Find the Source of a Roof Leak
LESLIE: Up next is Green from Chicago who’s got a leaky roof. Tell us what’s going on.
GREEN: Okay, we had the roof stripped off and they put new wood up under the roof from the ceiling. It’s a two-story brick bungalow in Chicago. And it’s not leaking at the rooftop; it’s leaking between the floor … between the first floor and the second floor the ceiling and I don’t have a clue what’s going on because they took everything off, they reshingled it and everything and it’s still leaking. When it rains.
TOM: Well, what water tends to do, Green, when it gets into a building, is it’s going to find a path of least resistance. And it can very often run down a wall cavity, for example, and then come out across the floor and then maybe leak through to the ceiling below. So it, unfortunately, does not always leak exactly where it’s happening; it can run a ways down.
But let’s talk about the places that roofs normally leak. Typically, it’s not in the shingle itself. Typically, it’s in the flashing. So anyplace there’s a junction between, say, a plumbing pipe that comes through the roof or an intersection between two angles of the roof or an intersection between a second-story wall and a first-story roof, these are the places that roofs commonly leak.
Now, one way to track this down is to actually run a hose up there and flush a lot of water down in different parts of the roof to see if you can figure it out. If you can’t figure it out visually, sometimes running water against these areas is another way to try to track it down. But I would caution you because that could be very, very dangerous unless you’re, you know, securely on a ladder or, you know, have some other way of attaching yourself or being secure to the roof. It’s probably better, if it’s a second-story roof, frankly, to call a contractor to do that.
But what you have to do is eliminate the obvious and that’s all the flashing points first. And then you can do a water test and see if you can track it down from there. But the fact that it’s showing up between a first and second floor structure like that, not unusual because water will run down the path of least resistance. It could be shooting right down a wall cavity and then coming out across the ceiling.
LESLIE: Yeah, I mean the leak could be nowhere near where it’s coming in the house.
TOM: But that is what you’ll need to do Green. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.