I just had the roof of my house replaced.

The roofers had tarps spread around the house and swept the yard after the work with what looked like a magnet after they finished but I'm finding a lot of nails and staples in our yard and driveway now.

Is this normal, or did I have a sloppy roofer?

Nails and staples.

  • Go over the driveway visually, several times. Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 21:32
  • 1
    If they cared enough to do the magnetic sweep let them know they missed a lot and hopefully they will agree to come back and do it again in exchange for a (hopefully) happy customer. You seem to be finding a lot though .. I don't think that's normal. It might mean the roofers were intentionally throwing all nails down for the sweeper rather than using the sweeper as a backup for the ones they drop accidentally.
    – jay613
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 22:56
  • This is beyond normal. What would be atypical is them sending a guy to walk around with a magnet broom for two hours after the job's done.
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 10:41

5 Answers 5


Unfortunately it is not uncommon for workers to be less than careful or less than thorough in clean up. (nor could i say it is common)

Is it "normal" ? There is no way to answer that question.

If they were "trying" to do a clean up then it would seem that there is a company policy in place to do it but maybe it was not executed properly.

Magnet sweeper

  • 1
    The magnetic sweeper you link to works well, I have purchased 4 so far for our millwrights, the sweepers would probably last forever but they keep dropping sheets of steel or run them over with a fork lift, then I salvage the magnets about an inch thick 4x6 rectangular for putting in the bottom of hydraulic tanks to pick up metal and tie a rope to fish out tools from tanks. Some times even with a magnetic sweeper the nails or staples can be stuck in the dirt or grass so picking by hand is usually needed to get them all. I would say it’s rare to get all of them though.+
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 21:07
  • Look at the positive side ; I collected a couple pounds of new roofing nails with a magnet. ( Discarded the old ones). Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 0:53

Lazy workers.

You may want to try calling them back. Show them what you found. Hopefully a few nails are still in the grass waiting to be found. If they're smart - and want a recommendation from you for other jobs - then the boss will come back with one of his better workers to do a magnet search for more. If they won't come back then that doesn't bode well for any future, more serious, repairs.

  • 1
    I would agree the nails should be obvious for the most part but not the staples, if that’s all that was found that’s not great but not that bad either.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 21:12

Magnets. If you have a rake that is metal, you can put magnets on the teeth. I would twine them in place a little, and not expect to be too rough with it. Maybe even use it upside down. Other than that you're looking at a more manual process.


Walk the lawns at night with a bright flashlight. I found two dozen nails missed even by an additional magnetic sweep the next day by the roofer.

  • While this will help the OP find further nails (Quite a good idea, actually, thanks!) it doesn't answer the question asked of whether or not this is "normal" and if the roofing company should have done a better job of cleaning up after themselves.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 16:55

You can rent a magnetic sweeper from an equipment rental yard. I hope the roofers take care of it for you, but if they don't, rent the right tool for the job; don't spend a ton of time MacGuyvering something.

  • 1
    So your answer is to do what the workers did and that was already confirmed not to work?
    – DMoore
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 19:20
  • The roofers were probably not careful to sweep the whole yard with their mag sweeper. This is the correct tool for the job. If that doesn't work, the next best tool is a shop vac; and that's going to take a lot longer as well as pull up lots of other debris from a typical lawn. Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 19:29
  • 2
    I downvoted because you just said what OP said. If you can specifically give him examples of what to get that would help him. And then I can upvote. He said the used a mag sweeper, you said to get one... that isn't helpful. Also some of these get embedded and the sweeper helps but there are always leftovers.
    – DMoore
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 19:48
  • I agree that you don’t get them all from a yard.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 21:10
  • I'm not trying to push the person toward a specific product; I'm advocating they rent the right tool instead of improvise something with a rake. A lot of homeowners don't think to check a rental yard for tools like this, or necessarily know what to ask for. I'd done a lot of projects with the wrong equipment before realizing just anyone can go rent things by the day! Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 22:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.