Asked on Dec 16, 2012

Should I Worry About Exposed Nail Heads On Roof?

Jeff C
by Jeff C
We had the roof torn off and redone about a year ago. While cleaning out the gutters, I've noticed that there are some exposed nail heads. I would think that these are supposed to be covered by the lower row of shingles. Should I be worried about the exposed nail heads and cover them with clear, silicone caulk?
  30 answers
  • Call the roofer back as that is ridiculous - yes they can rust & allow leaks over time / are not holding the shingles in the proper place possibly allowing for blow off in high winds If you just wish to cover them... Silicone won't stick so well & you would be better off with a little tar & some granules to hide it (check your gutters for granules) The best thing though is to replace the 3 or shingles
  • Trent-Tonya Sharp Trent-Tonya Sharp on Dec 16, 2012
    yes call roofer back we had a our roof done and same thing happen to use and we didnt know until 2yrs later when we had leaks so yes it will cause leaks
  • Jeff C Jeff C on Dec 16, 2012
    Unfortunately, it's the Amish that redid our roof and we can't exactly just call them up and have them fix the issue. So I'd prefer if there was a simple method of covering up the nail heads with tar or something else. We felt the major impacts of hurricane Sandy here in northern Ohio with 70+ mph winds and we didn't lose any of the shingles.
  • The tar is quick & you can actually buy it in caulking tubes & smooth with a small plastic putty knife - the catch is it won't last as long as the shingles so you need to check it every year. Replacing the few shingles means you are good to go With that said, you should still check you roof every year still but at least you wont have to worry about fixing the patch
  • I would suggest to remove the nail and put a urethane sealer which can be found at any home store to seal the hole from underneath. Remove nail, lift shingle and apply a small dab where nail penetrated shingle, then push the overlapping shingle down and your done. Just make sure that you don't damage the shingles lifting them up. I would recommend doing this on a sunny day and after exposed to sun for a few hours. Make sure the shingle has the proper number of nails in it also.
  • Paul M Paul M on Dec 17, 2012
    This definitely is no good. If you can't get them back then get some black polyurethane, otherwise known as NP1, pull the nail, carefully, then force the polyurethane into the nail hole while leaving a small domed piece on the shingle. This will last as long as your roof and if done properly will never leak in that location.
  • We call these, "shiners", I agree with Paul, a urethane caulk is the best bet, pull the nail, cut the caulk high on the tube so its only a small hole, put the caulk tube point into the nail hole and squeeze some caulk into the hole. Mound some caulk over the hole and you'll be good.
  • I agree with the last few suggestions. However this faulty install has some other concerns. You said that you cannot get the Amish fellows back that did the roof? Did they nail the roof properly in the first place? There are special nailing patterns that are required by the roofing material supplier that must be used to get the high wind warranty. If they did not nail the shingles properly, what is to say they did not use the correct nailing pattern. I would suggest that you check the for the correct pattern for the shingle type you have and lift a few shingles up before they really glue down to see that they did it right. This is another reason that all roofs need to be permitted and inspected and done by qualified companies. Just about anyone can install a roof, but doing it right takes experience and knowledge that not everyone has. I cannot tell you how many roofs blew off during our last storm event. And when looking at them up close, many were not nailed correctly. While many that were withstood the peeling back often seen during high wind events.
  • Number 1 there is no place for tar or caulk on a shingled roof. Its unprofessional. If you can get in touch with the Amish morons on who installed your roof, have them come back tear out and replace the compromised shingles. I'll tell you from experience. Its a pain in the ass. Caulk or tar in a tube are band aids and not real fixes. Why should you have to band aid a new roof? Low nails. They are not that big of a deal but it just goes to show the sloppy carelessness of the installer. If they cant complete this very simple task I would expect them to have made more mistakes with with installed. My crew never leaves low nails behind. Its kinda hard to considering what your doing is less then 2 feet away from your eyes. There are no excuses for low exposed nails. 99.9% of the time the low nails issues are not very likely to cause a leak. In some cases it could but it would be hard fro me to tell you that with out looking at the rest of the roof. Aside from all that. Do you self a favor and ignore any advise for using tar. These people have no idea what they are talking about. This is the most common mistake. Although tar and the new shingles you have are closely related the manufacturing possess is way different and the 2 are most likely to repel each other. Todays pro roofer will use a product called geocel 2300. a clear silicone caulk that holds up better and lasts longer than tar. Tar usually drys up cracks and make a nasty mess. On another note, Be careful when hiring anyone to work on your home. Ask around for recommendations and choose wisely. Also dont let the Amish get away with doing what they did. Make them stand behind the work and if they dont get the city or town involved and they will make sure the Amish do whats expected of them. There is never any excuse for poor craftsmanship. Marc Mosello - 1ST Response Roofing Ltd. of Boulder, Co
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Dec 17, 2012
    I'm curious if this was installed by amish if they hand nailed every thing...being opposed to power tools etc. A pneumatic roofing nailer is indeed a wonderful tool. I my neck of the woods roofs are 6 nailed instead of the more common 4. Hand nailing a whole roof would take much longer and if they are charging by the hour rather than the job you are being taken for a ride.
  • Kevin that is exactly my point. Showing sub par work such as this makes me wonder if they did the nailing properly to start with. I think they did use power tools however. My reason for this is that it is doubtful that they missed several nailing locations so nails are exposed. this does happen on occasion when nailing quick with nail gun however. More so with inexperienced roofers but it does happen. A pro would have torn off the shingle and re nailed a new one in its place however.
  • The Amish around here have every power tool imaginable... just no cars or electricity at home. They do have power in the shop or milking parlor, just off grid, on generators.
  • Jeff C Jeff C on Dec 17, 2012
    Thanks all for the tips and suggestions, I had a feeling exposed nail heads were no good. Getting those amish guys back out here is more of a struggle than anything else so I may have to hire a different roofer to fix the issue. But, I wonder if they'll be able to replace the shingles with the same ones I have. After a year in, I don't need to be patching the roof with different shingles lol. Also, the nails are still pretty shiny after one year, do these galvanized roofing nails ever actually rust? How would I be able to determine if the nailing was done properly? Is there anyway I can take pictures and you folks could help me determine that?
  • Brian Bogia Brian Bogia on Dec 17, 2012
    Use roof cement on the nails. Just cover the nails. Check it every year.
  • The nails are galvanized. This helps prevent against rusting. But as time goes on they will begin to rust and stain. The way to check the nailing pattern is to lift the flaps on the shingles on a warm, not hot day. This way they flex and not crack. Once you lift them up you need to look under them to see about the location of each nail. You may not see the nail, but you should be able to determine where about it was placed. Armed with that info, you can go to the manufactures site that the shingles were made from and look for suggested pattern. All shingles require four nails. However in higher wind areas additional nails are required to meet the requirements on prevention of peel off. They will show you where the nails should have been placed, tell you length and amount needed.
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Dec 18, 2012
    I learned a lot by reading this. I had a roof installed and learned the hard way. They didn't put paper underneath and didn't nail down half the shingles. Had to have it redone. Back then I didn't know better until the first good rain,
  • Sherrie, You'd have a heart attack if you had a chance to see some of the stuff Ive seen in this business. It all boils down to the fact that there are more salesmen then craftsmen and also the fact that most installers get paid by a piece rate thus giving them the incentive to make fast money and do poor quality work. This is common here in Colorado, especially Boulder.Its not just roofing its all trades. Almost every company out this way will tear off and install a roof in 1 to 2 days. Every project that is installed with that type of speed is usually not one that will last. The industry standards are extremely low in this part of the country. Be sure to check back with me in a couple weeks. I will be uploading a hall of shame album so you have a better understanding of what industry standard is.
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Dec 20, 2012
    I was in Boulder a month ago! Love the area if I ever had to move I would move to Colordo. Yes I do know I experienced more than enough. The roofer I used had done a friends house several years ago. He came out I checked him through the BBB, I also checked under municipal court. Nothing great ratings. This is where the clever part came in on his part. I signed the contract they came out and did the work. It didn't rain for two weeks. The first rain it poured into my newly remodeled house. Walls, painted floors all redone, new light fixtures, bathrooms remodeled. I sat here watching it and called my roofer. No Answer. Huh? Called the next day, and next. I then decided to call BBB...I looked at the receipt .. The name didn't pop up. Did it again. Then I grabbed the contract. Two different names. Okay I got it. Called the bank they stopped the check even after two weeks. I put the money in escrow to show good faith and then he called me. Asked me why I was treating him that way. I had my insurance company and two other roofers at my house by then. No roofing paper was put down and part of the shingles had never been nailed. And some parts they used old shingles. The people I did hire had done several people in the neighborhood and I had several people give me their name. One day. It was suppose to rain again. They tore off and worked like demons to get it done so my house wouldn't be damaged again. Gratitude. Professional, not one spec of dirt, not one leak. The crew were tearing, another crew was rolling out paper and shingles. I would hire them again in a heart beat. I did here from the other roofer one more time. Telling me I had cheated him. I told him to take me into court. I had the money to show good faith. Never heard from him again. I kept the money in escrow for a year and finally took it out. But you as a customer can't be unwilling to work with a contractor. I would have been more than glad to do so but I couldn't wait for anymore damage to be done,
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Dec 20, 2012
    There is a house in my neighborhood that has large "groups" shingles that have shifted and slide down. The owner is a bit of a wacko so I can not get some close up pics. The only way I could imagine that happening would be if those shingles were never even nailed. Which is just mind blowing to me.
  • Harold M Harold M on Dec 21, 2012
    If you can't get the roofers back to fix it, I'd use "roof cement" on each nail head, unless there is alot of them. Even if you pull the nails and renail I'd put a dab of roof cement on the holes
  • Harold, Roof cement is obsolete and doesn't stick as well as you would think. There is a product called geocel 2300. Its clear and it hold up really well with the hot and cold as well as the UV. Sherrie, I'm sorry. That must have been real frustrating. By the way, in my own experience the BBB isn't an organization you can trust. Ive seen other roofing companies around here who I know and have seen produce some real deal shotty work. Still and all with 50 complaints they have an A+. That is like a slap in the face of the consumer. .We have never had a complaint and still we have an A- minus rating. They told me over the phone that if i want an A+ I'm will have to sign up and pay them 350-400/month. Basically they tried to shake me down. I dont think they will be around to much longer. Its a huge scam and people are starting the catch on. Here is a link to the 20/20 interview with the BBB about 2 or 3 years ago. Thanks everyone and have a nice day!
  • Clay B Clay B on Dec 21, 2012
    There should be no nails exposed, and no nails under a seam. It's a roofing company you used (licensed), you should probably address it with them first; then if no results, take them to court, seriously. Then you'll hopefully have some extra money to get it fixed properly. You may need to get it fixed, then sue for what it cost you to fix.
  • Bernice H Bernice H on Dec 22, 2012
    @Sherrie What a horror story..I feel for you! @Jeff C thanks for sharing this. This is a most informative post! @1st Response Roofing Ltd. thanks for the info on BBB...@KMS Woodworks @Woodbridge Environmental wow! Thanks for the info...I will keep it in mind. We had to have our total mhome roof replaced and "gussets" installed in 96, if you have a permit does the inspector come back to check the quality of work? I hope Jeff gets this resolved, but.... it is winter now.
  • Bernice, In Boulder they never check for the quality of the install and that is because almost everyone they hire has never worked in the trades. Code and quality are 2 different things. The only thing the permit is for is: city or county revenue and next to that a legal binding between the home owner and the contractor in case something goes wrong and you want to sue them. Never let anyone work on your home with out a permit. Always ask for their license and there insurance paper work. Hope that helps. Happy Holidays everyone!
  • Jeff C Jeff C on Dec 22, 2012
    Well, considering it's Winter time and the roof now has snow on it, it will be awhile before I can check the nail pattern. It won't be warm around here for another 4 months or so.
  • No the inspector simply checks to see that the roof is on. They may look around the bottom edge for ice and water shield. But that is about it. Its up to you to hire a contractor who understands how to do a roof properly.
  • Bernice H Bernice H on Dec 23, 2012
    Well, then what the heck good is getting a permit?Just so I could sue someone? sheesh! @Jeff C I hope it holds up for you this winter! We have a neighbor who has a blue tarp nailed to his roof! I hate seeing how people are not able to pay for repairs on their homes, especially older folks on limited incomes. I know it would be hard for us or most anyone, but older people are so stuck when it comes to this kind of stuff.
  • Andre Beluchi Andre Beluchi on Mar 09, 2016
    For someone to leave an expose nail after installing new shingles does bring some warning signs. It would like seem like giving them a call back to have them come back to fix the issue would be a good idea. If that doesn't work, then maybe the next option would be to maybe take out the nails yourself if that's possible.
  • Just Gerry Just Gerry on Jun 18, 2016
    You need to sort this, I am in Ireland where we rarely get snow but water , rain, snow, frost etc., will find its way in and even if it doesn't go through to the ceiling it will cause the timbers to rot. Perhaps slip a piece of felt under the top row and lapping over the nail head. Gerry
  • Stuart Davis Stuart Davis on Oct 01, 2017

    They were leaking from day 1, and further if you wait 1 yr and go up in attic of ANY and Every asphalt "shingle" roof house will have stains on bottom of plywood deck. Manufacturers make materials and methods worse each year, but since it takes 7-12 years for plywood to disintegrate YOU don't know it leaks until then. EVEN the touted 40 yr warranty architectural* are still asphalt and still go bad after 7-12 years (that's why the Labor is only guaranteed for 5 years and with inflation you will PAY about the same ). * the 40yr guarantee/warranty is PRO-RATED, so they make you pay that way as well.