Holes punched in roof, how to repair it?
October 24, 2015 11:00 AM   Subscribe

A tree fell, mostly missing the house, but a 2" branch punched a neat hole in it. There are three smaller or partial breaches for a total of four holes in all. I can cover each of them with my hand. Is this something a reasonably handy person can handle without risking damage? I can easily stand and work on the damaged places.

The holes are feet to tens of feet apart. The roof is composition shingles over OSB. Bits of the OSB from the biggest hole fell through.

Is fixing this within the competence of a careful and good worker who has no experience with roof repair? I can easily stand and work on all the damaged areas but have no idea - none - how to proceed. If you will point me to a guide for such repairs it will be very helpful.
posted by jet_silver to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hi! Here is my experience.... There is a million different ways to repair roofs and other carpentry mishaps. Handymen will use whatever method seems "right" to them. The repairs could look awful but last forever, look fantastic but develop leaks during the next rainstorm - and every comboniation of outcomes in between.

Water is your #1 Worst Enemy as a HomeOwner.

So, with this in mind, hire a professional outfit specializing in roofs with great reviews. Go through your homeowner's insurance if you need to. Water damage is expensive and persistent leaks that never quite get fixed are common in roofs... Just get it done 100% correctly by a reputable company with a full warranty on the repairs. Do this and do not look back.
posted by jbenben at 11:08 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

This would be the procedure that I would follow. Probably easier to cut your holes out square and then replace with some square pieces, though for small holes you could use a hole saw to make a circular hole and then cut the patch material with the same hole saw (the small gap from the kerf wouldn't matter). Check what the underlayment between the sheathing and the shingles is and replace with like. Tar paper is most likely, but it could be other materials.

Check a couple things before you start: Make sure there is no insulation on the underside of the roof deck (spray foam or otherwise) that will need to be repaired. Check that the surrounding OSB is in good shape (dry and solid, not damp and mushy) as small holes being easily punched in it may indicate that it has rotted.

Be safe if you are going to work on your roof!
posted by ssg at 11:16 AM on October 24, 2015

Best answer: It's your roof; it protects your house and is your first defense against water, which will ruin your house if allowed to get in. It's critical that your roof be watertight and that it stay that way for many years. You can't risk a botched repair job, as by the time you realize there is anything wrong there could be expensive structural damage to your house.

I am an apprentice carpenter. I work on a lot of remodels, repairs, and replacements so I am constantly demo-ing portions of houses and I get to see how they were built originally. More often than not, when I go to take apart something on a house that was done by a homeowner, there are obvious (to me) problems with the way that thing was built and/or installed. Often this is not a major issue since whatever it is was not structurally critical to the house, but in the case of a roof mistakes can end up becoming expensive headaches all too easily.

I would proceed with caution here. My advice would be that if you are less than 100% confident that you can do the job right, you should let a professional handle it. It doesn't sound like it would be a big job for someone who really knows what they're doing, and who has the experience and equipment to easily handle any unexpected hurdles that might come up along the way. Maybe you are that person, but if you aren't sure then I'd err on the side of giving this to a professional.

I don't say this because I think homeowners can never do anything right or that people should be afraid to do their own work. This probably isn't even that complex a job, and as a reasonably handy person you might well be able to do a fine job with the repair. I just would want to know for sure, if it were my roof, that it had been done right. If you approach this yourself, make sure you know what you're doing.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:39 PM on October 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

For what it's worth, if it were my roof I would definitely hire a professional. Roofs are not something I would feel comfortable taking a chance with. (Fortunately, my wife and I know a contractor we trust to send us people who will do a good job and not overcharge.)
posted by languagehat at 1:47 PM on October 24, 2015

First, check your homeowner's insurance. Mine paid for reroofing the whole side of my roof due to similar damage.

Second, I had a choice of a guy who would do a repair of just the holes for $500, or the big repair, as above, for $3000. Part of the problem is making the repair match. You have to replace a few shingles. Where are you going to get the new ones?

As to how the repair is made, for the big repair, I think the replace the ODB sheet. For a small repair, I would guess that (after a bit of clean-up) a patch is fastened from below, and a filler is used to make things level. The gaps would be caulked, and may be some kind of membrane applied. The the shingles are replaced on top.

I bet you can find a This Old House video that shows some parts of the process.
posted by SemiSalt at 2:03 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: First, check your homeowner's insurance. Mine paid for reroofing the whole side of my roof due to similar damage.

Absolutely this!
This sort of damage is exactly why you have insurance. Your insurer will insist on having a pro make the repair, as well.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:36 PM on October 24, 2015

I'm a person who fixes their own stuff, son(and grandson) of a guy who fixes stuff.

I have a short list of things i won't even try to fix and will just pay someone else to, and besides car windows, it includes pretty much anything that holds water out of something else that isn't a pipe.

I've seen a lot of water damage over the years. I'd pick up the phone and call the insurance company and a roofing company. The only thing i'd have done with the damage is take a picture of it.
posted by emptythought at 2:53 AM on October 25, 2015

Best answer: Have someone else do it. And if you do it yourself you may invalidate any insurance coverage if you do have future water damage
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:44 AM on October 25, 2015

Response by poster: Professional repair is how I'm going to go. Thanks for the perspectives. AlexiaSky's comment tipped the scales.
posted by jet_silver at 9:05 PM on October 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

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