Replacing Roof Shingles

Replacing Missing Roof Shingles Problems

So…yesterday during what I can only describe as heavy, heavy rain, I discovered we had a few roof shingles missing from the roof over the deck on the front of the camp.

During the heavy rain I noticed that the inside of the veranda, under the roof, was as wet as the outside. A quick look up told me what I figured was happening, a leak in the roof. Looks like it was going to need a roof repair. Well no roofing contractors for me, I am a do-it-yourselfer after all….

The Widow Maker

So today I pulled out “The Widow Maker” which is what I call the piece of old aluminum extension ladder that I keep around here for jobs like this and climbed up to have a look. The old ladder is pretty safe since I bolted the little piece of steel on the side where it had cracked. Good as new.

Sure enough, a couple of shingles were missing, right over the place where the water was dripping in. No big deal, just a quick fix, a couple new shingles and all will be right with the world.

I made a list of the tools and materials needed to replace a missing roof shingle; roofing nails, hammer, pry bar, can of roofing tar, new replacement shingles, fear of heights….Wait a minute….that last one might be a problem.

Yes I had all the prerequisite tools to replace the missing shingles. All I had to do was get up there and get at it. Except I have a bonifide fear of heights, specifically roofs. I can get up a ladder quite far, climb a tree quite far, but by God when I get on a roof I immediately get dizzy, my stomach gets upset, and I have a feeling of dread that is unimaginable.

I Need A Plan

But the problems of missing roof shingles weren’t going to replace themselves. I thought of all the alternatives, including coating the back of a couple roof shingles with roofing tar, getting up the ladder at least a few rungs and throwing the shingles up on the roof.

Hopefully one would land over the spot where the shingle was missing and stick down. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Yeah, except that proved to be a little more difficult than I hoped.

I scrapped that idea after the wind came up, and blew a shingle back off the roof hitting me in the face, getting roofing cement in my hair and another one stuck to the windshield of the Dodge Caravan. (I told Wendy it would help keep the sun out of our eyes, she didn’t buy it)

Missing Shingles Don’t Replace Themselves

So when that plan fell apart I found myself left with not much choice, although I am considering designing a remote control robot that can install roof shingles. However, that is gonna take me some time in the shop. I don’t have that kind of time right now, nope, if those shingles were going to get replaced, I was going to have to go up there…..

I steeled myself up to the roofing job, stalled around as much as possible, then finally bit the bullet. I took all the supplies for roofing, the roofing materials needed up the widow maker ladder and placed them on the roof, shoving them back away from the edge.

I considered getting on the roof right then and there, but decided it must be suppertime, plus it was pretty windy. Perhaps after supper the wind would die down.


Had my supper. Volunteered to do the dishes, both wash and dry, got annoyed when Wendy insisted on drying them. I finished the dishes, steeled myself up again and went back outside.

But first I “searched the net” as my Dad says, looking for immediate cures for a fear of heights…yeah well that didn’t work….but I did learn the name for it, “Acrophobia”…..

The wind was still blowing, but it didn’t seem quite as bad. I had a walk around the property, looking at how much the lake had risen since the rain…damm rain…without rain we wouldn’t need roof shingles…

Time to Go Up

I looked up at the roof. From the ground it didn’t look very high. All my tools, new shingles, nails and a can of roof cement were up there. What’s worse, I had pushed them back far enough that I would need to get up there in order to get them down.

I sucked in my breath, and climbed the shaky old aluminum ladder without stopping, stepping up on the roof. Well actually it was more of a crawl on to the roof…but nonetheless I got on the roof. I remember trying to channel my thoughts to other stuff, like why can’t I win the damm lottery so I could pay someone to get on the damm roof?

I regretted my earlier decision not to tie a big rope around my middle and the other end to the chimney. But I couldn’t figure out how to get to the chimney without the big rope tied around my middle to tie the other end to the chimney so I decided to forgo the rope. Besides I figured, if I fell with the rope tied to me I would likely end up dangling upside down or something. That whole safety harness thing gets complicated, like how do you know the right length to use?

Don’t Look Down!!

Don’t look down I told myself. Don’t look at the lake, don’t look at the chimney, just look at the job at hand, the missing shingles, the tools. Don’t look sideways. Don’t look up.

I grabbed the pry bar and got to work. Got one shingle in place, then another, drove a few nails in, briefly wondered what would happen if the roof collapsed underneath me, imagined it would be pretty messy…

I figured that a few nails would hold the shingles at least for tonight…started to get a little dizzy…not feeling good at all….a boat went by on the lake…tried not to look….looked….got really dizzy….then good old Lonesome Larry and Alleghany Al lit a bloody big bonfire across the cove…the whoosh sound as the flames took hold made me look over there….oh my…dizzier…oh boy….no time for panic…started to panic.

Where’s the ladder? It’s way over there, at least six GD feet away from me. How did it get so far away? Suddenly the damm ladder doesn’t look very safe. I started considering my options of which there really were none.

I know…I will get Wendy to come hold the ladder for me, steady it for my descent….

International Distress Signal

“Wendy” I said, not loud, but not quiet, “Wendy!” a little louder…she is in the camp with the television on, cannot hear me over the evening news….I pound on the roof, tap-tap-tap…then do it again…tap-tap-tap surely she will recognize the international distress signal of three things together like that, tap-tap-tap….tap-tap-tap…then TAP-TAP-TAP!!!!!

No response, I can still hear the television, doesn’t she know that three taps, three of anything together, is the signal of international distress ????

On My Own

I’m on my own. On the roof. Help isn’t coming. Help doesn’t even know I need help. It’s kinda windy. I am kinda dizzy and my stomach is kinda unsettled. I regretted the extra pork chop and potatoes I had for supper. But they were good.

I wondered what would happen if I fell…would I throw up? or would I be knocked out? or both?…would it matter? I’d likely be dead anyway.

I figured Wendy might find me after dark, when it would be too late to save me, not that I would want to be saved and live life as a vegetable….a goddam fat turnip sitting in a chair all day….nope….not for me…I giggled a little to myself when I considered that I didn’t really look like a turnip, I am more pear shaped. The giggle helped briefly.

Realizing my predicament and choosing to risk life as a vegetable rather than suffer what would only be a dreadful indignity and call Larry and Al to come rescue me, I made my way to the damm rickety aluminum ladder. I made a note to myself that if I survived, I would buy a new ladder.

Blocking out everything I could, I concentrated on survival. I swear I was like a cat, at the very least a squirrel. My fingers dug into the roof shingles like claws. I made it to where the ladder leaned against the edge of the roof and without looking, I swung my right leg over the edge and found a rung….too high…had to move my foot further down, reach for a lower rung….my left leg still on the roof, my claws digging into the shingles.

I hung there for a what seemed an eternity, like I was stuck in a time, the world stopped, as I hung half on the roof and half on the ladder….Finally I felt my the next rung down with the toes of my right foot. I took a deep breath, that damm boat went by again, I refused to look….then I looked…it was a pontoon boat….

I swung my other leg over the edge, found the rung and I was on the ladder!! Whew !! I reached up, gathered up my tools and threw them to the ground before climbing down the ladder. Job done.

I dusted myself off, put my tools away, took the ladder down and went inside the camp and explained the international distress signal of three taps to Wendy.

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