Asphalt Shingle Replacement, Stop Those Roof Leaks!





Introduction: Asphalt Shingle Replacement, Stop Those Roof Leaks!

About: I'm a retired mechanical engineer, woodworker, boater, and inventor. Now I'm getting into wood turning, and have found that all my wood projects need not be flat and square.

If you have a leaky roof, and your roof has standard asphalt shingles, you can repair it yourself. There are MANY instructions on the Internet, and an excellent Instructable How to replace a damaged shingle by sbrown. You should view these valuable instructions, they provide information that I will not cover here.

This Instructables provides a few tips learned on a recent roof repair. They worked for me, may or may not work for you. But I'm pretty sure there will be some things here you will not see elsewhere.

I started with the venerable blue tarp on my garage roof. Where I live in Washington State, it started raining last week. May stop next July.

Step 1: Pinpoint the Leak Source

I found the apparent location of the leak on the underside of the roof. No, this is not always where the water is entering above, the water can travel. But it should be close.

Next, I taped a stack of rare-earth (neodymium) magnets on the underside of the roof at the high point of the leak.

Then I went back on top the roof with a cheap compass. Knowing approximately the area of the leak, the compass quickly zoomed in on the magnets under the roof. To confirm, I placed another magnet on the roof to mark the spot.

Step 2: How to Get Those Roofing Nails Out!

Now that the leak point has been found (hopefully),  a couple of shingles will have to be removed.

To remove them, reach under them with a pry bar until you encounter the nails.
Not too hard with a newer roof. But with an old roof and bad shingles, another story. I ended up tearing away portions of the old flimsy shingles to get to the nails. Why not, they are going into the trash anyway.

Two problems with removing the nails, not mentioned elsewhere:

     Often they are driven really deep into the shingle, since the roofers use pneumatic driven nailers. Not easy to get your nail puller under. So I went into the attic, under the roof work area, and found the roofing nails protruding about 1/4". On my target shingles, I drove the nails out, so they were easy to find and remove back on the roof. Be sure to remove all the nails that drive out!

   It is really easy to tear the tarpaper underlayment when messing around with the sharp pry bar. All the more reason to tear away the old bad shingles first, so you see what you are doing.    

Step 3: Tools and Supplies.

Forgot to put this in earlier:

Two pry bar/nail pullers, one large, one small. I sharpened the tip of the small one in order to get under the roofing nails.
Flashlight - I needed this to see under shingles to locate nails.
Trowel for spreading roofing cement.

New shingles. I took an old one to the store so I could find a close match.
Tarpaper underlayment. Get the 30# type, not the thin 15#. I'll explain later.
Roofing cement (tar/sealant). I got a gallon of Henry brand. messy, very messy. You will pitch the gloves later.

Step 4: Find and Remove Roofing Nails for Bad Shingles.

That's where the long pry bar come in.

To remove this shingle (under pry bar), you will have to remove nails located under the next two higher shingles. It wasn't long before I just ripped off much of the shingle I was removing.

The second photo here shows the head of a roofing nail protruding about 1/4" after I had hammered it out from below. Otherwise I would have had to dig into the shingle to get under the nail head.

Step 5: Don't Rip the Underlayment!

You want to leave the underlayment (tarpaper) intact. I tore the tarpaper here with my prybar, looking for a nail. It is very easy to tear 15# underlayment, which many commercial roofers use. Be sure any tears are repaired with the roofing cement.

Step 6: Install New Tarpaper

This photo shows me sliding  new 30# tarpaper under the existing tarpaper. You want to install new tarpaper as far up the roof as possible, under the area where the new shingles will be placed. The 30# stuff is stiff enough to do this, 15# may not work.

Step 7: Job Done, Wait for a Rain Storm for Results.

I only replaced three shingles for this job, plus used roofing cement under a few more that were cracked.



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    46 Discussions

    These are really some great tips. I work as a roofing contractors in Tacoma,
    but I was not aware of this technique of finding roof leaks. I went
    through this article and I found this technique very amazing. It is
    really helping me a lot. Thank you for sharing such great points.

    1 reply

    Thanks Daniel - Patching only goes so far, as you know. This year I broke down and had a new roof put on! I live in Olympia.

    Since I wrote this Instructable, I had the whole roof replaced. Fortunate, we have had the wettest winter here in Olympia WA, which is saying a lot, since every winter in western Washington state is very rainy. Nothing wrong with blue tarps (in my opinion) but lucky for me the tarp went on the back (hidden) side of the garage, because my wife does not share my opinion on blue tarps on the roof.



    1 reply

    Thanks, Nicole.

    Yes, the trick actually helped me find the leaks. However, the source of the leak is not always where you see it coming out - the water can travel and trick you.

    I will check out your blog.


    I have to be honest, I don't have any experience with the roof
    building. But unfortunately I had to fix the roof of my parents.Then
    I realized that all of my injenering skills are not enough and I need
    profesional help. One of my friends give me really good
    recommendations about this guys - . Now I
    can conclude they've got the best skilled technicians which can
    perform maintenance & repairs on all types of roofs.Highly

    This is a good post, I was wondering if I could use this write-up on my website, I will link it back to your website though. If this is a problem please let me know and I will take it down right away.

    <strong><a href="">Orlando roofer</a></strong>

    1 reply

    No problem, I would like to see your website. I believe most anything on Instructables is fair game, we post our ideas so others can maybe use them. Unless someone clearly states that their idea is proprietary or patented or something like that.

    This was a really quality post. In theory I'd like to write like this too - taking time and real effort to make a good article... but what can I say... I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.

    <strong><a href="">Orlando roofer</a></strong>

    1 reply

    Thanks, Zemkarlos. I procrastinate a lot also, but once I start writing something, it just keeps going.

    I know my repair was not up to professional standards, but after two VERY wet winters my garage is dry.

    If you mean asphalt shingles, they are available at all home centers like Lowes and Home Depot. Not expensive at all.

    Getting a wee bit cold there now, be careful.

    If you need any help as you get into the work, please let me know. Well, I meant advice, but anything (almost), please ask.


    I read an article about a man who couldnt afford a roof for his cabin,so he used 300 thread count sheets got from the Goodwill,and 8 or ten gallons of latex paint.He had his help spread on paint and he laid the sheets on top,then when it was tacky,he started adding coats on top the sheets.He said in the article that his roof had been on 20 years.

    instead of tar paper, ice and water shield. its far more water resistant. also, covered in asphalt so you wouldnt have needed the gallon to fix holes.

    2 replies

    Thanks for the comment.
    Did not know about ice and water shield, will try it next time.
    However, I had another motivation of the gallon of roofing cement. I had a couple of caulking tubes in the cart; my wife says: why don't you just buy this gallon can of the stuff? So I say "yes dear, that's a good idea". That decision was more marriage 101 than roofing technology 101.

    wow scarty about the zink! hey sometimes you cannot get TO the area to hammer a nail so YAY magnets!!

    I noticed a few "Glove free moments " DO NOT DO THAT I have fiberglass permanently imbedded in the backs of my hands from that(Makes you itch and break out whenever you wear any kind of rubber gloves) they are Fiberglass reenforced asphalt shingles good posting just a note LOVE MAGNET TRICK!! awesome!

    I am rather proud of the magnet method, for what it is worth (not much). But only los locos appreciate such things.

    My roof is done in "tejas coloniales". I suppose I can't apply your method because the thickness of them (and timbering) would weaken too much the magnetic field.

    Regarding this I have a question, I could not find in the web, maybe you know the answer: the strength of a magnetic field is inversely proportional to the CUBE of the distance? I think it is so, but I am not sure.