Roof Leaking: How to Fix Properly?
LESLIE: Amy from Iowa is on the line with a roofing project gone awry. What’s going on?
AMY: We do. We do have a troublesome roof. About five years ago, we got a new roof installed on our house. We were having a leaking problem, some ice dams in the winter. And we got the whole roof replaced and since then, we continue to have a leak. The problem never got solved and we are stuck with this issue once again. So, we’re kind of stuck, at this point, wondering if we go back to the original contractor and try to get him to replace or fix the problem or if we go elsewhere and have somebody completely replace and redo the entire roof.
TOM: Well, first of all, when it comes to the contractor, has the contractor come back since the roof installation to address this yet?
AMY: Yes. In the past couple of years, we actually have contacted him and told him about the issue and that it never was fixed. He did send out his roofing guy – a subcontractor – and nothing ever got solved. They said, “Oh, it looks fine. We don’t think it’s really going to be an issue.” And then we have water pouring in our living room and buckets on the carpet, so …
TOM: So they never did anything?
TOM: Alright. Now, tell me about the roof configuration over the area where the leak is showing.
AMY: Right. We have been told, after having all of these other professionals come out, that we have a very tricky roof. The design of the house, I guess, is not the greatest. Basically, a lot of dead valleys is what they told us. So we have dead valleys that – holding the water and creating these problems where the water is sitting and coming in, which is causing our leak inside of the house.
TOM: So you say “dead valleys.” It means the water is getting trapped in the valley?
AMY: Yes. So, basically, the roofline is coming to a point where it runs right into the siding.
TOM: Oh, OK. So, basically, the roof drains towards the siding?
AMY: Yes, that’s correct.
TOM: Yeah. That’s a really tough spot. Hmm. OK. So, if that’s the case and it’s just not fixed, it’s just not working, I think most likely you have to not only take the roof off but probably some of the siding. Because what you have to have there is a special type of flexible flashing that will essentially seal the siding to the roof.
You probably also would want to cover that entire area of the roof with ice-and-water shield, which is sort of a bit tacky and will give you that waterproof capability and also stop ice dams from coming up under the shingles. But Grace makes both ice-and-water-shield and some very flexible flashings. Grace is a terrific building-products manufacturer, so you could look up some of those.
But I do think you’re probably going to have to redo that, especially if you have an area where water is running into it. That’s a really common place for a leak and frankly, this roofer that came out and looked it and said everything’s fine, he doesn’t know because he didn’t take anything apart. And if you’ve gotten leaks underneath that, it’s not so fine. So you certainly could take another run at the contractor but I suspect it’s going to have to be taken apart and rebuilt properly. That didn’t happen the first time.
AMY: Right. So do you suggest going back to the original contractor?
TOM: At least once.
AMY: Yeah. If he’s willing to do any repairs, I mean honestly, I am hesitant to have any of his crew come out. He did tell us that the people that worked on our roof no longer work for him. But I still am very hesitant to have the same contractor come out and try to make repairs when we’ve had other reputable roofing companies come out and say it’s the worst installation job they’ve ever seen. So that makes me really nervous as a homeowner.
TOM: Well, maybe in that situation, if you’re just not – if you’ve just completely lost confidence in the contractor, then maybe you should just accept the inevitable and have a more professional roofer come out and fix it right.
AMY: OK. OK. Yeah, it’s – that’s a tough one.
TOM: The problem is when you have that kind of a hidden leak like that, it’s really hard to do any kind of repair from the surface of the roof. It really is a matter where you have to take things apart and reassemble them, because making that roof waterproof starts underneath the shingles.
AMY: Sure, sure. OK. Well, that makes sense. Yeah, it just wasn’t done right the first time. So, we’re stuck in the same spot, unfortunately.
TOM: Alright, Amy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.