Asphalt-shingle roofs are not the most durable roofs on the market, but that's okay. Testing in different climates reveals that asphalt shingles last anywhere from 14 to 20 years. Other roofing materials can last for several decades. That being said, it is much easier to make repairs to asphalt shingles than to clay tiles, slate, or metal. If you want to get as much life as possible from your asphalt shingles, you need to know how to recognize the need for repairs and then make repairs when necessary.
Recognizing Shingle Damage
The first step in making a repair is knowing what a damaged shingle looks like. Different weather events will have a different effect on shingles. For example, hail can scrape the protective granules off of a shingle or even punch a hole. Thus, after hailstorms, you should look for bald shingles that are missing their coat of protective granules, or shingles that have a bulls-eye-shaped crack in them. Wind can also damage shingles. Look for shingles that are torn along seams or that are missing altogether. Once you have found a damaged shingle, your only choice is to replace the shingle.
Making Repairs to Shingles
You do not need years of roofing experience to make repairs. Just follow these steps:
1. Gently lift the bottom edge of the shingle from the row above and use a cat's paw and hammer to remove the nails that hold or held the damaged shingle in place.
2. Fill the holes left by the nails with a dab of roofing cement.
3. Measure the distance between the shingles on either side of the now-missing shingle and use a utility knife to cut the replacement shingle to size as needed.
4. Cut about an inch off the top corners of the shingle, which will make it easier to slide into place.
5. Slide the shingle up until its bottom edge is even with other shingles in the same row.
6. Again, gently lift the bottom edge of the shingle from the row above and nail the shingle in place.
7. Cover the nail heads with a dab of roofing cement.
8. If the bottom edge of the shingle you had to lift won't lay flat, apply a dab of roofing cement to hold the bottom edge down.
Reading through the steps listed above should show how easy it is to make repairs to asphalt shingles—easy if you have the right tools, good access to your roof, and a good head for heights. On the other hand, if you are not comfortable making your own repairs for whatever reason, you should call in a roofing expert to make the repairs for you.