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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Default Leaking Roof - Help!

    In May I noticed a crack and water stain on the first floor dining room ceiling of my 1 1/2 story Cape Cod style home. The leak seems to be located right where the upper floor dormer joins the roofline. There is no damage on the 2nd floor and I suspect the leak is somewhere around the dormer area. Since May, I have been calling roofers to come out to see if they could find the leak and fix it. 95% of the people I called never returned the call or come out. Only 3 of about a dozen contractors came out. The first one said that the shingles on the dormer were lined up in a row, creating an area where water came in. His solution was to re-shingle the dormer at a cost of $650. I agreed without hesitation and he said he would call me the next day to tell me when he would come out. That was 2 weeks ago and no phone call from him. Another contractor didn't climb on the roof, but said that the dormer's flashing was leaking and he would email me the next day with a written estimate. That was a week ago and I never heard from him again. A third contractor came out and told me to caulk around the dormer and window area and that should resolve the leak. I did that and yet still, when it rains very heavily and is windy, rain comes in (it doesn't leak when there is a light rain.) I called him back and told him the caulking didn't resolve the matter and he said he would call me the next day. But alas, no call or visit from him either.

    I am getting very frustrated as I can't seem to get anyone to come out to find and fix the leak. I even went so far as to contact a big box retailer's website and asked for a free estimate for a new roof. I got an email back saying they would contact me within 24 hours. That was 3 days ago and still no phone call or contact from this big box retailer.

    The roof is about 12 years old and I live in Pennsylvania. I am at a loss what to do. Soon it will be winter and this matter won't get resolved till spring (maybe?). What is the issue with getting contractors to come out and do work? Is this too small a project? None of the 3 contractors that actually showed even tried to talk me into a new roof for the house, so I know the size of the project shouldn't be an issue. Don't they want to be involved with repairs? I can't understand it but am getting so frustrated in calling roofers and contractors and leaving messages but not getting any further.

    I would be happy if I could at least narrow down where the leak is. Since it doesn't happen during every rainstorm and only occurs when it rains very strongly, I'm really at a loss.

    Can anyone suggest anything to resolve my dilemma in finding the leak as well as fixing it? I'm not a very agile person, so I'm not really thrilled about doing this work myself on a sloped roof like this. I'd really prefer to have a contractor come out, but I guess all of the contractors in Pittsburgh just don't need the work.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    SoCal
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    Default Re: Leaking Roof - Help!

    You better resolve your leaking issue sooner than later!

    Let me guess here: job too small. Let's take the first roofer. At $650 and with only 50-50 chance to resolve the leak, he would be losing money if you called him back. Besides, he won't give you any warranties.

    These roofers want complete roofing jobs, where they can make real money. I bet you'll get many more positive responses if you asked for whole roof estimates. Remember, summer and fall are their busiest periods and they could be super busy to find the time for advice and free estimates.

    What to do in the mean time? keep calling other roofers. Saying "I'm tired of calling" is not an answer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    5

    Default Re: Leaking Roof - Help!

    I'm guessing that you hit the nail on the head -- not enough profit to make. But in the meantime, months are ticking by without any roofers agreeing to accept the job.

    So - here's another question that I'm sure will get some laughs, but I'll try anyway. What about if I go up on the dormer and spray around the flashing and shingles with that "as seen on TV" clear flexible sealer? It has a lot of positive reviews for working well on roofs. Just wondered if this could be an option to at least get me through the winter months. Any comments?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Leaking Roof - Help!

    Usually "as seen on TV" products are flight by night products: the marketer makes his million, and the products disappear.

    You don't see HENRY TAR advertising on TV, do you?

    A tight roof has solid tar paper (felt) under the shingles (or tiles). To do the job right, you need to remove some shingles in order to re-do the paper. It's the tar paper that stops the water, when the shingles don't. Add to it the fact that the suspected leak is around the dormer - a job for a roofer.

    Call the first roofer - the only one who bothered climbing on top of the roof - and offer him an incentive, like "money for travel time" or "fuel"...you'll be surprised when he says OK.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Houston Texas
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    Default Re: Leaking Roof - Help!

    Throw in a nice lunch, or a beer if its after work.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Houston, TX
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    Default Re: Leaking Roof - Help!

    This sounds like my old house in Pittsburgh . . . I really hope it isn't my old house in Pittsburgh.
    It was the rear dormer with an almost flat roof on a 50's cape cod.
    In heavy rains water would come down the cast iron vent all the way to the basement.

    Replace the rubber boot on the roof? Check
    Check condition of all shingles on the dormer? Check
    Caulk the carp out of the windows and any crack? Check
    Check every inch of siding and rood all the way down to lower roof? Check
    Check for issues with "lower" roof and flashing? Check

    Never did solve the issue, I moved first. Felt bad about it, but the wife an I had new jobs. Later paid 3x as much to buy a house with leaking windows.
    It's this old house, not this built after your dad was born house.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Leaking Roof - Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by function View Post
    This sounds like my old house in Pittsburgh . . . I really hope it isn't my old house in Pittsburgh.
    It was the rear dormer with an almost flat roof on a 50's cape cod.
    In heavy rains water would come down the cast iron vent all the way to the basement.

    Replace the rubber boot on the roof? Check
    Check condition of all shingles on the dormer? Check
    Caulk the carp out of the windows and any crack? Check
    Check every inch of siding and rood all the way down to lower roof? Check
    Check for issues with "lower" roof and flashing? Check

    Never did solve the issue, I moved first. Felt bad about it, but the wife an I had new jobs. Later paid 3x as much to buy a house with leaking windows.

    Wouldn't it be something if this were the same house???

    There are ways to find out. Address and photos are two of those ways.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    2,194

    Default Re: Leaking Roof - Help!

    Function, some questions are better un-asked! We'd hate to see your reputation take a hit like that, but I think we've all had a failed situation or two in our past- we're human and it happens! Mine was a very old slate roof with copper flashing and valley leaks. I could never find the source but the homeowners didn't mind emptying a bucked placed to catch it every couple months as opposed to having the area re-slated with the likelihood of slate breakage and the expense doing it right would take.

    Yup, it's roofing season so every roofer is wide-open right now getting all they can done while the weather is on their side. They're all booked solid, but somebody can add you in the schedule I'm sure. With the shingles properly laid and with it all flashed correctly, no water should be getting through to the roofing felt underneath. Someone might be able to find and fix the problem without having to take the shingles off and re-paper but that would be the best method. I'd say to call the roofer who did the last job back- he's more likely to show up since it's his roof and reputation on the line, but if he didn't get the roofing felt right which is an easy job, I am not sure I'd want him back. Look for roofers doing work nearby, then stop and ask if they could drop by to have a look when they are done- since you're close they can do that easily. And call every roofer you can, not just a few- what you want is several opinions and several quotes.

    Persistence pays off

    Phil

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    5

    Default Re: Leaking Roof - Help!

    OK - this is getting really weird. I do live in Pittsburgh! But the previous owner of my house passed away years ago and was the only owner, having built the house. But I seem to have your issue. What part of Pittsburgh was your home in?

    So I called at least 8 more roofers - finally decided to call the big box retailers for prices. Here's where I'm at:

    Still have the leak coming in when it rains heavy (from the west/southwestern side of the roof where the dormer faces). I also want to mention that even though this roof is only 12 years old (approx.) a portion of the rear roof on the eastern facing side has some "cupping" up of shingles. There was also a bit of "play" in the solidity of the roof when walking in a few spots. Nothing to fall through -- just a little more "bounce" than the other portions of the roof. Since this part of the roof faces east (away from our weather) and isn't causing any leaks, I really didn't mention it earlier. But now I think it's worth considering in the overall picture as to whether finding and fixing the leak is smart to try or total roof replacement.

    So far, with about 2 dozen calls to roofers down, nobody has actually agreed to find and fix the leak other than 2 roofs (and they couldn't guarantee the work either). One quoted $650 to fix the flashing and repair 4" of shingle around the dormer using extra shingles I have. The second quoted me $3800 to fix that entire portion of the roof where the dormer is. To replace the whole roof he quoted $13,000 for asphalt shingles.

    The big box retailer just left and quoted me $7900 for a completely new roof using dimensional asphalt shingles. I would have a 50 year shingle with guarantee that is transferable if I sold the house. He said that he was fairly certain that a new roof would resolve the leak issue, but I'm still concerned if the water might be coming through the bricks on the side of the house, dormer siding, or dormer window. None of these 3 areas look to have any obvious holes or cracks and seem to be sealed tightly.

    I'm not made of money, so to spend $7900 for a new roof is a big deal for me. I just dread spending it only to find out after the next storm, the water is still leaking in.

    By the way, calling the original roof installer from 12 years ago is out of the question as he's no longer in the business (retired).

    Under the circumstances, if I were you, what would you do? I'm running out of time, given the lateness of the season and need to resolve this before Pittsburgh's winter gets here. Any ideas, suggestions, comments, words of wisdom, etc.?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    SoCal
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    Default Re: Leaking Roof - Help!

    It looks like you've made some progress.

    1. The "bouncing" is something you will have to address once the old roof is removed (assuming that you want to replace the whole roof - which is BTW what I would do).

    You could have some water damage to the deck and/or the rafters. If that's the case, you will have to repair it before installing a new roof (more money...).

    2. When you ask a big box store for an estimate, it acts like a general contractor and sends you a sub-contractor for the estimate. As long as you know that fact, you know you don't get a top notch roofer. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean that the job will necessarily be inferior. Just ask the roofer to pay attention to the leaky spot, so that it won't leak again.

    3. That 50 yr shingle is a pretty damn good product. I hope it's laid down correctly, so that you will have some peace and quiet this coming winter.

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