The Complete Guide to Roof Repairing

The Complete Guide to Roof Repairing

As a homeowner or roofing business owner, you know that properly maintaining and repairing a roof is critical to ensuring the longest possible use from your roof. Because your roof is constantly exposed to sun, rain, wind, hail, or other elements that can slowly cause damage, if you leave minor issues unaddressed, such issues can progress to major repairs or even full roof replacements, costing you many thousands of dollars in losses that could have easily been prevented.

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about inspecting your roof, diagnosing problems, making repairs, and knowing which products work best. Follow these tips to help you to tackle most common roof repairs yourself, extending the life of your roof and avoiding the risk of a costly roof replacement.

How to Inspect for Roof Damage

Before fixing any roofing issue, the first step of any roof repair is performing a detailed roof inspection. While some damage like missing shingles is obvious, other types are less apparent without inspection. Issues like small cracks or leaks are often nearly impossible to notice from the ground. Here are some tips for thoroughly inspecting your roof for roof damage:

  • Before you go on your roof, use binoculars to look for obvious damage such as loose shingles/tiles, holes, and defects from the ground.
  • Get on the roof for closer inspection. Be careful not to walk on the wrong part of your roof to avoid additional damage. Watch videos to see the proper way to walk on a roof first if you do not already know how to do it. Once you are on your roof, search for blisters, cracks, peeled or warped surfaces, issues around features like ventilation or skylights, issues around drainage areas, and look out for any ponding water.
  • Examine all the flashings around chimneys, vents, and roof valleys and check them for cracks, holes or separation. Flashing failures are a common cause of leaks.
  • Check areas with the highest amounts of exposure to wind, rain, and sun. Generally, most sun exposure and weathering is more extreme near southern sections and these areas are more vulnerable to damage.
  • Look for signs of water damage such as dark stains or moisture on roof sheathing and rafters that may indicate leaks.
  • Notice any accumulated roofing granules in gutters that may indicate shingle wear.
  • Check interior ceilings for stains for signs of water ingress.
  • Use infrared imaging tools to detect subsurface moisture from leaks which may not visible on the surface.
  • Make notes on any damage you may have found and take photos to aid repairs. You may upload your photos to our Free Roof Diagnostic Tool to help you identify the specific type of issue you are facing and to provide a list of repair products to use.

    If a homeowner inspection is insufficient because damage causes are unclear or extensive, use a professional roof inspection service that may provide you with a more experienced assessment.

    Common Roof Damage Repair Issues

    Identifying the specific type of roof damage present is key to planning proper repairs. Use our Free Roof Diagnostic Tool to take the guesswork out and to determine your specific issue. Use the guide below to better understand the type of damage you are experiencing. Here are some of the most frequent roof repair issues which homeowners encounter:

    Roof Coating Blistering and Cracking

    Blistering and cracking occur when moisture expands after becoming trapped underneath roof coatings. This often results in cracking, bubbling, or blistering directly underneath the coating layer. Once water is able to penetrate coating layers, additional damage will occur since the coating layers keep the water from escaping and it is constantly touching sensitive materials.
    Repairing Blisters and Cracks:

    1. Cut away any damaged coating areas using a utility knife. Allow the surface to fully dry. If subsurfaces are still wet, then you cannot finish the repair yet.

    2. Fill in the defects with an elastomeric patching compound such as Product No. 501-W-P to level the surfaces. Allow this to cure.

    3. Reapply a new topcoat to the repaired areas using durable acrylic coatings such as Product No. 7000 in order to restore roof protection.

    Roof Erosion and Lost Roofing Granules

    Roof erosion is a natural weathering process that occurs over time which causes surface wear that exposes the roofing base material. This is apparent when you notice any bald areas where the grit has worn away.
    Repairing Erosion Damage:
    • Thoroughly clean the eroded surface
    • Replace any damaged surfaces.
    • Apply elastomeric acrylic coating such as Product No. 4000 in order to provide a new weathering restistance layer with added UV reflection.

    Leaking Seams and Flashings

    Another very common leaking issue occurs at either flashing or seams which commonly experience splitting from expansion/contraction. Due to standard heat cycles that occur every day, these areas are typically more vulnerable to leaks than other parts of the roof. Even small gaps in these seams or flashing areas may lead to new leaks.
    Fixing Leaking Seams and Flashing:
    • Locate the seam and flashing leak sources during or right after rainfall.
    • Clean the surface and then apply a primer such as Product No. 297-X. Allow the primer to cure.
    • Once the surface is primed, apply a reinforced seam sealant such as TRC’s Product No. 910 to fully waterproof these vulnerable joints.

    Ponding Water Areas

    Ponding water occurs due to improper design of the drainage on the roof. Any uneven areas on roofs let water puddles form which result in standing water on your roof. This is bad since constant water interaction on your roof accelerates roof decay. Ponding also adds significant amounts of weight and causes subsurfaces to rot from trapped moisture.
    Correcting Ponding:
    • Raise sunken roof sections by applying a slope-enhancing repair compound such as Green Slope Product No. 570.
    • Coat over the Green Slope leveled areas with an elastomeric acrylic coating such as Product No. 10000 in order to prevent future ponding.

    Mold and Mildew

    Excess moisture created by issues such as ponding may cause the roof surface to grow mold/mildew. If unaddressed, this spreads progressively and reduces the roof life.
    Removing Mold and Mildew:
    • Treat affected areas with Product No. 750 cleaner in order to kill mold and mildew.
    • Only after the roof surface is thoroughly cleaned can any new primers or topcoats be applied. Apply new acrylic or silicone coatings to prevent recurrence.

    Choosing the Right Roof Repair Products

    With so many roof coating and sealant products available, choosing the right repair solution for your needs can be confusing or challenging. Factors like roof type, budget, repair scope, and performance expectations all affect your selection of products. Here are some of the most popular options and their differences:
    Acrylic Roof Coatings

    Acrylic roof coatings contain durable thermoplastic acrylic polymers that form a thick, rubberized barrier. They bond well to most roof types while also restoring weather protection and reflectivity. White acrylic coatings like TRC-7000 offer powerful UV resistance and energy efficiency benefits as well.

    Silicone Roof Coatings

    Silicone roof coatings use flexible silicone polymers to create a seamless, waterproof membrane. Silicones offer maximum durability and weather protection but are more prone to dirt ingress than are acrylic coatings. Products such as TRC’s Product No 990 offer offer superior longevity for long-term repairs with a 30 year warranty.

    Elastomeric Roof Coatings

    Elastomeric roof coatings are a blend of various resins like silicone or polyurethane. Both silicone and acrylic roof coatings are also elastomeric roof coatings. In general, all elastomeric roof coatings impart high elasticity that is capable of withstanding expansion/contraction cycles that occur due to heat cycles and work well to resist cracking. Product No 7000 is a great example, offering durable protection up to 12 years.

    Aluminum Roof Coatings

    Aluminum-filled roof coatings are ideal for metal roofs but do not adhere well for most other roofing surfaces. The metallic pigments create a reflective surface while durable resins provide rust and corrosion protection.

    Asphalt Roof Coatings

    Asphalt-based coatings form an extra waterproofing layer on asphalt shingles and modified bitumen roofs. The asphalt composition ensures excellent adhesion to compatible roof types while restoring weather barriers. As like aluminum roof coatings, these do not adhere well to most other roof surfaces.

    Consider roof material compatibility, repair longevity, application method, reflectivity needs, and cost when selecting the proper roof coating. Consult Tucson Rubberized Coatings for help in choosing the perfect roof coating for your needs.

    DIY Roof Repair Tips and Best Practices

    For minor roof repairs, many homeowners choose to DIY in order to can thousands over hiring a roofer. This is completely doable as most of our customers already know but requires proper preparation, materials, and safety practices. Here are some helpful tips:  

  • Start by thoroughly cleaning the roof with a cleaner such as Product No 750 to remove dirt and debris that could impede proper coating adhesion. Rinse completely and allow the cleaned roof to dry.
  • Pressure washing is helpful as an additional step to thoroughly clean the house but should be carefully done around tile or shingle roofs since it may cause damage to these surfaces.
  • Mask off any nearby windows, siding and trim with plastic sheeting so coatings don’t impact them.
  • Wear shoes with traction on pitched roofs. Use harnesses and ropes if needed. Don’t work during poor weather or high wind.
  • Follow all manufacturer application instructions fully including mixing, thinning, and minimum curing times between coats. Proper application is vital to maintain the proper life of the coating.
  • Apply coatings using airless sprayers, rollers or brushes based on product recommendations. Smooth any drips or runs. Allow to fully cure before rain.
  • Repair in sections for easier management and quality control.
  • Allow allow for proper curing before inspecting repairs. Recoat areas as needed.
  • Clean tools and containers promptly after use with recommended solvents like mineral spirits and use covers to avoid getting paint in unwanted areas.
  • For extensive roof repairs or full replacements, it’s wise to hire professional roofing contractors. They have the experience, equipment, crews, and wholesale material access to safely perform major roof projects.

    Signs You Need a Full Roof Replacement

    While repairs can fix many common issues, severe roof deterioration may mean replacement is required to fully restore functionality and water protection. Consider replacement when you see:  

  • A roof has multiple layers indicating past issues.
  • Significant loss of shingle grit, splitting, or broken corners.
  • Majority of shingles are curled, cracked or missing – not just a few.
  • Extensive damaged areas are too large for repairs to cover.
  • Interior water stains are occurring in multiple rooms.
  • More than 2 prior coatings have been applied over current roof which is still leaking.
  • Current roofing is over 20 years old and shows signs of aging.
  •   Replacing an entire failing or critically aged roof restores protective capabilities for decades rather than just a few years. Though expensive, roof replacement provides peace of mind that repairs cannot.

    Choosing a Professional Roofer for Repairs

    Determining when to hire a professional roofer for roof repairs versus DIY comes down to your project’s complexity, safety, access to the right equipment, and expertise with various roofing types and materials. Here are some good indicators that a pro may be beneficial:  

  • Roofs are inaccessible, such as when higher than 2-stories tall
  • Steep roofs require either scaffolding or lifts to access safely
  • Repairs span multiple roof levels or buildings
  • Roof layouts and designs are complicated
  • There are many areas on the roof with tricky flashing details like skylights, chimneys and valleys
  • Structural damage to either rafters or trusses are discovered
  • A full roof replacement is necessary
  • You are unsure which repair method and materials are optimal
  • You lack the proper safety tools
  •   Look for established local roofing contractors with proper licensing and training credentials, experience with re-roofing and repairs, insured crews, and positive reviews. Many offer free inspections to evaluate your roof, work with your insurance company, or suggest repair options at no cost. Their expertise can prove invaluable.

    Maintain Your Roof to Avoid Repairs

    The best way to avoid major roof repairs and replacements is preventative maintenance. Annual roof inspections, clearing debris immediately, patching minor damage, and regular cleaning and recoating can all dramatically extend the roof’s lifespan. Follow these maintenance tips to keep your roof in shape:  

  • Perform visual inspections once or twice a year during spring and fall. Look for any emerging damage.
  • Keep the roof clear of debris like leaves and branches that can lead to decay if allowed to sit.
  • Ensure gutters and downspouts are clear of debris so they properly divert water away from the roof and foundation.
  • Recheck and reseal any loose flashing, caps and drainage components. Renew cracking sealants.
  • Quickly patch and/or recoat any damaged roofing to prevent enlargement. Don’t allow problems to spread.
  • Annually wash roofs with Product No 750 cleaner solution to remove grime and revitalize coatings.
  • Consider periodic elastomeric recoating to renew weather protection, reflectivity and appearance. Many roofs benefit from this every 5-10 years or more.
  •   Being proactive by applying preventative maintenance saves you thousands long-term by avoiding big future repair or replacement costs and extends your roof’s lifespan. Use our Roof Coating Cost Estimator to see the total energy savings and ROI over the length of your roof coating. Dedicating a few hours attention even yearly is a small investment for big payoff and much less trouble.

    In Summary

    Protecting your home from roof repair starts on top with the roof overhead. Knowing how to spot and repair emerging roof damage, using the right materials and techniques, and knowing when replacement is prudent gives you the ability to stay ahead of problems. Following the tips in this guide allows you to handle many common roof repairs yourself. Stay proactive on roof maintenance. A little effort annually can gain decades of extra life from your roof, saving you large amounts of money. Your roof works tirelessly protecting your home, so be sure to take proper care of it. Talk to us today if you have any questions on how you can extend the life of your roof or repair any existing roof damage.