If you've been lax about trimming back tree branches that hang over your roof, you may discover the swaying of the limbs has damaged some shingles. The frequent brushing of your roof knocks granules off the shingles and can eventually make the shingles loose or cause them to fall off completely. If the damage is localized to one spot, you might be able to make the repairs yourself, as long as you feel safe climbing a ladder and walking on the roof. Here is a quick look at how to proceed.
Inspect The Roof First
Before you attempt DIY repairs, you want to examine the roof carefully to determine the extent of damage. If the trees have been brushing against the roof for a long time, then the shingles may have been damaged for so long that rain has seeped down to the deck or even into your attic. Be careful when you walk around the damaged area in case the deck is rotting. If the deck has a spongy feel in that area, it is probably damp and weak from rot. In that case, the shingles have to be torn off and that part of the deck removed. You probably want to call a roofing contractor to handle those repairs.
If the damage is confined to a small surface area, you might get by with replacing a few shingles. You may want to pull off a shingle to take with you to the home improvement store so you can buy new shingles that match the color closely.
Replace The Damaged Shingles
Shingles are applied so they layer on top of each other. To remove a shingle, you have to lift up the shingle on top of it so you can reach the nails. Pull out the nails and then lift out the damaged shingle. Slide the new shingle into place and then nail it down using the same holes as the old shingle. When you buy supplies to put on new shingles, be sure to buy roofing nails. These nails are heavier and have larger heads so they can hold shingles in place. Plus, they are made from materials that won't rust. Other supplies you'll need are a pry bar for working shingles loose and a hammer for pulling out old nails and driving in new ones.
Repair Cracked Shingles
If the damaged shingles are still flat and firmly in place, but have cracks in them, you may get by with filling in the cracks instead of replacing them. Just seal the crack with roofing sealant. Apply sealant under the crack and then press the shingle into it. Apply more sealant on top of the crack and spread it along the length of the crack with a putty knife. Look in the gutters for asphalt granules that were scraped off by the tree limbs. You can gather these up and press them into the top layer of sealant to hide the repair job. You can also use roofing sealant to fix shingles lifted up at the edges. Just place sealant under the shingle and then flatten out the shingle and press it into the sealant as if it were glue. You'll probably need to put something heavy on the shingle for a day or two until it dries and bonds in place.
While these repairs sound simple, don't forget they require you to climb on a ladder and work on top of the roof. If your roof has a steep slope or if you feel uneasy in high places, you may not want to risk injury. If you have any doubt about your ability to do the job correctly and safely, then you may want to save your DIY repairs for another project and call a roofer like Stevens Roofing Corporation to repair the shingles.