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,
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.
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
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
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.
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,
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
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)
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
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")
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.
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.
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