Do It Yourself Home Repair: How To Fix Problems With A Slate Roof

If your house has a slate roof, it is probably very old. One advantage is that once installed, it is a durable material that can last with little maintenance. Here are some repair tips.

If you live in a house that has a slate roof, then your house is undoubtedly very old. Slate roofs were popular with builders in the United States from the 1850's to the 1920's. They can be seen in green, gray, red, purple, and black colors. One advantage of a slate roof is, that, once it's installed, it is a durable material that can last a hundred years or more with very little, or no maintenance at all. Slate is a natural material that has a tendency to break up into thin layers of rock. Not only is it hard and long lasting, it is one hundred per cent fire resistant. That, and slate doesn't absorb rain water or melted snow. Instead, water tends to freely slide off of its slippery surface.

On the other hand, being that it's a type of rock, a slate roof adds quite a bit of weight to a house. Therefore, the structure of the house must be sound enough to support the weight of the roof satisfactorily. Another disadvantage of a slate roof is that it's costly to purchase. And, if you ever need to hire a contractor to repair it, you'd better be prepared to spend a lot of cash.

If you are a do it yourselfer, you can actually perform some repairs on your slate roof. To start with, the roof on your house is probably very high, so you'll need an assistant, an extra long ladder, some scaffolding, and a safety harness. First, you'll need to climb up onto your roof in order to assess the damage. If you're going to need to replace one or more pieces of slate, you'll also have to locate a company that sells the rectangular slate pieces. You'll also need some galvanized roofing nails and a slate remover. This is a metal tool that has square corners and a hook.



To replace a piece of broken or cracked slate, you'll need to use the slate remover. You'll have to slide the hook under the shingle that you want to remove. Make sure the hook snags the nail. Then, use a claw hammer to pound on the slate remover in order to remove the nail. Once the nails are removed from the piece of rock, it should slide out freely.

Now, you'll need to check the wood underneath to make sure it is solid. If the wood is rotted or otherwise weakened, you'll need to replace it. Make sure that you match the new wood with the existing wood, and that you prime the replacement with a good quality product first.

Finally, put a new piece of slate into place. Simply position and hammer in some galvanized roofing nails into the replacement slate.

Another common problem with slate roofs is that it can leak because of faulty flashings. Older flashings were made with pieces of thin copper. This copper tends to corrode and develop holes in it after many years of service.

If this describes your slate roof, then you'll need to replace the existing copper flashing. Nowadays, you can purchase copper flashing that is coated with lead for added resistance to weather. Simply remove the existing flashing and measure and cut the replacement piece. Then, nail the new copper into place using galvanized roofing nails.

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