Something made a tidy 3/4" diameter hole through my 8-year old 3-tab composite roof shingles. (~45 deg pitch, if it matters) I suspect it was a woodpecker (they used to go at the side of the house, till we wrapped it in hardi-plank.) Another possibility is yellowjackets - this Seattle house has had its share.

The hole seems a little large to be yellowjacket-created, but I don't know, really. I am surprised at anything taking the time to go through the asphalt like this. Anyone know what it could be? Can I just replace the affected shingles and call it good?


  • 1908 construction, re-roofed in 2007
  • 45 degree pitch roof
  • 50-yr architectural 3-tab. 8 years old
  • Hole cleanly penetrates 3/4" plywood underlay.
  • 25 feet above ground level (Any solvent would have to have come from a flying source)
  • Hole is nearly vertical (not perpendicular to plane of roof. EDIT: Looked more carefully-it is a little past vertical (Farther from perpendicular to plane of roof.)
  • Hole is above where ceiling meets roof (sloped ceiling. Not accessible.)
  • There are no power cords running through the rafter bay at that spot.
  • I fished around with an olive grabber and recovered a couple of pine needles and insulation from about two inches down.
  • A red-shafted northern flicker has taken serious interest in this house in the past, and still frequents our lawn and pine trees.
  • Looking around the area, I found a half dozen beginnings of other holes, diameter of a pencil eraser, halfway through the outermost layer of shingles. Could be old. The large hole could be old too.

It is bizarre. I give up. Onto the repair.

I'll get more/better photographs tonight. Hole at night The hole My keys in the hole

  • 2
    What does it look like from the inside? Is this the only one? I've nebver heard of woodpeckers or bees going after shingle roofs, and when they do go after something, they rarely stop at one hole. Jan 19, 2015 at 23:42
  • @CoAstroGeek Can't get at it from the inside. I went back up with a longer probe - 2-3" down I hit insulation. I think it is right where the interior wall meets the ceiling/roof. (There is some peeling wall paper and a damp spot in the plaster) Looking around the area, I found a half dozen beginnings of other holes, diameter of a pencil eraser, halfway through the outermost layer of shingles. Could be old. The large hole could be old too - it is totally invisible from the ground. Since these other holes were definitely started from the outside, I think it must be a woodpecker.
    – Adam
    Jan 19, 2015 at 23:51
  • Could it be that some solvent (kerosene, gasoline, benzene, etc.) was spilled or sprayed on the roof? The shape suggests gravity might have an effect.
    – wallyk
    Jan 20, 2015 at 4:23
  • 4
    What about a meteorite? Could it have possibly been caused by a firework (magnesium burns pretty hot, and is commonly used in fireworks)?
    – Tester101
    Jan 20, 2015 at 10:58
  • 1
    Solvent might damage the asphalt, but unlikely to put a clean hole through the fiberglass reinforcement or the plywood below. It would also run down that steeply sloped roof. Jan 20, 2015 at 18:33

2 Answers 2


I call them manufacture burn holes, I see them in most roofs even roofs only 1 year old, it is normally where there are either loose stone or poor seal of the stones on the shingle and with out the stones there is no protection and the sun will burn right thru the asphalt, it looks like your in this picture had some help with insects or yellow jackets, normally it just goes to the fiber or the shingle below, here is picture of one year old roof, just starting to deteriorate, enter image description here

  • Not as exciting an answer as "meteorite," but probably correct.
    – Adam
    Sep 6, 2016 at 23:04

To answer your question, the hole, regardless of what made it is small enough to let the new shingles go right over it as long as the plywood has some rigidity left to it in the area that the hole is.

To answer the curious question what caused it, could only ever be speculated so it seems. Perhaps one of those cameras on a flexible rod could get a look of the roof sheathing from the back side to see what kind of damaged was sustained since there is no access. It may find something inside that may be a clue on what happened. Or since the roof needs work, cut a small square out and use that as access to see what evidence there may be inside the attic. Then fasten a new "plug" with backer, back in.

In my opinion, what I think may have done it was a heavy pointed object, whether it be a falling limb, which I think is still unlikely due to the size of the hole. That size of a limb to fit in that size of a hole, the limb would be too weak due to its diameter. I have seen a 1 1/2" diameter limb do a number on a roof, stabbing straight into it, though not the case here.

As a mention, these shingles look like they are not on the roof no longer since I do not see any sheathing splinters through the hole. Splinters should be visible, unless the hole is THAT clean.... That would be pretty amazing.

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