Replacing a roof can be expensive, so of course you want to repair what you can when you can. Hopefully that will correct any minor issues before they cause serious damage. But it’s important to know the difference between minor damage that can be repaired and minor damage that’s a symptom of a more serious issue. It’s also crucial to know what you’re doing. You may have a mean backhand when it comes to using a paint roller and you know your way around a carpenter’s shed, but do you have the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively repair a roof? Make sure you don’t make these mistakes next time you have to fix your roof.

Mistake #1: Rejecting Professional Guidance

Attempting to repair a roof on your own is a way to cut costs if you know what you’re doing. But even if you’re an expert with your nail gun, it never hurts to have a second pair of eyes evaluate the job. Having a professional roofer assess the damage and give you tips may save you money and save your sanity. Hiring a roofing inspector once you’ve completed the work will give you assurance that you completed the job properly and that your roof will stand up to the elements.

Mistake #2: Improperly Using Fasteners

Using the right kind of fasteners for your roof and replacing any mislaid or loose nails that are currently installed can make or break the quality of your repair job. Use the right number of fasteners for the job as well. If you don’t use enough, you could be asking for more trouble.

Mistake #3: Incorrectly Installing Flashing

It’s also important to properly install flashing. Flashing keeps rain from collecting in corners and seams in the roof. If you see leakage around your chimney every time it rains, you may need to completely reinstall the flashing; simply repairing in with caulk is not a reliable fix. When installing step flashing, make sure it is properly aligned and overlapped. If not, you may be causing more problems than you’re repairing.

Mistake #4: Making Dangerous Moves

Whenever you’re on the roof, it goes without saying that you’re putting yourself in a precarious position. Falls are common among roofers. Make sure you have a steady ladder and someone to assist you. Trying to do everything yourself can lead to disaster. Stay off the roof if it’s icy or slick from rain. Wait until the weather conditions are ideal before trying to repair your roof. It’s better to endure a leak for a few more days than to end up in the hospital because you tried to fix it during a rainstorm.

Mistake #5: Neglecting to Look Beneath the Surface

Your roof shingles may not show any sign of damage at first glance. Or maybe you have recently repaired any that did, but you didn’t check out the deck to which they were attached before you patched them up. If the substrate has any signs of moisture, mold, or damage, your roof is not going to hold up securely no matter how spectacular your shingles are. If the damage is extensive, you may need a new roof, so fixing up a few areas won’t get you too far.

When it comes down to it—or up to it, as the case may be—roof problems should not be taken lightly. Hiring a professional to inspect any damage may save you a great deal of money and time in the long run. If you must do any repairs yourself, make sure you follow these simple guidelines to avoid making mistakes that could set you back even further.