Wet roof boards.. Help

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Old 01-18-11, 01:46 PM
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Wet roof boards.. Help

Hello,
Went into the attic after preparing a ceiling for paint and my finger went through a spot in the drywall, and found that a very good portion of all the roof boards are wet. In one spot it is actually dripping slowly. It seems to be on one particular side of the house but the boards are wet from the peak down. Also parts of the fiber board on the side of the house is wet too. Now I just noticed this today and we are having a lot of snow melt right now. But i do not remember seeing this the last time I was in the attic in the fall. Any Thoughts??

Thanks, Nate
 
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Old 01-18-11, 02:43 PM
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Is the north side the wet side? Are the roofing nails (at the underside of the roof sheathing) rusted? If so, on the north side only?
 
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Old 01-19-11, 10:34 AM
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Yes, it is on the north side and the the nails that i have seen are a little rusty, a couple even had water on them. I should also note that the roof is old and does need replaced, and also it is not well ventilated at all in the attic. No soffit vents or roof vents.
 
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Old 01-19-11, 01:43 PM
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Sounds like you may have a warm attic and an ice pack on the roof from recent snowfalls. I know this well....

If so, what's happening is that the underside "layer" of the ice pack is melting because of the attic's warmth. But the water can't run off because it's trapped under layers of frozen ice.

The water may be backing up from the lower edge of the roof (where ice dams live) and seeping under the tar paper and shingles. Or it may be running down from higher up the roof.

BTW, I only get dripping in my attic when the outside temp. is in the 20s - too cold for the top layers of ice on the roof to melt, but warm enough for the underlayer of ice to melt from the heat of my attic. If it's in the 10s or colder, nothing melts anywhere.

Get some buckets going under the drip, and get as much ice and snow off the roof as you can. Buy a roof rake at Home Depot. Every time it snows, pull as much snow as you can off the lower edges of your roof. That will enable melting near the edges, and give water a way to run off.

You'll get a lot of advice from professionals and DIYers that the solution is to have a cold attic. They're right. But that may not be achievable in an old house, an attic with no outside vents, or an attic that, like mine, has water pipes running through it above the insulation.
 
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Old 01-19-11, 02:38 PM
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That makes perfect sense. It is warm in the attic. Im worried that the boards being wet will ruin them though. So would a new roof and a lot better ventilation help?
 
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Old 01-19-11, 03:00 PM
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I think you'll have to get some professional roofer opinions on that. If you can, dry things out and wait till spring to call roofers. By then your sense of panic and helplessness will have passed.

I'm always impressed by the ability of my roof planks, ceilings, and walls to dry out. But every house is different. My roofing planks are the originals, big 12x2 (or so) things that are 65 years old.

BTW, I had a new roof (shingles, etc. but not the underlying planks) put on about 10 years ago. The old shingles were dried up and ratty looking. But I've had more ice melt problems with the new roof than with the old one. I wonder if the contractor short-changed me on the ice underlayment material. When I called to complain, he had gone belly-up.

As for vents, yes, I imagine you want vents. But I have vents, and the ambient temp. in my attic never gets down to 32, even if it's 0 outside. Too much heat leaks up from the house.
 
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Old 01-19-11, 05:20 PM
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I see this problem to some extent at around a quarter of the homes I inspect - it can occur with or without "ice-damming".

When the problem is present only the the north side, the likely cause is direct condensation of warm moist air in the attic (ice-damming related problems are actually more likely at eaves exposed to direct sunlight and where there is a more pronounced freeze/thaw cycle).

If there is rusting of the nails well above the eaves, it's definitely at least in part a condensation problem.

The only ways to reduce condensation are to 1) reduce the interior attic temperatures by improving ventilation, attic floor insulation, or both and 2) to reduce the introduction of conditioned air into the attic).

One thing you definitely do NOT want is to have bathroom exhaust fans or dryers exhausting into the attic:



or to disconnected or damaged vent terminations:

 
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Old 01-20-11, 04:28 PM
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So im gathering that anything I do may not help. But I do plan on a new roof this spring and addinf soffit vents and ridge vent. My attic floor is very well insulated, is this something that I need? And how would I go about reducing conditioned air. I guees it was a very good idea that I removed the bathroom fan vents from going to the attic, lol.
 
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