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Roof Leaks: Time for Replacement, or a Repair?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Sandy in Rhode Island’s up next and you’re having some roof situations. What’s going on?

    SANDY: Well, my roof is pretty much in good shape but I have some trouble spots. And I have two stacks where the water is leaking in on the inside. And I also have flashing, apparently, where there’s a connection to a porch and a study that it’s coming in. And my question is how do I go about … the companies that I’ve called tend to do just whole roofs and not repairs. So what do I look for when, you know, I’m calling and what … I just want to be sure that I’m getting quality; that they’re using the right nails and that they’re doing the repair correctly. And I wonder if you have some guidance.

    TOM: Sure. It sounds to me like you’re experiencing what is the very most typical type of roof leak and that’s a flashing leak. You mentioned protrusions like the plumbing vent stacks that come through the roof. You mentioned chimneys. You mentioned intersections. And how old is your roof shingles right now?

    SANDY: I do not know.

    TOM: Well, how long have you been in the house, Sandy?

    SANDY: I’ve been in the house eight years and I was told that a couple of years before I moved in, the roof was put on.

    TOM: OK.

    SANDY: And no one can really tell me. I know that it’s only a single layer. And it’s a Cape. It’s a 1935 Cape.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    SANDY: But the roof is relatively … you know, they said it’s in … it’s in good condition. So it’s not a question of repairing or replacing the whole roof.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s just a question of finding out where the leaks are. I think what you’re going to have to do is you’re going to have to do some phone work to find a roofing company that’s willing to do a repair; not simply sell you a new roof. If the shingles intact – the shingles not cracked, it’s not deteriorated, it’s not broken, it’s not damaged – then there’s no reason to replace the shingles. This is simply a repair project; not a replacement project.

    Now, having said that, I want to warn you that there were some fiberglass shingles that are now about 10 to 15 years old that were defective and they have fissures that go through them and crack. So now if it turns out you have any defective shingles, then you might need to replace it. But that will be obvious to you. You may have to be on a … on a ladder to see it but you’ll see fissuring and alligatoring through the shingle. And if that’s what you see and that seems to be causing the leak, then you do need to replace the roof. But in most cases, it’s just the flashing that has to be fixed. And you’re just going to have to find a roofer or a repair person that’s willing to make those repairs. They’re out there. But they take a few extra calls than just saying, “Hey, I want a new roof. You know what I mean?”

    SANDY: What about a stack? How do I know if I need a new stack? Is that (INAUDIBLE)?

    TOM: When you say stack, are you …?

    SANDY: Well, I don’t know if I’m using the right term. Whatever sticks out of the roof.

    TOM: Well, there’s a lot of things that stick out of the roof.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) So a new chimney or …?

    TOM: There’s chimneys. There’s vent pipes. I thought you meant the plumbing vent stack.

    SANDY: Well, that … that’s the one that’s over the bathroom and leaking is coming in through that.

    TOM: Well, that’s a very simple repair. There’s a piece of plumbing vent flashing that’s available with a rubber boot that’s the same size as the pipe. If it’s a two-and-a-half inch pipe or a three-inch pipe, it simply gets slipped over the top and shingled around and that’s all you need to do.

    Now, it’s also possible to tar around the areas that are deteriorating because it’s a rubber gasket that typically breaks down there. But frankly, if you’re going to have a roofer there, I would … I would rather have him replace it because it’s not that big of a deal to do. And it’s not … it’s going to last a lot longer.

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