The first thing you need to do is learn safe ways to position your ladder so that you do not wind up falling due to a slide out or a tip over. Usually on the side of the ladder is a picture or what I like to refer to as a gauge to level the ladder out on the ground. Be mindful of your gutters as well.
I recommend that if you weigh over 175 pounds that you should purchase a ladder off-stand and secure it properly as to not damage your gutter. Here’s why: One of my employees did not follow the instructions of attaching the ladder off stand. As a result he needed me to reposition that ladder with him. When I grabbed the ladder from the back side and lifted the ladder, well the off-stand fell off top of the ladder and struck me in the head. I bled very bad on my forehead and developed a severe concussion as an end result and it was not a pretty site. I still carry the scar to this day.
So let that part of my story help add a little common sense approach to you climbing on your roof. I also would never recommend the do it yourself type to climb on a roof pitch any steeper that 7/12 roof slope as another safety concern. The other safety concern you need to consider when investigating your roof leak is your attic space. When climbing around in your attic you have to walk on the ceiling joist and have some level of balance. Even I have stepped through a ceiling in my 20 years and landed in the garage. Pretty painful event without a doubt.
I have been an Atlanta Roof Leak Repair Specialist and trust me I have seen everything you can think of from simple to hard roof leak repairs. Now that we have covered some safety issues, let’s get down to brass tacks. The first thing you need to do is become a detective. You need to identify the area the water is entering your home by a looking your ceiling over. The next step would be going into your attic and trying to pinpoint the entry point of the water. If you can locate that then you are half way there.
Now let us assume you found the leakage from the attic. If you are lucky it will just be a couple of simple things that you found, Nail pops or in other words a backed up nail head has poked a hole in your shingle. Or another scenario could be that you have a plumbing vent that is allowing water to run in around the neoprene grommet that has just worn and split over time. For the do it yourself-er, I recommend having some plastic roof cement,Hammer, Shingles that match as close as possible, Hooked utility knife blade and a flat-bar type of pry bar for this work.
To separate the shingles correctly you will need to check the pliability of the shingles to make sure that they are still flexible enough to repair. On most roofs that are up to 15 years in age this should be no problem for you. You will take the flat bar and in a forward motion you slowly start to separate the shingle tabs. When cutting the shingle make sure to use the hook blade that you can purchase at your nearest hardware or home improvements store.
NOTE: All Asphalt shingles over lap and under lap so every succeeding course will always have nail from above attached to the course below. You need to be mindful when separating to remove nails that will interfere with your tie in of the old shingles with the new shingles.
The nail pop will usually be the easiest repair compared to the plumbing boot. The plumbing boot will require you to remove several shingles just to remove the boot itself. The nail pops will just be a matter of cutting out the damaged shingle tab and getting all of the attached nails loose so that you can nail the tab back in place properly with a new shingle tab.
Very Important NOTE: Before you remove your plumbing boot pay close attention to how it was originally installed. A good rule of thumb is to make that no more than 1/3 of the bottom of the roofing flange from the plumbing flashing is exposed and that the rest of the shingles are cut very close and round to the curve of the plumbing flashing’s shape. Nail the bottom of the flange into the newly replaced shingles always. Never leave those shingles that were on the roof below the flashing to begin with. Those shingles will usually have older nail holes in them and will leak if not addressed in the first place.
Last but not least is you need to make sure that there are no tear in your shingle and that any and all exposed nail heads are sealed up with the plastic cement. When you remove the nails don’t forget to re nail the old spots under the old shingles as well as the new shingles.
If you have any questions or concerns you can go to GAF/Elks website and watch some roofing videos to help you understand the mechanics of the type of roof you are working with. I know I have said a mouthful and I hope that you appreciate that I am Joseph Vann Hamby one of the many Atlanta Roofing Specialists that work everyday solving roof problems for the benefit of property owners both commercial and residential.