I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely easy to notice other people’s mistakes. Not a week goes by without me saying to my wife or to myself: “What were they thinking?” Our friends traded in their old SUV for a brand new BMW 3-series… nice car but at $40K and with a kid and a mortgage – what were they thinking? My friend built a wood-burning heater for his hot tub instead of just replacing a dead heating element. Then one night a wooden deck where this contraption was placed caught on fire. No, NOT from burning the wood in the DIY heater but from a lightning strike attracted to all the coiled copper piping wrapped around the old metal trash bin which served as an “off the grid” hot tub heating element. I give my friend bazillion bonus points for creativity yet ask the same question – what was he thinking?!
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy to recognize your own mistakes in the making. Like this spring when I noticed a few suspiciously raised shingles on my roof. We had a lot of snow and ice this winter and with constant freezing and thawing, water must’ve gotten trapped under there unsealing the shingles. When I first made this discovery there were no leaks inside the house yet so I said to myself “lets wait till it gets warmer and we’ll tackle it then”.
If you have kids you know that time passes at a dizzying pace. Work, daycare, groceries, errands, play time, bed time… on and on, don’t forget to come up for air. I remembered about the roof only when, after a torrential downpour, my wife exclaimed “what is that?!” causing me to quickly give up any hope for that elusive Saturday morning sleep. Looking at the ceiling in the hallway I saw a tell-tale sign of a leaky roof – fresh water spots spreading on our hallway Sheetrock ceiling. Son of a $&#@!
Actually, that earmuffs outburst was directed at myself. I managed to delay a minor fix that now required a much greater effort. Replacing a couple of shingles is one thing, but dealing with soaked Sheetrock inside the house is a whole other can of a Big Mess. Especially when the leak occurred in the most difficult area in the entire house – right over the 2 story foyer. There is really no easy way to get that opened up and fixed.
But before we can even start thinking about the drywall we need to address the problem on the roof. To help assess the damage without risking my life just yet I used my trusty Rebel equipped with telephoto zoom lens to snap a picture showing the carnage that was my neglected roof:
I wanted to kick myself for letting it get this bad! The main reason I was avoiding dealing with this issue is simply because I’ve never done any asphalt shingle work before. Obviously a lousy excuse since:
A) I could’ve called someone months ago and paid a couple of hundred to fix it preventing further damage OR
B) I could’ve looked up DIY instructions available on YouTube
For the record, I ended up going with option B – I just wish I did it sooner.
I watched several shingle repair and replacement videos that made the job seem relatively simple compared to some of my previous DIYs. I found this video to be the most helpful. I already had a few new sheets of shingles left over in my garage from the previous owners. All that was needed was some roofing nails and a tube of caulk.
Luckily my Wood-Burning Hot Tub friend was in town and he agreed to help me tackle this job. The hardest part for me was actually being on that roof. You see, my roof is pitched at steep angles and, being the amateurs that we are, we were flying untethered. It was definitely nice to have someone else there for moral support.
Two of us on the widow-maker roof… It doesn’t look like much but it’s a whole different view from up there.
The actual repair took us about an hour instead of the 10 minutes that it would probably take a professional roofer. We deliberately went slow trying to repeat all the steps we saw in the video exactly. Mostly, because neither of us wanted to be on that roof again any time soon.
Overall, I think that anyone can tackle a small shingle repair or replacement project like this. Watch the linked videos and it’s really as easy as just carefully repeating the steps. Of course the level of difficulty can sky-rocket depending on the pitch of your own roof. On my roof, there are a couple of really steep peaks where I’ll be calling a roofer the next time I notice a loose shingle. No way I’m flying untethered there!
While learning a new skill is always useful, there is a much bigger lesson here. If you see a small problem don’t get lazy and let it turn into something much larger. A raised shingle on your roof, a squealing noise from your car, an occasional pain in your body can all lead to much bigger problems if left unattended. You might not be able or want to DIY but try to diagnose it early and get it fixed.
Next time I’m tempted to say “what were they thinking?” I’m going to first examine if I’m doing everything possible to avoid that question asked right back at myself.