Frustrating Roof Leak

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Old 07-15-13, 06:41 PM
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Frustrating Roof Leak

About two weeks ago my wife noticed some water leaking down through the bathroom ceiling onto the floor. The ceiling is made of wood planks with small gaps between each one.

My first thought was that our roof was leaking. I'm incredibly careful so I went to my local home improvement store to pick up one of those buckets with an anchor, harness, etc. While I was there I had a change of heart. I didn't want to buy all that stuff, get on the top of my roof, and then not be able to find the source of the leak. I put the stuff back on the shelf and called a local handyman.

He came out later that afternoon, sort of looked at the leak through the heat vent that I had removed, and climbed up on top of the roof (with zero safety equipment I might add). He decided the culprit was a few holes where the satellite dish was added (previous owner). He caulked those up and made sure everything else was sealed up as well. Cost, $200.

I figured it would take a few days for the leak to finally drain itself out. I waited a few days, saw no improvement, so I called him back. He prided himself in guaranteeing his work, so he came out, added some more caulk, and left without charging me anything.

Fast forward about 4-5 days, there isn't a leak per say, but the beam where I noticed the leak is still seeping water. Its no longer leaking onto the floor, but when you put your hand up to it you can feel it misting (for lack of a better word).

I called him again this evening and he seemed shocked that it was still leaking. Said it could be any number of things such as the condensation line from the furnace. He said if he comes out and the leak is from anywhere other than the holes he sealed up, he'd have to charge me. I quite simply can't afford that.

I don't believe the leak is caused by a pipe. There are a few pipes in the area, but the roof ABOVE the pipes are wet. I climbed back into the attic today and took some pictures and was hoping that some of you might be able to help me. I'm at my wits end.

My theories:

1) Originally I thought the leak was coming from something attached to the roof, seeping through the shingles/tar/etc between two pieces of plywood and finally through the beam.

2) Its just condensation from the bathroom. Though its only concentrated in one area, not above the shower.

3) The house is on stilts because its on the side of a hill. There is no deck or usable back yard, so there is no gutter on the roof. Rain just rolls off the end. Maybe some of it leaks down off the last shingle, but somehow ends up going into the roof structure itself, pooling, and finally seeping through into the attic.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I'd really like to be able to take care of this myself to save some money. If I have to, I don't mind paying a professional to come fix it, but it will be a different company because this guy didn't even want to climb into the attic to get a good look at what was going on. There would be a lot more weight behind his "guaranteeing my work" if he actually looked for the root cause vs. jumping on the most plausible explanation and going from there.

Many thanks in advance for your help. As someone who has to leave his house for 3-4 days at a time, this has been rather nerve racking. Can't wait to finally tackle it.

Here are the pictures:


Untitled by screaming_emu, on Flickr


Untitled by screaming_emu, on Flickr


Untitled by screaming_emu, on Flickr

Seeing as that last picture isn't showing up, here's a link to the photo set. Roof Leak - a set on Flickr
 
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Old 07-15-13, 08:00 PM
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Need pictures of the roof outside not inside.
No close ups needed.
Next time your in the attic look up where the vent goes through the roof and see if you can see light.
Often time the rubber seal rots out around the pipe on the roof.
Super simple fix, they have a rubber ring that just slips right over the pipe on the outside, no tools needed.
 
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Old 07-15-13, 08:59 PM
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I appreciate the response. Getting a picture of the top of the roof is challenging because of the slope of my yard. The best i can do without getting up there myself, is probably standing on a chair on my balcony which I'll try to do myself.

Normally I wouldn't mind getting up on the roof, in fact I'd really like to, but its a fairly steep roof and because of the slope of the yard its about a 3 story fall if I screw it up.

I'll also go into the attic tomorrow, turn off the lights, and see if I can see any light coming through from any of the vents. That never would have occurred to me.

I also have another theory. Because of the location of the furnace in the attic, I removed the heater duct from the vent opening to inspect the area close up. Maybe the handyman did in fact fix the roof leak, but moisture from the bathroom has been getting up and making it difficult for it to dry out. I'm probably grasping at straws, but I sealed that up again and will check for a difference tomorrow.

Thanks again for responding, I'll try to post more helpful pictures tomorrow.
 
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Old 07-15-13, 09:06 PM
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Is there an air exchanger up in the attic. Has anyone checked to see if it's drain is plugged up?
Unless it's been raining non stop there no reason for a leak to continue.
 
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Old 07-15-13, 09:26 PM
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Just a propane powered furnace. When talking to the handyman on the phone today he mentioned something about a condensation drain on that thing. So far this summer the pilot light has been lit, but just for the sake of trying everything I can, cut the gas to the furnace today.
 
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Old 07-15-13, 10:27 PM
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You say that "water is leaking down through the bathroom ceiling".

My question is, does it only leak when it's raining out? (I don't think you specifically stated that, and it makes a big difference).

We can see from your pictures that the rafter tail is wet at the bottom, where water has been collecting. But water can run down a rafter a long ways from where it is leaking before it shows up there. So it would also help if you were able to go into the attic and identify exactly where along the rafter it starts to get wet.

There is a gap under the rafter where I can see light. Next time you go in the attic, take something long like a straightened out wire coat hanger, and stick it out that hole so that once you go outside, you can identify exactly where that rafter is.
 
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