Repairing a Roof Leak: Re-flash Around Roof Vents to Prevent Snowmelt Issues

We need to repair a roof leak we are experiencing in our five-year-old home, and are about to replace the ceiling in my daughter’s room due to leak damage. The problem seems to occur when snow sitting on top of a roofing vent begins to melt, although I cannot confirm this. I’ve contacted our insurance agent who thinks it sounds like the roof vent is the problem. He gave me the name of a local roofer who stated the same over the phone but said there is not much I can do about it. I’ve looked in the attic numerous times and have not been able to pinpoint the roof leak problem. Where do I go from here? The ceiling needs replacing but the leak has to be addressed so I don’t end up replacing it twice.

The Money Pit Answer

There is a way to correct and repair the roof leak. Leaks that form due to snowmelt are not unusual. The presence of snow on a roof can create what in effect become dams that trap water, sometimes even forcing it to run uphill and under roof shingles. Ice dams, which form at the roof edge, are the most common form of these dams but I have also seen the condition occur much higher up on roofs.
The solution to your roof leak is a roof repair where the flashing around the roof vent is replaced. This requires disassembling shingles around the area of the vent and rebuilding the roof in this area shingle by shingle. Your roofer's opinion that there's not much he can do about it is puzzling, and I can only surmise that he is not that interested in the work and putting you off.
Repairing this roof leak is totally doable; you just need to find the right roofer. During replacement, I'd encourage you to look at some of the newer, more high-tech flashing materials. For example, Grace Ice and Water Shield and Tri-Flex 30 are two products that should be under your roof shingles. These materials seal the roof's understructure and are designed to work together to prevent the very roof leak problem you are experiencing.