Persistent roof leak

The briefest version of the problem is this: We've had damp wallboard in the bathroom (part of the master bedroom addition) since we bought the house two years ago. The guy we bought the house from was a builder of some sort (not a good sort, evidently) and put the addition on himself, the summer we bought the house. Repair guy 1 said the dampness was from an ice dam, he replaced the wallboard. It got wet again. Roofer two said that it was either seepage from the fan vent (which he repaired) or water coming from the old roof section on the second floor, running under the roof of the addition. So we put on another roof over the second floor - again, a reasonable suggestion, because that roof was getting really old. He also replaced the wallboard. It took a few more months to get damp, but it got wet again. We called Roofer 2 back, and he suggested we re-flash the addition, since we've had other problems with leaking around the addition's flashing. So we did that. The wallboard not only didn't dry out, it completely fell in. (That was the short version. The long version is the same, but with a lot of swearing.)
Ok, so it's been raining for about three days. My husband and I pulled down all of the wallboard in the bathroom, pulled out the insulation, and now we're looking directly at the underside of the 1.5 year old roof. I'm seeing wet wood (the flat sheets of roofing wood are wet - the stuff that looks like particleboard, but isn't), lots of water dripping through nail holes, and something that looks like a purple plastic 6 inch by 24 inch thing, nailed to the underside of the roof. Water is dripping out of that, too.
What the hell am I looking at? What is the plastic thing? Why is it there? Why is water coming through nail holes, if the wood has new asphalt shingles and new flashing?
Advice, please? We've already spent a fortune not repairing this problem. Before I call another roofer, I want to be able to be sure that this is the LAST time I'll be replacing the damned wallboard.
Thanks.
Donna
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Donna wrote: We've had damp wallboard in

You are looking at a roof that is leaking. It sounds like a major bummer. Also sound like crappy repairs (purple tarp!!) were done before the house was sold. You may have an issue with the sellers in such a case.

OK, here goes. Your roof is leaking and something must be done immediatly. When your roof deck and wall board is getting wet you have an emergency situation. Your wall board is easy to replace compared to that roof deck that is getting soaked! It was hard to tell from your post but it sounds like you put another layer of shingles over an old layer. It is a practice which is rarely recomnmended and some just won't do it. Best guess it that it is where the addition meets the rest where the water is entering the other. Your roofer was right to suggest that you re-flash since this is your most economical choice.
However, not only your wall board is getting soaked but also the roof deck. Best choice it to start from scratch and tear off every bit of the old roof including the recent repairs. It is the only way to really see the roof and to get it completely dry and sound. I know you can't afford it but that is my opinion. If your want to be truly sure to never have the leak again then this is what you will have to do. Most homeowners will take out a loan rather than take a chance on getting their house ruined.
In, the meantime you should cover this area wher the addition meets the rest with a tarp all the way to and over the ridge. If that stops the leak then you can be fairly sure that the problem is there. If the area that was re-roofed is determined to be the problem then you may have an issue with the contractor who did that. I would get an estimate for this re-flash job for decision making purposes. It is probably worth a try, regardless. Do not use anyone who would put new shingle over old. Do use the roofer who is giving you the good advice of re-flashing.

Lawrence
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Probably we don't have an issue with the sellers after this long, but thanks for confirming that I'm not crazy. I thought it looked like a hard plastic tarp/temporary repair thingie, too.

Roof deck = the wood that the shingles are attached to, right?

Sorry, I wasn't clear. The shingles are the same age as the roof -- 18 to 24 months old. So old shingles weren't put over new shingles, rather, the shingles are new because the roof is new.

You got it. That's exactly where it's leaking.
<snip advice to replace roof, if possible, but at the very least to get a tarp over the leak asap>
Thanks. I appreciate your advice.
Donna
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Donna wrote:

Right, this wood (or plywood) is getting just as wet as the wallboard except that it is far more diffiicult to inspect or repair. Water could also be dripping off of the bottom of the deck and the nails along the way getting your attic isulation wet as well. Some attempt could be made to dry out the roof deck from underneath by ventilating the attic with the use of a fan(s). Can you get up into the attic? If so, you might be able to point a fan at the wet spots or put a fan into a gable vent to pull dry air through the attic.

asphalt shingles to waterproof the roof deck? Why is water pouring down the nail holes, if the roof shingles are new, and intact?
Because the water is entering underneath the shingles where the addition starts. It then can travel downhill underneath the shingles. Even though the shingles may appear to be dry from above the water is travelling underneath . It will then soak the deck and find ways to continue downhill presumably through the nail holes and off of the nails themself. Ultimately it travels to the edge of the house where it finally ruined your wall board and got noticed. Your roof deck has been getting wet all along but you just never noticed it until it rained a lot and reached the wall.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Donna wrote:

Hi, Priority one, cover the roof with tarp or ssosmething to prevent water leak. And find the origin of leak. Sounds like you have not pinpointed it. Once done rest is easy. Water seepage spreading all over the place it is kinda detective work. Best of luck,
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks. Quick follow up question, in case you know... isn't the point of asphalt shingles to waterproof the roof deck? Why is water pouring down the nail holes, if the roof shingles are new, and intact? I've had two different roofers up there over the last two years, and I was just up there myself, and the shingles, indeed the roof itself, directly over the leak, is immaculate. (That's why I thought that re-flashing would have solved the problem.)
Thanks again.
Donna
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I know this isn't fun.
If you want to do your own diagnostics, here is how I would proceed. Wait until everything is basically dry. Do not cover up your view of the bottom of the roof. Use a garden hose and rig up some way to control where it is directing water. Start below your apparent leak. Allow water to run for 30 minutes at each set. Do not force water up under the shingles, let it flood downward just as rain water would. Gradually move the water hose up hill. Monitor the ceiling you have open. When the roof begins to leak you know exactly what is allowing the water in.
I do not recognize your description of a purple plastic strip. ______________________________ Keep the whole world singing . . . . DanG (remove the sevens) snipped-for-privacy@7cox.net

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Ok, thanks for the advice, Dan. We'll do that. I really appreciate the detailed instructions. To say that I'm in a little bit over my head with this problem is a bit of an understatement. As someone else just posted, there is no point in calling in another roofer to guess at the problem: I really have to figure out what the problem is before I call in the pros to fix it.
Honestly, I saw that purple plastic sheet, and I had this sinking feeling. What the hell was the original homeowner thinking? (Ok, other than "Gee, I better sell this house before becomes obvious that I tacked on the addition in a weekend")
Thanks again.
Donna
Donna
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Can't see from here, but my hunch is that roofer 2 was on the right track- if water is under the shingles, it is likely coming in at ridge, or at a gable end, or (most likely) from where it meets the original house. The flashing that was replaced- does it run up under siding of the second floor, by any chance? I have seen a wet upper wall feed water under flashing into a lower level roof. If upper wall was wet, but on the outside of the sheathing under the siding, that could be the water source. Even if upper roof was replaced, mis-installed siding, or a badly-flashed window, can get water behind the siding.
That 6x24 plastic thing sounds like some sort of spacer to keep soffit vents open when insulation is blown in, or batts are rolled out. Never seen them in purple, but I have seen pink and blue ones.
Can you post pics to a web site or binaries group? A picture is truly worth a thousand words for stuff like this. An establishing shot of that end of house, a picture of the new flashing, and a picture of the leaky inside of the roof. And like Arlo Guthrie taught us, circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, explaining what is going on.
aem sends...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Donna wrote:

Hi, Donna.
Invest much more wisely. Contract with someone to solve the source of the problem- not hack at what seems to be the likely source. Payment is to seek out all sources of water infiltration & seal them to adequately protect all materials of and in house. In accordance with local & national building codes. Payment is contingent on completion of work- you might say on passing test of major storm, or some garden-hose test.
Of course, DO NOT close up interior walls until infiltration is properly done with, and all lumber has dried out for some time. Chill out on the wallboard. In fact, in general.
You could try your hand doing something useful. Much more fun than cussing, and MUCH more attractive.
J
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Hmmm. That hadn't occurred to me. Is that even possible?

Good advice. Thanks. :)
Donna
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.