Roofing problem - fixing leak?

Our house is about 115 years old with the original 1" x 10" roofing boards which still fit tightly together, no gaps in between them. There's one layer of asphalt shingles guaranteed for 15 years which were put on in 1990, and three sky lights. To my eyes, the shingles look to be in good shape with no surface loss or curling.
Recently a leak has developed which usually runs down the wallboard in the finished attic and dampens the top of the knee wall. During a violet rainstorm, the water will run further - down through the floor, a few feet across and through the ceiling in the room below.
We've called at lest two dozen roofers and only three have arrived. Just mentioning a leak that needs repairing is enough to have them hang up immediately. One patched it for $50 which didn't work and doesn't want to come back, but said that the shingles were in good shape. Another wanted $5000 for a completely new roof then phoned later to say that he'd reduce his price to $3500 because the shingles didn't need to be stripped. The third one said that the roof boards were "moving" and there were gaps in between - even though he couldn't actually see them and that any shingles guarantee would be void if they were placed over boards instead of plywood. He wanted $7500 to strip the roof, cover all the boards with 3/8" plywood then put on new shingles.
As far as I'm concerned, the third one is out only for our money but the problem is that my husband knows nothing about roofs and believes roofers before he believes me. This bit about the roof moving seems to me to be a load of garbage. What do you all think?
Circe
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Well....houses *do* settle and things shift. When shingles are installed properly, they're a snug fit. I suppose it's possible that the wood underneath could shift enough to open up a leak.
This is a complicated decision. First of all, is it a question of having the money, or wanting to spend it? How much longer do you intend to stay in that house? And most important, do you have any idea how much it'll cost to replace plaster or sheetrock walls, carpeting, or hardwood floors if this leak gets worse? In other words, you may be faced with spending the exact same money for interior repairs, *AND* replacing the whole roof.
If I were you, I'd pay a home inspector to look at the situation. Here (Rochester NY), a full house inspection before purchase is around $250-$300, and I once had an inspector stop by for another small issue. That visit cost $100.00. In your case, it might be worth it. If nothing else, it might eliminate any misconceptions you or your husband have. In other words, you might look like a genius and win this round. :-)
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Doug Kanter wrote: /snip/

Good suggestion, but use a ROOFING inspector, not a home inspector.
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On Wed, 05 Jan 2005 09:58:07 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@internet.look.ca scribbled this interesting note: <snip>

From where I sit, and I cannot see the roof or properly examine any of the problem areas, I'd say don't hire any of those roofing contractors. Ask around of your friends and family and neighbors. Surely someone you know knows a good roofer who will come out and fix your leak. Doing a complete tear-off, including perfectly good decking, just because of a minor leak that will be simple to fix when properly identified, is similar to removing a lung just because you have a runny nose.
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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snipped-for-privacy@internet.look.ca wrote:

Good writeup on the roofing process on a home with 1x10 planks. http://www.hammerzone.com/archives/roof/maintenance/reshingle/prep/tear_off.htm
Note that there is more to this than just nailing on new shingles. The underlayment or "dry in" is very important in insuring water tightness. You shouldn't have any problem installing the underlayment directly on the 1x10 boards - but make sure the boards are firmly nailed in place first to prvent future tearing. Ask your roofer for the cost of renailing... should it be necessary. Also consider an upgraded underlayment such as GAF's Shingle Mate http://www.gaf.com/Content/GAF/RES1/ROOF/RS_ShingleMate.html
Secondary waterproofing ("ice & water shield") is an excellent idea even if your local codes don't require it. I have even used it here in the south over all sheathing joints as additional protection from hurricanes.
Hope this helps.
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Use binoculars to inspect the roof from the ground. May be worse than you think. If you live in a sunny/hot climate the shingles usually don't last as long as they are supposed to. Especially if you have fiberglass shingles from 1990 when the technology was still getting the kinks out. Also with a finished attic the roof probably isn't getting sufficient ventilation. I would call a professional engineer to evaluate the roof and ventilation under the roof before doing anything.

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Your method of repair/replacement is governed by how long do you plan to stay in the home. You failed to mention the pitch so these are WAG's
The contractor that wants to put down the plywood might have a better guarantee. He is quoting something that he is comfortable with, a new surface that he can put the roofing on. The contractor that puts down the new roof over old may only fix the problem for a while. Skylights are noted for leaks after time. I have never seen one that did not leak. As a suggestion, there is a product called Snow Coat, (box store brand name) It can be used on shingles and will stop leaks. Your view of white streaks on your roof may tend to nix this idea. I have used the commercial variety for several years with success on slow/small leaks. These are flat roofs and not view from the ground. It is not cheap, if you do 2 coats as recommended it could cost as much as the new roof.
best of luck thank god I have tile.
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Many thanks to all of your for your excellent advice.
To fill in a few gaps, While we do have the money right now for a new roof, at this point in our lives it would hurt to spend it. A few years from now would be much better. We plan on living in this house in southern Ontario for about the next 20 years.

I agree. A visual inspection doesn't show any problems so few years from now would be much more justifiable. My personal suspicion is the skylight as one of you suggested. Seven years ago, another roofer who is no longer in business, patched a spot around the same leak and I suspect that his patch has finally died.

roof with plywood justified this partly because of gaps between the boards. Notice on this site that gaps are no problem.
Pitch of the roof is approx. 45 degrees. Area would be on top of a base 22' x 42' with a 45 degree slope at one end.
Damaged plaster/wallboard is no problem as I've redone almost all the walls and ceilings in the house, stripping them down to the old wood lathes, screwing up gypsum board and plastering the joints. While it's a nuisance to do, at least labour will be free.
Circe
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If you've mentioned how big the gaps are, I missed it, so the following may be nothing more than a typing exercise: If the gaps are a hair larger than the nails used to hold down the shingles, they are too big. Imagine an excellent pair of leather hiking boots. That's about the thickness of a shingle. Put a nail through a shingle, and if that nails hits nothing, like the gap between two boards, that shingle is at risk. You can extrapolate from there.
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snipped-for-privacy@internet.look.ca wrote:

First finding where leaking spot is often difficult task but you have to fine it. My first suspected area is around sky lights. Then do whatever is necessary. Once I had leak and real leak was several feet away from where water appeared. Good luck, Tony
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