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Kevin
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roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:29 pm

Snow on the roof, weather warming up, water leaking into attic, which then goes right onto my bed. Here's a pic of attic leak, click for 2MB full size:

Image

I scrapped off as much snow as I could, but on the other side that wall is a gutter completely full of ice and the ice is going up the "V" (which is right above that right 2x4). You can see the ice forming on the inside and there is a steady drip of water running along that ice to the floor of the attic. I think it then goes into my bedroom though that crack.

Obviously the long term solution is fixing the roof, but is there anything I can do tonight to keep the water from going into my room? The worst thing about this is that we were trying to replace our roof a few months ago but weren't able to get the financing until after it got too cold.

Any advice for dealing with a roof guy tomorrow?
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:35 pm

So not looking forward to that side of home ownership.

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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:39 pm

If you can find a heatgun and an extention cord you can gun away the ice in the gutter and that should fix the problem for now. When you get that roof fixed be sure they make the flashing go well up the valley to prevent ice dams from causing that again.
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:39 pm

a big part of the problem is that the attic apears to be poorly insulated allowing the heat to melt the bottom layer of snow creating an ice dam, roofs are meant to deal with flowing water, when it backs up it's going to leak.
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:48 pm

What is happening (if I understand from your description and photos) is that as the snow melts, the water backs up under the ice and probably runs under a loose shingle. By freeing the gutter of ice and snow, along with all the ice in the valley (the vee you mention), you will give the water a path of lessor resistance than into your house.

Do you have access to a ladder that will get you up there? You might try to break the ice on the roof and in the gutter with a whacking tool. Be careful that the ice, as it comes loose, doesn't help you re-enact a scene from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
 
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:52 pm

Damn, it's a shame I got laid off from that roofing firm back in October otherwise I would have access to some advice...
 
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:55 pm

For tonight the best thing you can do is try and get a channel cut in the ice in the hopes that the water will run down and off the roof instead of up under the shingles and onto your bed. From what you describe it isn't so much of a roof leak as it is an ice dam thats forcing the water up under the shingles. We see that all the time around here. A heat tape in the valley would solve most of your problems until you can get the roof replaced.

When you talk to the roof guy tomorrow tell him you want at least rows of snow and ice shield on the bottom of the roof. Snow and ice shield takes the place of tar paper. It has a glue back on it and just self adheres to the roof. I think its made of butyl rubber but don't quote me on that. When you put it on the roof it closes up around the nails when the new shingles are put on and hopefully makes the last six feet of your roof water tight which is where ice dams like yours happen. If you have regular tar paper on the roof it doesn't seal up around the nails like snow and ice shield does. I don't know what your climate is like there as compared to Idaho but the freeze thaw cycles we have in Idaho make fiberglass shingles break with in just a few years of being installed. Fiberglass shingles that have a 25 year warranty might last ten years around here if you are lucky. Asphalt shingles hold up much better. As far as warranty goes in 18 years of doing construction I have never seen a single shingle replaced under warranty.
 
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:03 pm

The biggest problem is that there's no ventilation space where the roof deck and the wall meet. That traps warm attic air right under the edge of the roof, which causes ice dams, which then cause the leaks. Another missing piece is a layer of rubberized ice shield on the lower part of the roof as a layer between the roof deck and shingles.

Ideally, outside air should enter the soffits (the underside of the eave) and make its way to the peak of the roof to be exhausted. This will keep the underside of the roof deck (and the attic) at ambient temperature, which will end ice dam problems. But that's the long term fix.

Short-term fix is to clean off all of the ice on the roof, clear the gutters, find the loose shingle, and goop it up with lots of roofing tar. It won't be pretty, but it should get you to warmer times when roof repairs are much more cordial.

From a philosophical point, issues just like yours are what drive the eternal gutter/no gutter debate here in Vermont. We all like 'em in the summer when they keep the rain out of the cellar, but in the winter they're nothing but a source of ice and mayhem, not to mention all too often ripped from the roof by the ice.
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:06 pm

It looks to me like that part of the roof has been wet several times before. Is that frost on the lower-right side? Why is that there and not on the left side?
 
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:09 pm

SpotTheCat wrote:
It looks to me like that part of the roof has been wet several times before. Is that frost on the lower-right side? Why is that there and not on the left side?

Poor design, as I can't see any ventilation space there.
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:31 pm

I live in a house built in the 1940's, which is pretty common in small towns here in Idaho, especially out on a ranch house like mine. Anyway, it is built rock solid, and the builder had a good reputation back in the day. I might need to repair the foundation in 20 years or so, if the house is still here, which it should be. I just finished putting in new double-pane energy-efficient windows. It has plaster walls and ceilings and solid wood floors, which most of it has been covered in new carpet. Still working on repainting the outside, but the inside has been completely remodeled. Anyway, to the point, I just got a new metal roof installed in place of shingels, as my roof leaked before as well. I think steel is the best way to go in the winter, though I'm still waiting for the summer heat to see how energy-efficient it is. I might be running the air conditioner more. My ex-wife always complained about the energy bill last summer, this coming summer it may be pretty expensive from running the A/C non-stop. Idaho has really cold winters and fairly hot summers, so you either compromise, or go with a solution that works in the winter and not the summer or vice-verse. This winter I use mainly wood and coal heat. I do have in-wall 240-volt electric heaters in the bedrooms, but I never use them as I choose to sleep outside on the couch since my divorce. This summer when I have custody of my daughter I may need to install an air-conditioner in her room as well as mine. I can't remember if you said the leak was from rain or melting snow, but if from snow, I would (very carefully) get up on the roof and shovel the snow off. Keep it clean until a new roof can be installed. With my metal roof, I hear big thuds outside sometime, and it startled me the first time until I remembered it was big slabs of snow falling off.
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:55 pm

jss21382 wrote:
a big part of the problem is that the attic apears to be poorly insulated allowing the heat to melt the bottom layer of snow creating an ice dam, roofs are meant to deal with flowing water, when it backs up it's going to leak.

Yeah, there's no insulation on the attic floor in that corner or along the walls that face the upstairs. I'll have to put that on my things to do list (or maybe things to pay other people to do, I hate fiberglass insulation).

henry44 wrote:
Do you have access to a ladder that will get you up there? You might try to break the ice on the roof and in the gutter with a whacking tool. Be careful that the ice, as it comes loose, doesn't help you re-enact a scene from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Hance wrote:
For tonight the best thing you can do is try and get a channel cut in the ice in the hopes that the water will run down and off the roof instead of up under the shingles and onto your bed.

Yeah, I was on the ladder with the scrapper getting the snow off a few hours ago. It seems to have helped as there are no more droplets of water forming on my bedroom ceiling.

Captain Ned wrote:
SpotTheCat wrote:
It looks to me like that part of the roof has been wet several times before. Is that frost on the lower-right side? Why is that there and not on the left side?

Poor design, as I can't see any ventilation space there.

There's ventilation space to the left of the leak, but not to the right. It's due to the shape of roof. I don't have a picture of that side, but you can see the opposite corner here:

Image

You can see where there are only gutters along small portions of the roof edge. There are vents underneath the gutters (on the back of the house there are also square vents on the walls). But on the other side of the valley (where the frost is forming) there is no vent.
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:00 pm

Kevin wrote:
But on the other side of the valley (where the frost is forming) there is no vent.

We have our winner. That section needs to be vented, and the valleys need to be underlaid with WR Grace Ice & Water Shield or a reasonable facsimile.

Rule #1 of roofs in the Snow Belt is that the roof deck should always be at outside ambient air temperature. Unless outside air is allowed to circulate through the attic, that won't happen. It's made even more difficult in a house like yours where the attic appears to be living space.
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:04 pm

Bit late for tonight, but you might be able to get some heating cables that you can zig-zag through the area where the ice dam forms. That will cut channels through the ice dam and stop the water building up.
 
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:09 pm

notfred wrote:
Bit late for tonight, but you might be able to get some heating cables that you can zig-zag through the area where the ice dam forms. That will cut channels through the ice dam and stop the water building up.

Fix the cause and there's no need to fix the symptoms. Heat cables (IMO) should only be considered a temporary fix until the underlying issue is corrected.
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:12 pm

Totally agree on that, roof needs to be at ambient by being well insulated and ventilated. Cables might last Kevin this winter until he gets the financing together for the proper job.
 
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:15 pm

He should totally hire a crew of gnomes to make a bucket brigade for hauling excess water and ice out of the attic. :D
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:16 pm

Yep. Classic ice dam. Just do a search on "ice dam" and you will find a million solutions. For now you need to get an axe and get rid of that ice as it's blocking water from escaping to any other place but your attic. You have to keep the gutters clear of not only ice but any crap in there that is preventing water from moving.

My old house used to get this on a section that had poor insulation so the snow would melt and form a giant ice block and then the leaking would start.
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:16 pm

Kevin wrote:
jss21382 wrote:
a big part of the problem is that the attic apears to be poorly insulated allowing the heat to melt the bottom layer of snow creating an ice dam, roofs are meant to deal with flowing water, when it backs up it's going to leak.

Yeah, there's no insulation on the attic floor in that corner or along the walls that face the upstairs. I'll have to put that on my things to do list (or maybe things to pay other people to do, I hate fiberglass insulation).

I see flooring in that picture, does your whole attic have a floor? If it does you can just glue down 2" foam board. If you have rafters you should suck it up and lay out some thick fiberglass. Do it this weekend if you can afford it, it make your house more comfortable, too.
 
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:25 pm

It's not lack of insulation. It's lack of outside airflow through the roof structure. If this is occurring in a section of attic that's been converted into habitable space, though, the insulation job gets much tougher, as the roof deck itself will need to be insulated against the bleed of heat out from the room, while at the same time air ducts will need to be installed between the rafters and leading down into the soffits to allow outside air to circulate under the roof deck.

Maybe there's a reason most VT homes don't have finished (or finishable) attics.
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:29 pm

Could you throw salt up on the ice dam for now to try to melt it off for now or would that cause more problems?
 
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:38 pm

tfp wrote:
Could you throw salt up on the ice dam for now to try to melt it off for now or would that cause more problems?

Many ice dams are several inches thick and salt won't do much to clear it.

Captain Ned wrote:
It's not lack of insulation.

Well many ice damns are a lack of insulation. It certainly could not hurt to get more up there.
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:54 pm

PRIME1 wrote:
Well many ice damns are a lack of insulation. It certainly could not hurt to get more up there.

In the attic floor, yes, assuming vent passages from the soffits are not compromised. The roof deck should not be considered the first line of insulation defense; that role falls to the attic floor and the (VT-standard) 18" or more of Pink Panther laid out in two opposing layers.
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:10 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
PRIME1 wrote:
Well many ice damns are a lack of insulation. It certainly could not hurt to get more up there.

In the attic floor, yes, assuming vent passages from the soffits are not compromised. The roof deck should not be considered the first line of insulation defense; that role falls to the attic floor and the (VT-standard) 18" or more of Pink Panther laid out in two opposing layers.

That is what I am suggesting insulating. If his attic has a floor (so he can use the attic for storage) he can use the pink foam core insulation on top and seal the boards together, meaning leaks won't land on his bed. You do bring up a good point on the vents though, when you buy the insulation it says that on the packaging.
 
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:20 pm

SpotTheCat wrote:
Captain Ned wrote:
PRIME1 wrote:
Well many ice damns are a lack of insulation. It certainly could not hurt to get more up there.

In the attic floor, yes, assuming vent passages from the soffits are not compromised. The roof deck should not be considered the first line of insulation defense; that role falls to the attic floor and the (VT-standard) 18" or more of Pink Panther laid out in two opposing layers.

That is what I am suggesting insulating. If his attic has a floor (so he can use the attic for storage) he can use the pink foam core insulation on top and seal the boards together, meaning leaks won't land on his bed. You do bring up a good point on the vents though, when you buy the insulation it says that on the packaging.

I agree with all of this. Although the first task is complete and utter destruction of the ice dam.
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:22 pm

SpotTheCat wrote:
You do bring up a good point on the vents though, when you buy the insulation it says that on the packaging.

Since no insulation is perfect a heavily-insulated, yet unvented, attic will still stay warmer than the outside, which will then create ice dams.

Attic space should be considered as the transition zone between the fully-insulated envelope of the house below (the double-wad of Pink Panther on the attic floor) and the outside. Attics (well, uninhabitable ones) are not supposed to be heated, nor should they be anything but at outside ambient temperature at all times. Roofs ice dam because of unwanted heat in the attic space. The $64M question is the source of the heat. At least here in VT, 99.99% of the time it's because the roof isn't properly vented. Hell, with proper venting the roof would stay cold even if there wasn't any insulation in the attic floor.

Outside air must be introduced into the attic space, allowed to flow under the roof deck, and be vented as far up on the roof as possible.
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Wed Jan 21, 2009 12:43 pm

There was a heater cable up in that gutter that I had forgotten about, so I plugged that in last night and this morning I was able to go up and break up the ice dam and clear out most of the gutter. The leaking into the house had stopped last night before going to bed.

I'll try to get some more pictures up of that attic space tonight. Here is a picture that I took last night of the ice dam (big pic warning).
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Captain Ned
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Wed Jan 21, 2009 12:59 pm

That picture quite aptly demonstrates the issues with gutters in the Snow Belt. Many a VT home does not have gutters for this very reason.
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Wed Jan 21, 2009 1:01 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
That picture quite aptly demonstrates the issues with gutters in the Snow Belt. Many a VT home does not have gutters for this very reason.

The houses of that period around here that do not have gutters have wet basements. Pick your poison I guess.
 
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Re: roof leaking, could use some advice

Wed Jan 21, 2009 4:31 pm

I'll agree with ned on the ventilation point, though with a well insulated ceiling/attic floor it shouldn't take that much ventilation to maintain below freezing temps in the attic, though as it looks to be a semi-finished attic it's going to be rough to insulate that well.

I know in canada they use a fair amount of spray foam for insulation, great r value and all that but, how does that work from the ventilation perspective? If's it's sprayed directly on the sheathing does it not need to be ventilated? I know when I built the addition on my parents house they had cathedral ceilings so we had to use these foam vent pieces that looked like corrugated steel...only foam to allow ventilation from the soffit to the eve vents between the fiberglass and the sheathing.
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