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How to be prepared for emergency roof repairs after damaging storms

Updated on March 6, 2013
Broken off shingle with exposed nail hole allowing water infiltration
Broken off shingle with exposed nail hole allowing water infiltration
Small section of metal flashing cut and slid under the upper shingle protects the open hole until repairs can be made.
Small section of metal flashing cut and slid under the upper shingle protects the open hole until repairs can be made.
Heavy vinyl from billboard signs make heavy duty roof tarps to cover large areas of roof damage.  The back side is left white.
Heavy vinyl from billboard signs make heavy duty roof tarps to cover large areas of roof damage. The back side is left white.
Plastic head ring shank nails hold tarps in place.
Plastic head ring shank nails hold tarps in place.
Billboard tarp protects roof damage
Billboard tarp protects roof damage
Ring shank nails and screws with rubber gasket make emergency flashing and shingle repairs.
Ring shank nails and screws with rubber gasket make emergency flashing and shingle repairs.

With this list you can be prepared to make emergency roof repairs

Being prepared with a few emergency items can save thousands of dollars on inside repairs and potential mold issues.

With just a few things on the garage shelf you can be prepared to stop water infiltration into your home after a storm hits your area.

Being prepared with a good ladder and supplies on hand doesn't mean that you have to subject yourself to a dangerous roof top adventure.

It does mean that you will have things handy for volunteers and emergency workers who can make those temporary emergency repairs for you.

This is a good list to have:

  • Small Roll of metal flashing
  • Couple tubes or quarts of black asphalt roofing tar
  • Couple tubes of exterior clear silicone
  • A salvaged vinyl large billboard from a sign company, or a roll of black roofing felt.
  • Several plastic with rubber sewer vent roof jacks.
  • A box of ring shank nails with the orange plastic heads used in construction.
  • A small box of ring shank nails or screws with rubber gasket to secure metal roofing and siding.

Whether it’s a hurricane, tornado or just a strong burst of wind, damaged or missing shingles can allow water infiltration causing havoc on the interior of any home.

It’s critical to secure a home’s structural envelope as soon as possible after a storm has cleared enough for emergency repairs.

Waiting on insurance, contractors and FEMA tarps when wide spread damage has occurred in your area may take days, and even weeks to obtain temporary repairs and or supplies to secure your home.

During this period additional rain water can add more to any damage inside the home.

First understanding how a pitched shingle roof works will help you figure out how to make emergency repairs if needed.

Imagine taking a stack of plastic coated playing cards lapped over each other placed on a slightly pitched board. Beside that stack would be another row, and then one row right down the center to overlap the two rows.

If you poured water on the very top cards the water will run down on to each layered card and then over the edge of the bottom card, under the cards would remain dry.

Now if the water is poured at the top edge of the top cards the water will run down underneath all the layer of cards. This is why a ridge row runs across the top of the roof line.

If one of the cards or more becomes damaged with holes, or is blown up and broke off the water will run down to that spot and then run under the remaining shingles until it finds a joint or hole in the underneath wooden sheeting.

When damage does occur to the shingles some type of water proof sheeting will need to be installed to lap under the shingles above the damaged area and over the lower shingles, while the sides overlap enough to carry water on down and off the edge of the roof.

If it’s just one or a few shingles a piece of metal flashing can be uses as shown in pictures. In the area(s) where the shingle(s) haven broken off the metal can be secured with black roofing tar and then the broken shingle secured on top of the metal. The metal easily slides up under the overlapping shingle(s) above.

For large area damage, tarps or black roof felt will be needed to cover the area. The problem with most store purchased tarps is that they are very thin, hard to secure, and keep secured in blowing winds.

One of the best emergency materials to cover large areas of a damaged roof is re-purposed billboard signage. It is very thick and heavy to lay flat.

Your house doesn’t need to look like a bill board as the back is usually left white. When we had a hurricane hit our area a few years ago we were fortunate to have no shingle damage ourselves but several of our neighbors did loose large sections of shingles. They also weren't prepared and were very appreciated that we were prepared. One billboard was able to cover several damaged areas.

We had several of the large billboards tarps that are also handy for painting and other cover protection.

They are very heavy and will take extra hands to spread out.

We also had on hand a large box of the ring shank nails with the plastic top used to secure felt and Styrofoam sheets during the construction process.

A roll of the black felt sheeting can also be used to secure a roof using the ring shank nails to secure it down. Just remember top edge under the top shingles and the bottom edge lapping over the bottom shingles.

If the damage runs up to the ridge line, then the tarp or felt will need to lap over the top and start the slope downward on the other side.

To deal with sewer vents, the rubber roof jacks can also be used on top of the tarp by cutting the tarp out to go over the sewer pipe and then cutting out the top of the rubber seal pushing it down and sealing to the tarp using silicone glue.

It’s not uncommon for an entire patch of shingles to begin to lift up, or metal flashing to blow up. The ring shank nails or screws with the rubber gasket used on sheet metal roofs and siding can be nailed or screwed directly through the shingles or flashing to hold them down until permanent repairs can be made.

Both the plastic, and the rubber gasket ring shank nail heads can be covered with clear silicone for double protection.

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