Expert answers on roof repair

Expert answers on roof repair

Get on top of roof repair with this advice from three highly rated contractors in the field.

Total Home Roofing and Construction

Kevin Delaney, owner

Merritt Island, Fla.

Ranch Roofing

Bob O’Sullivan, owner

Arlington, Mass.

RC Roofing

Richard Clark, owner

San Diego

What are the most common kinds of repairs you perform?

Kevin Delaney:

Valley leaks and chimney leaks. Any time there’s a hole in someone’s roof, those are the first things to start going.

Bob O’Sullivan:

Chimney flashing, any flashing going up a wall, and any protrusions through the roof. Leaks usually happen anywhere two junctions meet.

Richard Clark:

Here in San Diego, and in most of California, tile repair is the most common. A lot of tile roofs in the 1980s and 1990s in California weren’t put in very well, so we do a lot of repairs on those.

What are early warning signs a roof might need to be repaired?


You’ll see some granule loss, washing out after heavy rain into the gutters. If there are dips, discoloration or deformation in the roof, those are signs there may be some issues.


A lot of rodents like to chew at flashing, so if you see the flashing lifted, moisture is coming in. Dampness on the side of the roof is also a bad sign.


With tile, there’s really no way to know until it starts leaking. But when you get a leak, we can open up the roof and figure it out. A lot of times we’ll take up the tile and re-roof using the existing tiles.

What can you do to ensure the longest life for your roof?


Proper ventilation is the key. You don’t want to pressure-wash a roof’s exterior, as it will damage shingles. If you allow heat in your attic to release, it’ll make your roof last longer. And once you see a leak, you want to take care of it immediately. The cost of a repair is affected by how long it’s been leaking and where it’s at. If they get to it right away, it’s less expensive. It will cost more if the leak is behind stucco or chimneys, which are harder to get to.


Make sure you keep the roof and gutters clean. The shingles should be laying flat instead of cupping up. Exposure from the sun causes the most damage.


If you have a tile roof, have a professional replace broken tiles, install secondary flashing, cut open your valleys one inch on each side and extend your tile pan over the tile.

How long can you expect a roof to last?


After 15 years, you’re going to end up repairing so many spots it won’t be worth it in the long run. If you’ve got more than one leak, you know the roof is starting to break down.


If a roof is more than 15 or 20 years old and it starts leaking, it probably needs to be replaced rather than repaired. When it’s that old and leaking, you cause more damage when you go onto the roof.


The older-tile roofs last about 20 years, but if it’s done to today’s standards, it’s closer to 40 or 50 years.

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