DIY Home Improvement Tips: How to Tear Off and Prep Your Roof

It’s time to inspect your roof now that spring is coming. Has it weathered heavy autumn gales and severe winter storms? Has your second floor and attic experienced any leaks or water damage? If so, then it’s time for either repair work or even a brand new roof. Installing one is easy and can be done in very little time. Just follow these prep steps and then the rest is a piece of cake.

First of all examine your roof. Are there any noticeable signs of damage , such as shingles cupping , any loose or missing ones or them losing their outer coating or granules? Wood shingles will also have signs of wear, namely mold and decay. Also watch the flashing. Look for tears or buckling around roof penetrations. Soffits and ridge vents have to be inspected too. They will be either clogged or damaged with either the surrounding flashing or curled or missing shingles.

If you have to install a new roof, then count how many layers you have. If you just have one , you can get away with layering another one on top of it. Most states put a stop to two roof layers although some ,like New York State will let you get by with three.Three layers are considered a hazard and could lead to a second floor collapse. Also examine your first layer. If there’s too much damage, then you’re going to have to tear it off. Ripping off existing shingles is relatively easy, especially if you’re a seasoned DIY-er. You just simply pry off the shingles either by using a pitchfork or a shovel. . Remember to put plywood sheets near by shrubbery and trees to protect them. Also locate any type of construction dumpster, skip or large container and place it near your roof. Toss the old shingles directly into this to save from being scattered all over your lawn and driveway. You can also build a temporary chute or tunnel to throw shingles and nails directly into the bin. Some homeowners use the back of their pickup truck for roofing debris but be careful doing this. This area can quickly fill up and can be a mess to eliminate. Pull up any exposed nails . Now is also the time to replace any damaged or missing sheathing, faccia or soffits. Employ plywood or oriented strand board for this. If it looks like rain or even snow overhead during an overnight or one day break, then fasten temporary tarps over to your roofs to prevent damage.

It’s now time to start the basic prep work or first easy steps to a new roof. First lay a waterproofing membrane along the eaves and roof valleys which are very, very high risk areas for leaks. Use a thick bituminous material with adhesive backings for this. Remember, your membrane provides extra protection against water penetration. It’s also a requirement in the “snow belt” states.. You can use felt but it’s not” leak proof” Put membrane in the eaves. Once the membrane is on, then use tar paper or felt. It comes in rolls at your local DIY store (such as Home Depot or Lowes). Its’ thickness is measured in pounds, so typically a roll of 15 lbs. felt may cover about 400 square feet and a roll of 30 lbs. will cover half that area. (the lighter it is the more it will cover). Have a helper when you’re applying the felt. It’s much easier when two people do this. One rolls while the other staples or nails. Position the material flush with the roofs’ gables. Now , working towards the far end of the valley, unroll about 5′ of felt . Square it with the roof’s edges. Then press out any wrinkles, stapling or nailing it into place.. Go at 5 inch intervals to the far end, then, when you proceed into a valley , angle cut the felt to lie down in the middle of it. If you didn’t apply the waterproof membrane, now is the time to apply an extra layer of felt. Now over lap the second row of felt over on the first row by 2 inches. Work up your roof in this manner to the ridge or peak. Leave the ridge area exposed. When you reach the ridge, fold the felt over both sides. Remember to overlap it 2 inches and then fasten it into position. Once your roof has this felt underlay, it can withstand exposure for just a few days. If rain or even snow hit the felt , it will wrinkle and tear.

The next and important step is installing the flashing. You can easily recycle what you have if it’s not too damaged. However opt for brand new flashing if there is any damage. The new one should be galvanized steel W shaped valley flashing. It should easily fit into the standard V shaped one with a small ridge sticking out right in the middle of the W This ridge preventsany runoff rain. From running down one side of the roof and then splashing off the shingles on the other side. Set this flashing flush with the drip edges at the bottom of the valley. Trim this with tin snips if necessary. Nail it every 1inch or so near it’s outside edges.(Reminder – never nail in or near the middle). For extra protection, seal your roof’s seams between pieces and all nail heads with roofing cement.

The last step is fastening your drip edges. These are corner shaped metal strips that are nailed along the edges of your roof. These allow water from the roof to run cleanly off the edge. Drip edges also prevent any precipitation from running down both the faccia and the siding along with preventing vinyl siding staining. Another one of its’ jobs is to support the part of the shingle that extends past the decking. Nail your drip edge along the eave under the builder’s felt and over the fascia. If you want you can cover the nail heads with roofing cement then stick the felt down. At the rake or over hang install the drip edge over the felt and fascia. Doing this will protect it from any future high winds and blowing rains.

These are the preliminary steps in preparing your roof for a brand new layer. They act as extra protection against the harsh elements that can damage a house. Execute these steps correctly so that finishing your roof will be snap.

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