If you notice a piece of shingle laying in your yard after a storm, you may be tempted to ignore it since it seems like such a minor thing. The problem is that even a single missing shingle, or a portion of a larger shingle, can leave your roof exposed to moisture and eventual water leaks. The following can help you fully understand the problem, as well as what needs to be done to repair it.
The danger of one missing shingle
Most asphalt shingles are actually three shingles attached together, which is known as three-tab shingles. If a single shingle tears off, that means there are two more still attached but weakened -- this could result in even more damage during the next storm. Also, you can likely see the dark strip where the shingle came off. This strip has minimal protection compared to the gravel-covered shingle that came off. Within weeks, UV damage can degrade that exposed area and moisture can begin to seep under it. The result is a warped or rotting roof sheathing and water damage in the home -- both more expensive issues than a single missing shingle.
Act quickly with a temporary fix
One lost shingle doesn't mean you need emergency shingle roof repair -- with some forethought, you can prevent immediate damage while still giving yourself time to assess your options and choose a repair service. The first task is to prevent exposure to the damaged section. You can have a small piece of tarping installed over the damaged spot to protect against moisture and UV damage. Although not attractive, a tarp can provide a temporary patch for weeks to even months if no severe weather is expected.
The options for repair depend on the rest of the roof. If the roof is generally in good condition, then you may only need to have the three-tab shingle replaced. This is best done by a professional since they have the skills and tools to place the shingle correctly beneath its neighbors without causing further damage. This also allows the roofer to fully assess the underlayment and roof sheathing to ensure there is no damage that was caused by the shingle coming off.
On the other hand, if there is damage to the underlayment, or if your roof is older and starting to show other signs of wear, then a full replacement may be in order. It's best to depend upon a professional assessment so you can make the right choice and avoid further problems down the road.