If you have an asphalt roof that is leaking, then you may inspect the entire surface for missing shingles or noticeable holes. While these are two of the most obvious places to start, there could be many other areas where a leak can occur. If you have already looked for roof holes or openings, then start looking at the ridge cap that is located on the very peak of the roof and make repairs if there is a need.
Ridge Cap Inspection
When a roof is first installed, the asphalt shingles are secured in overlapping layers from the bottom edge to the very top ridge. This happens on both sides of the roof and a device called a ridge cap is set over the ridge where the roof peak is created. This cap is a long and wide piece of asphalt that looks much like the shingles on your roof.
The cap is made wide enough that it covers the last row of roofing nails used to secure the shingles on either side of the peak. This also means that the ridge cap must be forced or bent downward on either side of the ridge. Professional roofers will use roofing cement to secure the ridge cap, and nails are used on the ends. However, if not enough cement is utilized or if the adhesive has worn away over time, then water can work its way underneath. If you feel comfortable climbing to the very top of your roof, then inspect the ridge cap to see if it is pulling loose.
Cementing the Cap
If the ridge cap is loose, look for cracks or other damage across the surface. This will indicate that the cap must be replaced, and it is best to contact a professional roofer for this. However, if there is no other damage, then you should add cement and force the ridge cap back in place. Roofing cement is a mixture made from asphalt tar, fibrous strands, Plasticine, and mineral spirits.
The material is quite sticky and varieties can be found for both wet and dry materials. While it is wise to work on a dry roof for safety reasons, roofing cement for wet applications can be used in emergency situations. Roofing cement should be applied so it is about one-eighth of an inch thick underneath the loose edge of the ridge cap. Use a putty knife or a trowel to add the cement and press firmly on the asphalt when you are done.
Usually, sections of asphalt ridge cap materials are used across longer ridges, and these materials are overlapped on the ends and secured with roofing nails. If you notice that the ridge is pulling up in the middle where the ridge caps overlap, then you should nail the end back in place. In most cases, the top cap will overlap the bottom one by several inches, and the bottom cap will be the one that is nailed down.
Try to lift up the top ridge cap to find the nail underneath. Remove the old nail with the claw end of a hammer and add a new roofing nail beside the old hole. Do this on either side of the peak. Fill in the nail holes with a generous amount of either silicone or polyurethane caulk. Also, add this sealant around the top of the new nails so they do not cause a leak issue.
You will need to allow the sealer to dry for about one day. Afterwards, use your roofing cement to cover the underside of the top ridge cap and press it down to secure it in place. You can add a small amount of silicone or polyurethane sealer along the exposed lip of the overlapping ridge cap to add another layer of leak protection.