Guide to Asphalt Roof Repair (2024)

By Tamara Jude Updated February 5, 2024

Typically service cost ranges from $125$6,000

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The most popular roofing material, asphalt, can be found on sloped, shingled roofs, and flat roofs. Although asphalt roofing materials are reasonably durable and weather-resistant, they’ll eventually be damaged by water, wind, and sun. Such deterioration causes roof leaks, which must be repaired quickly to prevent further damage. We’ll walk you through the most common repairs for asphalt roofs and help you decide when to call in the pros.


Common Asphalt Roof Problems

The two most common types of asphalt roofing materials are asphalt shingles found on sloped roofs and built-up asphalt on flat roofs. Asphalt shingle roofs are by far the most popular on residential homes. Old shingles can curl, crack, and eventually tear as they age. They can lose their ceramic granules and begin to mar from UV rays. The glue seal that keeps shingles together can loosen, and the flashing underneath can dent and crack.

Of course, all of these problems will eventually cause roof leaks. These issues are most common around roof penetrations such as skylights, chimneys, and vents, but they can happen anywhere. Even flat asphalt roofs eventually crack and split with age, which causes similar roof leaks. Heavy storms and rain can bring hail and wind-blown debris that cause physical damage and may even puncture roofing materials.


DIY vs. Professional Asphalt Roof Repair

Regardless of materials, licensed roofing contractors should perform most roof leak repairs. However, there are some small and temporary fixes that homeowners can apply themselves.

DIY Roof Repair

All roofing work comes with an inherent fall risk. If you doubt your ability to follow ladder and roof safety procedures, leave the repairs to the pros. You can also purchase an OSHA-approved fall safety kit, which must be bolted to the roof deck to work properly. Most do-it-yourself (DIY) roof repairs are temporary fixes, such as installing a tarp over damaged shingles or using a patch kit on a small leak. However, permanent and complex repairs are beyond the skills of most homeowners.

Professional Roof Repair

Licensed roofers have the training and experience to safely perform all levels of repairs, from simple to complex. They can also pinpoint leak sources and trouble spots much better than the average homeowner. Additionally, the warranty on many roofing materials requires that a licensed professional installs them, so you’ll protect your financial investment by hiring a pro. A leaky roof left unfixed or partially fixed can eventually compromise your home’s structure, so it’s worth hiring professionals.


Inspecting Asphalt Roof Damage

You don’t have to be a professional to spot signs of roof damage, even from the ground. Whenever a heavy storm passes through your area, it’s wise to walk around your home’s perimeter and inspect the roof for damage. Here are some signs to look for:

If you feel confident in your roof’s structural stability, you can carefully climb up to look at any problem areas more closely. However, if you suspect widespread damage, such as rot or sagging, call a licensed roofer instead of attempting to do it yourself.


Safety Precautions for Roof Repairs

If you want to go up on your roof, wait until it’s completely dry, and the weather is clear, as wet asphalt shingles can be slippery. Use your best judgment on whether the structure is stable enough to hold your weight. Set up an extension ladder using proper ladder safety protocols, including setting the ladder base on a stable surface at least 3 feet from the roof’s edge.

Wear slip-resistant shoes, and secure all items you carry up so you have both hands available to climb. Have another adult hold the ladder, and ask them to remain nearby as a spotter. If you use a fall prevention kit, bolt the anchors to the roof as instructed and attach the ropes to your harness. Don’t leave loose items lying on the roof surface. If you drop something, let it go instead of trying to chase after it.

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Materials Needed for Asphalt Roof Repairs

The exact materials you need for asphalt shingle roof repair will depend on the repair type and extent, but here are some likely materials:

If you’re not sure how many shingles you need, check out our guide to measuring your roof for shingles.


Repairing Damaged Asphalt Shingles

First, locate the damage or leak source and inspect it, brushing away debris and loose granules. If the crack or hole is small, you can often simply fill it with caulk or epoxy and leave it to dry. To repair the space beneath a torn shingle, carefully lift the shingle with a putty knife and spread roofing cement beneath it. Press the torn shingle back down, then apply a small amount of roofing cement or sealant to the crack.

However, damaged or missing shingles must be replaced with new shingles. To remove damaged shingles, slide a flat pry bar beneath the shingle to break the seal with the one below it, and be careful not to tear any undamaged shingles. Pry the nails up and out, then remove the damaged shingle. You may also need to remove the nails on the shingle above it. Lay the new shingle in its place, securing it with four roofing nails above the tabs so they’re not exposed to the elements. Finish by applying sealant to the new shingle’s glue strip and pressing it into the row of shingles below.

Patches and sealant repairs are often temporary until a licensed roofer can perform permanent repairs. Alternatively, you may get up on your roof and determine the damage is more extensive than you thought and beyond your ability to fix. In these cases, lay a waterproof tarp over the damaged area to protect it. Weigh down the tarp edges with heavy objects, ensuring that one tarp edge crosses over the roof peak so rainwater can’t flow beneath it.


Repairing Leaks in an Asphalt Roof

Built-up asphalt roofs can often be repaired with a patch kit. If your asphalt roof has a gravel layer, scrape it off with your pry bar to reach the asphalt and patch it. Remove the gravel 4 to 6 inches around the damaged area and sweep away any dust or debris. Apply the liquid asphalt primer from the patch kit with a brush or roller and allow the solvent to dry.

Cut the asphalt fabric patches to a size of at least 3 inches of overlap with undamaged asphalt. Usually, there will be two layers of fabric, one 4 inches wide and another 6 inches wide. Apply the 4-inch patch first, starting with an asphalt layer of flashing cement on the roof’s surface and pressing the fabric into the damp cement. Use a trowel or putty knife to embed the fabric in the cement. Repeat the process with another layer of cement and the 6-inch patch.

Finally, apply a layer of asphalt mastic over the patches and cement. If there was a gravel coating, replace it. If you have doubts about the patch’s strength, cover the area with a waterproof tarp and call a professional.


Asphalt Roof Repair Costs

The cost of roof repair is substantially less than the cost of installing a new roof, but the total price will depend on the damage’s severity and extent. Here are the costs of some common repair jobs’ costs, including materials and labor, from minor leak fixes to full roof replacement:

Roof JobCost Range

Inspection

$125–$325

Minor leak repair

$150–$300

Replacing shingles

$150–$800

Flashing repair

$150–$1,000

Gutter repair

$200–$625

Correcting roof pitch

$200–$1,000

Valley repair

$350–$1,000

Truss repair

$500–$5,000

Fascia/soffit repair

$600–$6,000

Full replacement (asphalt shingles)

$5,700–$12,250


Our Recommendation

While you can theoretically make small repairs yourself, pinpointing the leak’s source is often difficult, and it can be hard to tell how bad the damage is. If you suspect your asphalt roof is damaged, we recommend getting a professional roof inspection to get more information and plan your next steps. Experienced inspectors can spot small problems early on, saving you money in the long run and extending your roof’s life span.

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Just answer a few questions, and we’ll take care of the rest!

Asphalt Roof Repair FAQ

What are signs my asphalt roof needs repairs?

Here are some signs that your asphalt roof is damaged:u003cbru003eDamaged flashingu003cbru003eIncreased energy billsu003cbru003eLeaks in attics or ceilingsu003cbru003eMissing, damaged, or bald shinglesu003cbru003eVisible algae or u003ca rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022 href=u0022https://www.architecturaldigest.com/reviews/home-improvement/how-to-remove-moss-from-roofu0022 target=u0022_blanku0022u003emoss growthu003c/au003e

How long do asphalt roof repairs last?

Quick repairs with epoxy or sealant are likely to be temporary. Permanent repairs with new shingles may last as long as the shingles themselves, though basic asphalt shingles only last 10 to 15 years.

Can I walk on my roof to make repairs?

Asphalt roofs are safe to walk on as long as they’re dry and structurally sound. Nevertheless, always follow good roof safety practices.

Is DIY asphalt roof repair worth it?

While a DIY roof repair might hold up for a short time, it’s best to have a licensed roofer perform a permanent fix. Improper repairs can lead to serious structural damage down the line.

How often should an asphalt roof be inspected?

After an asphalt roof is about five years old, it should be professionally inspected once a year. However, homeowners should also perform periodic visual inspections from the ground.