Roof leak, or what?

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Posted by: from Edmonton
1/31/2011 at 9:01:07 PM

I replaced my roof two months ago. After a heavy snow fall, I had a flood in my guest room, which is located on the second floor.There were no water stains on the walls, or the ceiling. I ripped out the carpet for further investigation. I discovered, that the water is comming underneath the baseboards behind the vapour barier. This is an outside wall facing the south side. I opened part of the wall to find if there was sufficient insulation, and there was.Water leaked inside the wall down the plywood.There is sufficient insulation in the attic.The roofing company assure me that it is a normal accurence with that amount of snow.I removed the snow from the roof and had another leak. What is happening?

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Rod. from Artall R.M. in Toronto
Date/Time2/1/2011 at 1:43:57 AM

Hello Joanna,

Assuming the roofing contractor did his work properly, next problem creating situation could be accidentally damaged vapour barrier / insulation system (R value not sufficient!?).

Any other outside damage (like flashing) would be visible.

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Darwin from Sniper Developments in Acme
Date/Time2/1/2011 at 3:07:04 PM

Hi Joanna,

Again Assuming the roofing contractor did his job correctly the problem could also be the snow blowing up in to the soffit cavity and subsequently melting behind the insulation stops, if there is an insulation gap in that area (right at the top of the roof) if the snow was allowed to melt at this spot and the vapour barrier is not sealed properly at this point it is plausable that water could fall down between the exterior sheating and the poly vapour barrier and enter your house. Is the problem contained to one specific spot? Seeing as you seem to have somewhat of a working knowledge on the areas, I would recommend inspection of this from the attic side. The snow behind the insulation stops would not be an issue inless you were leaking heat at that point or the outside temperature was above zero, otherwise the snow would stay frozen and therefor not be able to run down the wall at the infultration point. Regardless it sounds like there is a vapour barrier sealing issue at the least.

I hope this brings another oerspective to light and hopefully assists you in solving your very frustrating problem.


Darwin Eaket

Sniper Exteriors & Renovations

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Doug Millott from jnd's Contracting in Gardiner Mines
Date/Time2/5/2011 at 8:40:05 AM


I would also look at the contractors work if your roof is a lower slope (under 3/12 ) the weight of a snow build up can cause a leak. I have seen this several times and it can be frustrating to locate if you assume the original job was done right.l

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Christien from C.R. Stone Enterprises in Bolton Est
Date/Time2/18/2011 at 3:00:28 PM

The most pressing issue should be to ensure that the insulation in the attic is not going all the way to the roof. You need the free space to make sure the soffits can ventilate with and up to the attic space, regardless of R12 or R40 value, the soffit edge will gather ice and water will back up in a hurry. You can buy special styrofoam spacer that are ribbed about 3 or 4 inches to make a sufficient gap for ventilation, then you don't have to worry about where the wall or soffit starts, you can push the insulation tight. I'm guessing you don't have alot of ventilation problem, because it doesn't sound tlike it leaked before, but the new roof more than likely hasen't had time to properly heat and seal together as the old one more than likely was from one shingle to the other. If that doesn't fix thing, you should call a different roofer. Keep in mind that if your attic and soffits are the same temperature, it can get the roof hot enough to melt the snow, and it should simply run off the eaves, as it actually does at my house, the attic is on the list this summer. Best of luck.

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