Taking on a Roofing Project

Posted by on May 8, 2014

Most homeowners will need to replace their roof at some point. How do you know when it’s time for a new roof? You should be inspecting it periodically to keep on top of repairs and be well aware of when you need to replace it. This is especially important if you live in a region with harsh or extreme weather, as that can cause damage to shingles or cause water buildup and leaking.

During your regular inspections, look for these warning signs:

Turned-up/Curling Shingles
This is a tell-tale sign that your roof has likely aged out of its use. If your roof is speckled with curled/turned-up shingles, this could cause wind uplift issues or it lead to ice damage during winter.

Bare Spots
Bare spots where the granules of shingles have been worn down or washed away can turn into a major issue. This can lead to shingle decay and eventually become an area where water leaks into the roof.

Broken Shingles
Roof areas with broken shingles are vulnerable to water entry, which can lead to damaging leaks.

Warped Shingles
Warping can leave gaps of various sizes in shingles. This could lead to rain, snow and water to seep into those gaps, which causes decay or leaks.

If you notice leaking in your home, it’s probably time to repair or even replace the roof. A leaky roof can cause major damage that is expensive to fix if you don’t fix it immediately. Pay attention during rainy or snowy times of the year, as things like snow buildup on the roof could cause major leaks.

You can inspect your roof for these signs while on the ground and by climbing on the roof and taking a look. If you do opt to climb onto your roof for a closer look, be careful about where you walk or step, as to prevent falls.

How to replace your roof

If you don’t feel comfortable taking on a roofing project, it’s best to hire a professional. It costs more, but in the long run you will save yourself more money and time than if you were to attempt to replace or fix your roof, mess up something and then have to shell out extra cash to take care of that mess-up and then continue with the project. It may also be safer to hire a professional in some instances, as if you don’t know what you are doing, you might hurt yourself.

If you have decided that replacing and repairing your roof shingles in a job that you can handle, the first thing you need to do it tear off the old shingles. You can do this with a pry bar or a shingle remover. A quality pry bar, like this one, is well designed, durable and tough enough to withstand long-term repeated use. With it, rip off all of the old damaged shingles, boards, pieces of wood and/or materials. After that, you will be left with a clear roof to work on, and you can then install roof deck protection along with a leak barrier to help prevent leaks.

Once those are in place, install starter strip shingles. This is especially important if you want your new roof to be able to withstand wind uplift.

Next, decide what pattern to lay out the shingles. Follow the same pattern your old roof had, unless there was a damage or safety issue due to the pattern. Start laying a row of shingles at the bottom of roof along the edge, then nail them with a roofing nailer or stapler. There are various nailers and staplers to choose from that will get the job done. Some of them require the use of an air compressor.

Continue until you finish the row, then lay the second row of shingles so it overlaps the first row. Keep doing this until you have shingled the entire roof.

Be careful and deliberate when using a nail gun to install shingles. If you hurriedly nail or don’t know what you’re doing, it could lead to improperly installed shingles, which could eventually cause expensive roof damage.

Other tools and equipment to have
You will likely need to slice shingles as you work, and for that you will need a quality utility knife. Make sure the utility knife you use is properly sharpened. Using a dull knife could cause slipping and injuries. Replace blades if necessary. Also, remember to cut away from yourself as you slice for added safety.

Make sure you have a sturdy, durable ladder that can stand up to prolonged use. Plant it firmly on the ground so it stays steady there for you to climb and descend. Always scale the ladder carefully. Don’t skip rungs or climb up or down too quickly. One misjudged step can lead to a serious or fatal injury. Be cautious as you carry loads of supplies and tools up and down it as well. You may think you’re saving yourself time by hauling a huge load up to the roof, but it’s not worth the potential risk of falling or tripping because you realize as you’re climbing the ladder that this extra heavy load is too much for you to support. Err on the side of safety and make more trips with lighter, more manageable loads.

Safety precautions to take while roofing

Working in an elevated area can pose several safety risks. Consider each of these precautions before and during your roofing projects:

Clear work area
Make sure your work area on the roof is as clean and organized as possible. It’s easy to have equipment and tools strewn about as you’re working, but that can cause safety hazards. You could possibly trip over a misplaced tool or stack of shingles, or even fall off the roof. If you make sure that items are contained to limited areas and that you have enough work space to move around, you will be much safer.

Proper safety equipment
Falling is another issue. Because you are working on top of a roof, there is a danger of falling and seriously injuring yourself, or even dying. To avoid these dangers, wear the proper safety equipment. Harnesses and lanyards are effective safety items that help keep you secured while you work in elevated areas. Safety kits with multiple pieces of gear and accessories are also available.

Wear proper work gloves. It’s imperative that you protect them, as you will be handling a number of rough tools and supplies for several hours.

Eye protection, like safety glasses, is a must, as it prevents loose debris and other objects from injuring your eyes. Make sure your safety glasses fit well and securely. You don’t want to keep pushing them up as you’re working if they don’t fit properly, as that is a distraction. It’s also a safety hazard, as they could slide off your face and leave your eyes vulnerable to injury.

Knee pads also serve an excellent purpose. A quality pair of well-designed knee pads protect and support your knees, which is crucial if you plan to spend hours kneeling on your roof.

Safe weather conditions
Only do roofing work in clear weather conditions. Never work when it’s raining or snowing, as this type of weather produces wet conditions and could cause you to slip and fall. Also, don’t work on your roof if it’s extremely hot and/or humid. Of course, this depends on your personal tolerance of heat and humidity. Some handle it well, while others do not. If it’s dangerously hot and humid (especially if a heat advisory is issued), save roofing for a cooler day. Also, if you are working in the heat and are exposed to the sun, keep hydrated and periodically cool yourself off. Cooling products, such as vests, bandanas, hats and sweatbands, all help to keep you cool and ward off heat exhaustion. Drink hydrating liquids while you work, like water or Gatorade. Don’t consume soda, as that can further dehydrate you as you in the heat.

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