How to Repair Missing Shingles on a Roof

By Amanda Lutz Updated March 21, 2024

Your home’s roof protects it from water damage, so any shingle that falls off during a storm could negatively impact your living space. Because of this, homeowners must replace shingles as quickly as possible to keep their houses safe and dry. We’ll explain the potential causes of missing roof shingles, how to properly replace missing shingles, and when to contact professionals in the guide below.

Reasons for Missing Roof Shingles

Wind damage is the primary cause of missing asphalt shingles, but other events can harm your roof too. Read more about the likeliest causes of missing shingles below.

When you understand how shingles become displaced, you can more easily plan out repairs. Some types of damage might require a simple tuneup while others could call for a full roof replacement.

Steps to Replace Missing Shingles

Since missing shingle granules expose your home to moisture, you should replace shingles as soon as possible. You can approach repairs with do-it-yourself (DIY) methods if you have building experience and are confident that you can safely work on the roof. Follow the steps below to replace missing asphalt shingles.

1. Assess the Damage

Begin your project on the ground by counting how many shingles have fallen off of your roof. Use binoculars to find the area from which shingles have fallen, and try to distinguish between damaged and missing shingles.

Survey the area more closely only if you’re comfortable climbing a ladder and can easily access the damaged area.

2. Gather Necessary Materials for the Repair

Once you’ve determined how many new shingles are needed, see if you have any replacement shingles from your roof’s most recent installation or repair. If you don’t have leftovers, buy new shingles from your local home improvement store.

If the roof is more than a few years old, you may have trouble finding a perfect match. In this case, consult a roofing professional for color-matching services. You could also uninstall shingles from a less visible area of your roof and place new shingles in those spots. Note that this will add to the total time it takes to complete the project.

You’ll also need residential roofing materials and tools to complete the installation, including those listed below.

3. Loosen and Remove Damaged Shingles

Once you have all needed supplies, climb your ladder to get on the roof while following proper safety precautions. Once you’re on the roof, test the shingles surrounding the damaged area to see if they’re loose. Use a pry bar to carefully peel back damaged shingles and pry loose the nails that hold the damaged shingles in place. Remove damaged shingles and any remaining torn pieces.

You may need to loosen functional shingles that surround damaged shingles to properly remove each damaged piece. Gently take the nails out to avoid damaging any functioning shingles.

4. Install New Shingles

Place new shingles over the space you’ve cleared, using adjacent shingles as guides. Cut shingles to precise lengths with your tin snips. Lift the shingles above your workspace, and slide new ones into place. Secure the new shingles by hammering roofing nails into the nailing strip.

5. Nail in Surrounding Shingles

Inspect the shingles that surround your repair, and replace any nails you’ve removed. Test the surrounding shingles for looseness, and secure them as necessary. If you can’t access the nails, then secure shingles with a caulk gun and roofing tar.

6. Apply a New Coat of Roof Sealant

You must replace the original sealant that kept your shingles in place. Lay a bead of roof sealant along the glue strip at the base of your new shingle and firmly press it onto the shingle below to seal it in place.

Once you’ve completed the replacement, gather your tools and safely descend the ladder.

Urgency of Replacing Missing Shingles

Shingles are the outer layer of your home’s roofing system, so it’s the first layer of defense against the elements. If shingles go missing, your home becomes susceptible to damage.

Missing shingles allow moisture to pool, compounding the risk of water reaching your roof decking and damaging the roof structure. Synthetic and rubberized asphalt roof underlayment can repel moisture for weeks, but heavy rain could cause water to seep under the shingles and compromise your home’s roof decking.

Replace missing shingles as soon as possible or hire a professional to replace them. Cover missing shingles with either a tarp or another type of waterproof coating in the meantime.

Preventing Shingles from Going Missing

Keeping your roof intact is the best way to protect your home. Below are a few things to remember that can help prevent shingles from falling off your roof.

When to Get Professional Help

Roof repair is a complex and sometimes dangerous job, so hiring a professional roofing contractor will keep you safe. If you’re unable to safely work on the roof or lack confidence in your abilities, hire a roofing professional. They’ll also help you determine the degree of damage your roof has incurred and can explain whether you’ll need additional repair work.

If your roof is still under warranty, call the roofing company that installed it. Check with a homeowners insurance adjuster to determine whether a professional roof inspection is required. Also ask whether a DIY repair approach could cause the insurance company to deny an otherwise valid insurance claim.

Our Recommendation

Every roof shingle has a job to do, so you must replace missing shingles quickly. You can replace shingles with DIY methods if you have roofing experience, but calling in a professional may be a better approach. Trained roofers can inspect damage to your roof with a critical eye.

There’s no way to ensure that shingles will remain intact forever, but routine maintenance and inspections can help to extend the life span of your shingles and keep your roof in top shape.

Missing Shingles on a Roof FAQ

Will my roof leak if some shingles blew off?

Your roof will leak if you don’t replace shingles that blew off. The type of roof underlayment you have and the degree of damage incurred dictate how quickly the leak will start.

How long can a roof go without shingles?

How long a roof can go without shingles depends on the materials that are beneath them. A damaged roof with felt underlayment requires immediate shingle replacement, but one with synthetic or rubberized asphalt underlay can go months without shingles if there was proper roof installation. Either way, it’s in a homeowner’s best interest to quickly replace shingles.

Is roof damage by wind covered by insurance?

Roof damage by wind is covered by home insurance in many cases. If your roof is past its expected life span, though, the damage may fall under wear and tear clauses, which aren’t always part of coverage plans.

Can you replace just a few shingles?

You can replace a few shingles on your roof, but it isn’t always a good idea. If the roof is aging, adding a new roof to your home is frequently a better option.

What happens if a shingle falls off the roof?

When a shingle falls off the roof, your home becomes increasingly susceptible to damage. A missing shingle will expose your underlay, leaving room for moisture to enter. This can ultimately damage your house’s crawl space, insulation, and ceilings.