Last month, I walked into our mud room and found a puddle of water on the floor. At first, I thought that our dog, Whiskey, had an accident. I do not know why I thought that. She is a good dog and rarely has an accident. Blaming our pets is just my knee-jerk reaction when I see a mess. When cleaning it up, I found that it was not that. Let’s just say it didn’t pass the smell test.
It was water. The puddle was next to a case of water bottles. So, my second thought is that perhaps one of the bottles sprung a leak. However, they were all full and dry. There is no plumbing in this room. The ceiling was dry, with no evidence of water intrusion. This had never happened before. I could not figure out where the water had come from. It was a mystery.
Flash forward a couple of weeks. It was a rainy day. I went into the mud room to find a puddle again, in the exact same place. This time, I saw water dripping from a canned ceiling light. Now I knew where the water was coming from. Was this a case of bad shingles?
About eight years earlier, my wife and I had extended our garage and added this mud room. The roof over this portion of our home was new at the time of the remodel. So, the roof is eight years old, which is not new, but certainly not old, by roof standards.
I checked the roof from the outside. There were no missing shingles. The gutter and flashing all appeared to be intact. I was at a complete loss as to how water was getting in.
HOW WATER TRAVELS
Water usually finds the path of least resistance. Sometimes, water can travel along surfaces, as gravity pulls it downward. It can enter into the smallest areas. A single missing shingle or nail hole in the roof, can be enough of a space for water to enter through. When water enters an area, it can continue to travel downwards, on different surfaces, until it meets a surface that stops it. In this case, it was our laminate flooring. If our flooring had been porous, the water would have continued through the floor to the crawl space.
Because of the way water travels, if you see a spot in your ceiling, or other area in which there is water intrusion, that does not always mean that the leak is directly over that area. What about in my situation? Before finding out, enjoy this little video that shows a cool experiment using water!
INVESTIGATING WHAT WAS HAPPENING
Back to our story. I climbed into our attic, while it was still raining, to investigate further. I traced the water intrusion to an area that I had not anticipated. The water appeared to be entering in at the gutter level. So I had to put my mind in the gutter, and figure out where I would go, if I were water in the gutter.
The gutters were also eight years old and were in decent condition. In the eight years since we had completed the remodel, we have never had any water intrusion problems. Even when the gutters had become clogged at times. I took out the ladder to get a closer look.
The first thing I noticed is that the gutters were clogged. There were some twigs that had stopped up the downspout, so that when there was a heavy rain, the gutters over-flowed. However, that was not the problem, since it was the lower gutter that was clogged. The water was coming from the upper gutter.
I had to figure out why water was moving towards the house instead of over the top of the gutter. In this part of our roof, there are two gutters. (See picture) Where upper gutter exists, I saw a small piece of ice shielding at the lower end of the gutter, that had started to gap open slightly. It was strange the way the roofers folded the ice shield in this area.
Ice shielding, or ice guard, is simply a layer of bitumen (sometimes other materials) that is rolled out at the base of the roof line, under the shingles, part of the way up the roof. It is used to prevent water intrusion that can occur when water freezes and thaws repeatedly, causing ice dams to form. Then, when it rains, or snow and ice thaws, the dams can cause water to back up under the shingles. The ice shield prevents that water from entering under the home.
Here is a little video to show you how ice guard is installed.
On our roof, part of the ice guard was folded over at the end of the gutter. Over the years, a gap formed in the area where it was folded at the end of the upper gutter. During heavy rains, the water would partially flow behind the ice shield, where it gapped. Then it traveled down the back side of the ceiling until the water dripped through the ceiling light, and onto the floor. Once I sealed that gap in the ice guard, the water problem was resolved. Whew!
This situation illustrates how water intrusion problems are not always as straight forward as they appear. I had assumed the roof had a leak, when in reality, it was a simple fix, that had nothing to do with the shingles.
This is one of the reasons why, when an appraiser sees evidence of water intrusion on the ceiling or walls, we will call for a qualified professional to examine the roof, and other parts of the structure, to determine where the leak is coming from. The problem may be cut and dry. But, but not necessarily.
SIGNS OF A ROOF LEAK OR POTENTIAL LEAK
What do appraisers look for when it comes to potential roof leaks? In each room, we look for staining on the ceilings or walls. This could be evidence of water intrusion. There are times when the leak has been corrected, but the water damage to the dry wall or plaster was never repaired. Be ready to explain that to the appraiser. The appraiser may still call for a roof certification, to ensure that the roof is not leaking. Especially if they feel like there is still an issue.
Mold-like growth on ceilings, walls or in the attic, is also a sign of water intrusion. Mold needs a fair amount of water to grow, which can be the result of a leaking roof. Roofs with very thick algae growth can also cause problems. If the algae growth is so bad that you can’t see the shingles anymore, that can be problematic.
Chances are, when it rains, water is not flowing down the roof like it should. In such a situation, an appraiser may call for a roof certification to determine if the roof is functioning properly, or if repairs are needed.
Missing shingles can lead to water intrusion. A single missing shingle does not always cause a roof to leak. However, most appraisers are going to call for missing shingles to be repaired. After all, water may be coming into an area of the home that is not easily seen. Damage may be happening without the homeowner even realizing it.
When your roof is toast, it’s never fun. Unless your roof is really made of toast!
The main point to take away from this article is that leaking roofs can be a little tricky to figure out. Sometimes, like it my situation, what appeared to be leaking shingles, turned out to be something completely different.
Well, that’s a wrap for this article. I hope you found it interesting and even a little suspenseful. To end this article, I thought I would share a video of the way I would like to roll one day. (Thanks to my brother-in-law, Rob, for sharing this video with me. He knows I love this kind of thing)
Thanks for reading my article!
Have a great two weeks!
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Here are some links to other articles and podcasts I’ve enjoyed recently! I hope you will also…
From Beer Puns To The Lack of Housing Homeruns – Housing Notes by Jonathan Miller
Real Estate Gumbo Episode 1 –JM Appraisers PODCAST
Wait, isn’t the market supposed to be tanking? – Sacramento Appraisal Blog
How To Price Your House To Sell During A Pandemic – Birmingham Appraisal Blog
Cash-out Refis Declining – Inspection Warnings – Snowboarding Cat – UFO Homes – APPRAISAL TODAY
Econometrics? Oh No! – George Dell’s Analogue Blog
FHA Appraisals and Deferred Maintenance – The Appraisal Cast PODCAST
April Newsletter – From a Distance – DW Slater Blog
When Loans Go Bad – Preparing For The Next Wave – Working RE (By Rachel Massey)