One of the most alarming types of damage on a roof is a puncture. Punctures can vary in severity, so repair methods may also vary.
One of the most common causes of puncture damage is debris falling from trees. Overhanging branches are the usual culprit. When a heavy branch breaks off, either due to wind or age, its weight can cause it to pierce shingles or even the decking. High winds and ice can increase the problem. Wind, in particular, adds velocity to dropping branches and increases the chances of puncture.
The risks of punctures are also high on roofs that see a lot of foot traffic, such as those with HVAC units positioned on top. Stepping on weak roofing areas can lead to punctures, as can dropped tools or equipment misuse. Older roofs that are beginning to suffer degradation of the shingles or decking are at higher risk of punctures from all causes.
Punctures can be minor or severe. A minor puncture typically only penetrates through the shingle and perhaps the outer layer of the tar paper or felt underlayment beneath. Minor punctures may also affect seals, flashing, or boots around vent stacks. As long as the puncture doesn't penetrate the decking, it is considered minor.
Major punctures affect the decking, roof supporting structure, or both. Decking is the sheathing or roof cladding. It is typically made of plywood, and it provides the surface that shingles are attached to as well as the main surface for the ceiling inside the attic. Most often, severe punctures occur when a falling branch or other object penetrates through the shingles and then into the decking and attic below. Sometimes damage is even more severe. For example, a tree that has blow down onto the roof can puncture the shingles and decking and crush supporting structures like trusses and joists.
Repair depends on the severity of the damage. Most minor punctures can be spot repaired. The damaged shingles and tar paper or roofing felt will be removed and then new underlayment and shingles are secured in place. Damaged flashing strips can be replaced with no other repairs to the roof, as can damaged boots. Seals simply require a fresh coating to repair.
Severe damage can sometimes be repaired. If the roof is otherwise in good condition and there is no major structural damage to the roof supports, then your roofer may replace the damaged decking board and then reshingle it. For older roofs that are nearing the end of their lifespan or those with multiple punctures or support damage, a whole new roof may need to be installed.
Contact a roof repair service for more help if you have puncture damage to your roof.