they looked when new.


TeamEstrellaAuthor posts

Juan del Leon is the owner of Estrella Roofing Company in Phoenix, Arizona. He has severed Arizona since 1997 with repair and installation services. Throughout the years he has gained knowledge of of the industry and utilizes his website as a place to blog about his experiences and share his expertise.

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