Tips for Finding the Leak in your Roof
LESLIE: We’re going to talk roofing with John in Utah. Tell us what’s going on.
JOHN: Yeah, I’ve got a roof that’s leaking in two spots. It’s got the – it’s got a one-inch thick shingle; the wooden shingle.
JOHN: And I can’t figure out where the leak is exactly and I was wondering if there’s something I can spray on these wooden shingles without having to tear this whole roof off to repair it.
TOM: Well, are the leaks anywhere near intersections? Because, typically, the number one place a roof is going to leak is around, say, a plumbing vent flashing or where two roof planes come together or where the roof might intersect with an upper story of the house. Do you suspect that any of those areas could be involved or perhaps where a chimney comes through?
JOHN: There’s one that’s like right in the middle of the roof; there’s no pipes or anything going through.
JOHN: It comes right down – it drips down off of my chandelier.
TOM: Oh, boy. (chuckles)
JOHN: And then the other one is right above a shower.
TOM: OK, for the one that’s right above the shower …
LESLIE: So that extra water really doesn’t make a difference. (chuckles)
TOM: Yeah. (chuckles) I would look to the plumbing vent that’s going to be in that same area. That would be a very common leak. If you have a shower in a bathroom, you’re going to have a plumbing vent that’ll come up through the roof. There’s going to be a flashing collar around that and, generally, those collars have like a rubber boot and they often crack and deteriorate and get really leaky.
As for the one that’s in the middle of the roof, is that a roof that you can walk on?
JOHN: Yeah, I can walk on it.
TOM: Well, why don’t you get up there with a hose and see if you can be very strategic about running some water down your roof and try to figure out and narrow down what you’re doing; where the water has to run to cause the leak.
LESLIE: And not just down. Like spray up and sideways and sort of be aggressive in spraying at the shingles because sometimes you get high winds that sort of lift things up and force the rain under. But be safe.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, I would start using gravity to let the water trickle down the roof and if that doesn’t work, then you can, as Leslie said, get a little more aggressive with it.
Also, if it’s possible to get up into the attic at the same time after – at the same time you’re doing this and have somebody look up and keep an eye, maybe between the two of you, you can figure out where the leak is. It’s going to probably come down to some cracked shingles somewhere in the middle of that space and it might be that they expand and contract, as wood often does that; and it only happens, perhaps, when the shingles are fairly open.
JOHN: OK. Would I have to take those shingles off in that spot or can I repair it on the inside or …?
TOM: If you identify where it is exactly and you’re absolutely convinced that it’s leaking in that place, yes, you would want to take the shingles off. But because they’re wood shingles, you can – once you get the first row off, you can slip a flat bar under them and pry up the nails and basically extract them; get down to the bottom and fix it and then put them back together again.
JOHN: Alright. OK, well thank you guys.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.