Nobody wants to have roof problems, but it is unavoidable that over the course of many seasons, your roof is going to wear down, and either develop leaks or holes. This is especially true if you live in an area that experiences frequent hail. In fact, if this is the case, knowing how to do your own roof repairs is probably crucial, unless you want to be spending thousands of dollars each year on contractors.
In any case, it is likely that at some point in your life, you will have to conduct some sort of roof repair. A problem with your roof must be dealt with immediately, or you will run the risk of water damage from a single downpour. If you think roof repairs are annoying, you definitely don't want to experience rotting or moulding in hard-to-reach places of your home.
Whether you choose to do them yourself or contract them out is up to you, but if you have the "do it yourself" mentality, or would like to save some money, there are some ways you can conduct roof repairs without any special training. Of course, if you intend on doing so, make sure to exercise the utmost caution to avoid slips and falls. When you exercise proper care, roof repairs don't have to be any more dangerous than vaccuming or cleaning kitty's litter box.
You should inspect your roof regularly, looking at it from ground level, to check that there are no broken or misplaced slates or tiles. These are relatively simple things to put right if done straight away, but neglecting them can lead to further deterioration - to a point where you will need to call in the professionals.
If you intend to work on your roof, it really is necessary to have a dedicated roof ladder. This is a ladder which has hooks at the top which fix over the ridge of the roof and hold the ladder securely in place. It runs easily on wheels up the roof and is then turned over so that the hooks engage. It gives you a quite remarkably secure and safe platform from which to work. If you intend to do any roof or chimney maintenance yourself, this is a "must".
Replacing a Misplaced or Broken Slate
On a slate roof, particularly if it is an old roof, each slate is held by two nails and if one of these corrodes, the slate will slip. It can also slip if the slate has been broken. You need to remove the offending slate by sliding a slater's ripper under it. The ripper has a hooked end and you must feel about under the slate to find the nails securing it and then get the hook over the nail so that you can pull down firmly â€“ very old nails will probably break under this force â€“ that's fine. Make sure that you have removed, or snapped off, both the securing nails, since the new slate needs to be able to slip in smoothly.
It is not possible to nail the new slate onto the roof, so instead you support it by a strip of copper that is laid under the slate, along its length, not its breadth, and folds up to hold the slate in place. You need a strip of copper or lead at least an inch wide and an inch longer than the overlap of the slate (that is, the length by which the slate overlaps the slate below it). Lay the copper strip over the crack between the two slates that were under the slate you removed and are now exposed.
Nail the copper strip to the wooden batten below by forcing the nails (use copper nails) through the gap between the two underlying slates. Slide the new slate over the copper and under the slates above so that it is back into position. Make sure that at least an inch of the copper shows below the slate when it is in its final position. Fold this inch up over the slate to hold it in place.
If you need to cut a slate to size, score it deeply, lay the slate on a bench, with the score above the edge and tap it firmly along its length with a heavy trowel (bricklayer's not gardener's, of course!) Slate is a soft material and should break cleanly along the scored line.
Replacing a Broken Roof Tile
Tiles are often not nailed down at all but are simply held in place by hooking over battens and, in some case by interlocking with each other.
The first stage is to raise the two tiles that are above the broken tile. You can do this quite simply by ramming in a couple of wood blocks, making sure, of course, that they are not resting on the tile you are trying to remove! Then you need to wiggle the tile so that the "nibs" (the little knobs that hook it over the batten) work free of the batten. The tile may be nailed, in which case you use a slater's ripper, as described for slates above. Pull the broken tile out and replace it simply by sliding the new one back in, ensuring that the nibs engage. It is not normal to use the copper strip mechanism (see above in slates)with tiles, but if you are concerned about a tile that was originally nailed as well as "nibbed", there seems no good reason not to secure it with a copper strip.
You follow the same procedure for an interlocking tile as you do for a flat tile, except that you will need to raise more tiles around it, specifically the tiles on either side. It will take a little more effort to get the tile out and a certain amount of patience to slot it back in so that it interlocks correctly, but it can be done, and most certainly becomes easier with experience.