Identifying roofing problems

FLASHING AROUND VENT PIPES often cracks, letting water into the attic and even down into the wall. Look for faulty repairs, such as this one done with roofing cement, as well as actual cracks.

BUCKLED AND CUPPED SHINGLES generally indicate a moisture problem. Tear off the old shingles, repair the problem, and reroof.

WEAR OCCURS AS SHINGLES AGE. If the majority of shingles are damaged or worn, tear off and replace them.

DAMAGED OR DETERIORATED SHINGLES are a main cause of roof leaks. These shingles are damaged beyond repair and a new roof is the only solution. In cases of minor or localized problems you need only replace the damaged shingles.

DETACHED OR LOOSE FLASHING often can be replaced or reattached. Clean out the old caulk or roof cement and replace it with fresh sealant.

LEAKS OFTEN OCCUR AT CHIMNEYS when flashing fails. Look for the kind of gaps that occur in other types of flashing, as well as repairs that use lots of roofing cement or patches. Any patch is temporary and is a sure sign that if you don't need a new roof now, you soon will.

Protecting yourself and your house

As any roofer will tell yon, no matter how hard the roofing job, getting rid of the old shingles and nails is worse. To save your back, follow these suggestions:

• Put a large trash receptacle or flatbed truck next to the house and throw the shingles in it instead of on the ground.

• Put a tarp on the ground wherever the shingles will land.

• Protect bushes and shrubs with plywood and tarps.

• Protect windows by leaning plywood against them.

• Pick up stray nails and debris as you work (there will be lots) with a heavy-duty “sweep” magnet (also called a release magnet), available in the roofing department or from a tool rental store.

• Always have another person around when you work above ground in case of an emergency.

• Wear shoes with soles that nails cannot penetrate.

• Wear a tool apron to keep tools from sliding off the roof.

PROTECT YOUR HOUSE AGAINST DAMAGE FROM DISCARDED ROOFING MATERIALS. Hang large tarps over the side of the house. Protect your landscape against falling debris by setting plywood sheets against the house and over windows. Protect gardens and yard elements with plastic tarps. Load shingles in a wheelbarrow and then a truck or large trash receptacle. If you can put it next to the house, throwing debris directly into it will make the job easier.

Use Roof Jacks

1 NAIL TWO ROOF JACKS ON A STEEP ROOF AFTER SHINGLING THE FIRST FOUR COURSES. Drive two 12 or 16d common nails into each jack, and nail it firmly into a rafter. Nail into the section of a shingle that will be covered and so that the jack doesn't interfere with the nailing pattern. Run another set of jacks along the bottom of the roof to catch falling tools—or falling workers.

2 SHINGLE NORMALLY OVER THE TOPS OF THE ROOF JACKS, then insert a board across the two jacks to form a safe support for yourself and your tools. Continue your work at the new level.

3 DETACH A ROOF JACK BY HITTING THE BOTTOM OF THE JACK toward the ridge and sliding it upward off the nails, Slip a pry bar under a shingle and use it to finish driving in the hidden nails left from the roof jack.

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