Repair a Bathroom Ceiling that Leaks When it Rains
LESLIE: Matt in Virginia’s got a problem. Your bathroom ceiling is leaking. Tell us about it.
MATT: Well, basically, it only happens during torrential downpours. And what ends up happening is that when you climb up into the attic – I have a single floor house; ranch style house – you can’t actually tell … the sheetrock is becoming wet, but you can’t exactly pinpoint where it’s coming in through the roof. Because it’s getting wet some way.
LESLIE: What is your roof like?
MATT: It’s A-frame.
TOM: It’s an A-frame roof? Now, right above that roof, you’re going to have a vent pipe for the toilet. And very often, when you have a leak in the bathroom ceiling, what’s happening is the water is getting in around the pipe that goes right through the roof in that particular area. So the first place that I would check for any bathroom ceiling leak would be the flashing around the vent pipe. Usually, it’s a rubber boot and it cracks and it can deteriorate. And that’s where the water can leak through.
MATT: Okay. What’s the best solution, as far as …?
TOM: If it … if it turns out that that’s where it is? You have two options: number one – you could actually replace the vent flashing, which is not that hard to do – although, I have to say, sounds like you have a very steep roof so it has to be done very carefully.
TOM: Or secondly, you could apply some roofing cement between the gasket and the metal pipe as well. Roofing cement will help but I will tell you that, within a year to two years, it’ll shrink and pull back and the gap will open up again and you may find that you’re going to have to replace it then. So I guess it depends on when you want to do the repair. But the best way to do it is to totally remove the roof flashing vent around that pipe and then just replace it.
MATT: Replace the gasket.
TOM: Yeah, it’s not that hard to do. You just pull a few shingles off; you can use a flat bar to loosen up some shingles. Pull a few shingles off around it. Pretty much just yank it right off the roof, right through the pipe – right up over the pipe – and you slip a new one down, tack it down, put the shingles back and you’re done. I mean the whole thing can be done in a half hour, once you’re set up.
MATT: Yeah. One of the big issues with it is, as I hear from my wife from time to time, whenever we get the torrential downpours, last … last, I guess, spring time and then it went away. Because it was …
TOM: Right. And the reason for that is because when the rain is hitting in a particular direction – if it’s wind-driven or something like that – that can exacerbate the problem. So you might only get it in certain types of storms but not in others. But whenever you have a leak above a bath ceiling, it’s almost always the vent pipe that’s coming right up through the roof in that space.
MATT: Well, I appreciate the … I appreciate the help and everything.
TOM: No problem, Matt. Should be easy to fix. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.