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Locate the Source of a Roof Leak

  • Transcript

    TERRY: Ren from Utah is calling about a problem at his place of work. How can we help?

    REN: Hey, we’ve got a two-story building that I’m working at and I guess a year or two ago they had an add-on. They added a single story to the front.

    TOM: OK.

    REN: And anytime it rains it leaks. And I guess the roofers have come out and they’ve patched where the seam is. It’s a flat roof. And they’ve patched where the seam is and it just seems to leak and I guess they came out like three different times and the roofer, I’ve heard, has just basically given up. So they – I don’t know what to do. There’s nothing we can do for it. I was just wondering if there’s a way that we could figure out where it was going to be – where it was leaking from and what would you suggest to patch it.

    TOM: Ren, since the roofer’s have pretty much given up I think it’s time to call in a roof inspector that can help pinpoint the area of the leak.

    REN: OK.

    TOM: There are some tools that are available to help detect leaks in flat roofs below the surface and they’re essentially infrared, thermal imaging detectors. They can be thermal imaging cameras or other sorts of infrared detectors and basically the way they work is because wherever the leak is there’s a temperature differential between that and the surrounding area that helps pinpoint it. Once you pinpoint it then it’s a matter of taking the roof apart in that area and putting it back together the right way. It’s not really any more complicated than that. But figuring out where these leaks are is the trick and it might be that where it’s showing up inside is not exactly where it’s originating from so you may have to do sort of a …

    REN: That’s what I was thinking because it can be – there’s two ways of doing it. It wicks from a place …

    TOM: Correct.

    REN: … and it also just follows the path of least resistance from another place.

    TOM: Exactly. So I think if you did an infrared roof inspection you’d probably find it. There are a number of service providers that do that. One of them is called American Leak Detection. It’s a franchise operation. They’re on the web at AmericanLeakDetection.com. I am certain you can find a good quality roof inspector in your area that has this kind of equipment. But if it’s frustrating the roofers I think you need to get an outside expert in there that can help pinpoint and specify the location and then design the repair.

    REN: That’s what I was thinking. It’s a matter of detecting where it’s actually coming from because if you slop it on – slop on the goop where you think it’s going to be and it doesn’t work that means it’s somewhere else, right?

    TOM: (overlapping voices) That’s right. That’s right.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. Exactly.

    TOM: You need something better than the goop slopping method of roof repair. (Ren laughs)

    LESLIE: Before it just becomes goop coating.

    TOM: Exactly.

    Ren, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    REN: Thank you.

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