Replacing an old roof starts with tearing off the old shingles. Learning how to remove roof shingles involves manual labor, but a few tricks of the trade speed up the process. Be sure to follow the preparation tips to cut down on time spent on clean-up. You should also observe all safety guidelines because roof work always poses the risk of falling.
A garden fork or tear off spade is an acceptable alternative to a special roofing shovel as they are more commonly-owned items.
How to Remove Roof Shingles Step By Step
Prepare the Area:
- Obtain a building permit if required in your area.
- Select a time to work when the weather forecast is dry.
- Rent a dumpster at least 20 cubic yards in size and have it positioned close to your home if possible.
- Spread tarps around the edge of the house to catch nails and debris.
- Disconnect power to your air conditioner and cover the top with a board.
- Place roof jacks about 3 feet up from the eaves and nail them to rafters below your work area with 16d nails.
- Nail 2 x 10 lumber onto the roof jacks
- Attach your safety harness to the top ridge of the roof and connect yourself to it.
Removing the Asphalt Shingles:
- Using the roofing shovel or garden fork, tear off the ridge cap.
- Work the shovel beneath the top course of shingles and felt paper.
- Lift up 2 to 3-foot sections at a time.
- Let chunks of torn-up shingles slide down to the roof jacks.
- Sections that don’t slide down may be carried to the dumpster and tossed in.
- Repeat this process as you work downward toward the roof jacks.
- When debris builds up along the roof jacks, carry it to the dumpster.
- Once you reach the roof jacks, take them out.
- Pry up remaining courses of shingles with the shovel but leave them sitting there.
- Go to the eaves, and pry shingles and paper up with a pry bar.
- All the shingles should be loose now, and you can pull them off the roof.
- An ice-and-water barrier along the roof edge that refuses to lift off may be left in place.
- Pull out remaining nails on the roof.
- Sweep the entire roof clean.
Special how-to notes for roof flashing:
- Check condition of flashing along chimneys, skylights, exterior walls, or dormers.
- Flashing free of rust, cracks, or excessive tar may be kept.
- Carefully pry out nails on flashing.
- Tear out shingles and underlayment along flashing.
- Always tear out and replace vent flashing and valley flashing.