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Find Where Your Roof is Leaking

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Patricia in Massachusetts, who listens to The Money Pit on WPRO, has a leaky roof. What’s going on?

    PATRICIA: Hi there. I was calling you because I have a persistent leak that I have during a nor’easter.

    TOM: OK.

    PATRICIA: And I have an old Victorian house. And the leak is … I have two floors in my house and the leak is on the first floor. I have a flat roof and I live right by the ocean. So I’m thinking maybe it’s coming in through the rubber roof or ….

    TOM: Well, Patricia, that’s a tough roof. It’s a tough roof. You got a flat roof and you live near the ocean so you’ve got a lot of exposure, sure you got a lot of wind and you’ve got a lot of driving rain. And a flat roof is, you know, very susceptible to leakage. Let’s face it. It’s not nearly as leak resistant as a pitched roof is.

    So, what do we do about this? Well, we have to be a bit creative. Now, have you thought about trying to hose down portions of that roof – of course, on a dry day – to see if you can make it leak? Because, probably, what’s happening is one of the flashing points – and it could be around a parapet wall or it could be where there’s a protrusion through the roof, like for a vent or a drain – is leaking. And when you have a lot of water pressure because of that driving rain, that’s when it’s coming in. So you have to become a bit of a detective when you have a roof leak like this and try to put your roof through some paces so you can try to figure out exactly where it’s leaking. And only then will you be able to address it.

    PATRICIA: Right. I did have it replaced once – the rubber roof – but …

    TOM: And did that solve it?


    TOM: It never solved it. Well, then maybe it’s not the flat roof at all. It could be coming in somewhere else.

    PATRICIA: Right.

    TOM: I mean, you say it’s a two-story house and it’s coming in on the … down on the first floor. You know, it could be coming through siding. It could be coming through flashing. Do you have a chimney that comes up through it? There could be a bunch of different places that that’s coming in. So what you really need to do here is to separate the roof into different sections and try to flood those sections and see if you can make it leak.

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