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Should exposed roofing nails be sealed?


Craig123
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We recently purchased a new construction home and had a home inspection before taking possession. We have moved in and have a short list of items for the contractor to take care of. One is addressing the inspector's comments about the roof which were:

"My only problems with the roof are exposed nail heads located on the final cap shingles at the dog ear eaves and ridge caps, and unsealed nail heads on the plumbing boot flashing. All exposed nail heads should be sealed to prevent roof leakage."

We recently moved from California (where we had clay tile roof) to Alabama where we have this sloped architectural shingle roof, so I am unfamiliar with this. My question, is it common and necessary for sealant to be used as indicated by the inspector? I am curious if the roofer did a sloppy job or if the inspector is attempting to be overly thorough in his report.

Many thanks for your comments.

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Originally posted by Craig123

We recently purchased a new construction home and had a home inspection before taking possession. We have moved in and have a short list of items for the contractor to take care of. One is addressing the inspector's comments about the roof which were:

"My only problems with the roof are exposed nail heads located on the final cap shingles at the dog ear eaves and ridge caps, and unsealed nail heads on the plumbing boot flashing. All exposed nail heads should be sealed to prevent roof leakage."

We recently moved from California (where we had clay tile roof) to Alabama where we have this sloped architectural shingle roof, so I am unfamiliar with this. My question, is it common and necessary for sealant to be used as indicated by the inspector? I am curious if the roofer did a sloppy job or if the inspector is attempting to be overly thorough in his report.

Many thanks for your comments.

It's really common for roofers to nail off the specific locations you mentioned without sealing the nails. Sometimes it's fine, sometimes the nails leak after several years as things loosen up.

Your inspector was giving you good, conservative advice. Send someone up there to seal the exposed nail heads. There's no hurry though.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Exposed nails, visible at ridge ends, are not covered with asphalt plastic cement. Generally accepted building practices and most shingle manufacturer's instructions call for exposed nails (and the ridge end location is inevitably exposed) to be covered with an asphalt plastic cement to prevent water leakage.

Shingle manufacturer's void their warranties when the shingles are not installed in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. If conflict over these issues arises, consult the shingle manufacturer directly to ask if they will warranty the roof without the shingles being installed in accordance with their instructions.

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Originally posted by Erby

Exposed nails, visible at ridge ends, are not covered with asphalt plastic cement. Generally accepted building practices and most shingle manufacturer's instructions call for exposed nails (and the ridge end location is inevitably exposed) to be covered with an asphalt plastic cement to prevent water leakage.

Do they actually specify plastic roofing cement? I never recommend that stuff for anything. It'll only last 3 - 5 years down here before it dries out and cracks, meaning you have to do it again (and again, and....). I tell clients to use silicone or polyurethane caulk. They last way longer.

Brian G.

In Sunny Mississippi [8D]

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Originally posted by Brian G.

Originally posted by Erby

Exposed nails, visible at ridge ends, are not covered with asphalt plastic cement. Generally accepted building practices and most shingle manufacturer's instructions call for exposed nails (and the ridge end location is inevitably exposed) to be covered with an asphalt plastic cement to prevent water leakage.

Do they actually specify plastic roofing cement? I never recommend that stuff for anything. It'll only last 3 - 5 years down here before it dries out and cracks, meaning you have to do it again (and again, and....). I tell clients to use silicone or polyurethane caulk. They last way longer.

Brian G.

In Sunny Mississippi [8D]

Some plastic roof jacks and plumbing vent flashings actually say not to use asphalt cement on them.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I traced a very nasty bunch of damage on my own house to a single partially exposed nail head.

It took about 8 years, but one day when I was on the roof cleaning gutters, I felt a little spongy softness in the sheathing. It ended up being a full sheet of ply sheathing that was totally rotten.

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Hi,

I'm with Kurt and Jim. It won't happen right away, but it does happen. Every once in a while I'll get into an attic and find a black spot of rot fungus developed around the point of a nail or two. On the roof, these are invariably not sealed. It seems like it takes a number of years for the seepage to reach the backside of the deck. One can only imagine what the deck looks like around that nail under the underlayment.

I'm not sure what's best to use. These manufacturers aren't all formulating their sealants from the same substances. Some of the vinyl jack vents that are installed are probably not compatible with petroleum-based sealants, and maybe not with the acids used in silicone-based sealants. I've never really explored it. I see what looks like silicone that's been used on these which has split all the time, but other stuff that also looks like silicone is doing fine. Sometimes I see the black goop doing fine after many years; sometimes it's all split after only a few. I suspect that the safest stuff to use will be a water-based sealant like one uses on an APP membrane, but I don't know for certain that's the case.

If a nail isn't sealed, it's prudent to call it out, but I only state a compatible sealant and let them figure it out. When I see the sealant, I don't know whether it's plastic, asphalt, petroleum, or silicone based and I don't care. It's sealed, it's not cracked, it's working at the time of the inspection. That's what I care about. I'm not a chemist.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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