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RedBear 03-05-2010 07:06 PM

Flat Tar Roof Leak
5 Attachment(s)

I have a flat tar roof that slopes ever so slightly to the rear corner of the house. In that same rear corner of the house, I have a leak that is clearly coming from the roof.

I tried putting some roof tar (Henry 505) in that rear corner. It helped but there is still a steady leak.

I noticed that there are some ripples in the tar roof leading to the place where the leak seems to be entering the house. By 'ripples' I mean that there seem to be bubbles under the top layer of tar. If I push on these parts of the tar with my fingers, I push the top layer down an inch or more.

The house is old (1930's) and I think there are many layers of tar on this roof.

Should I rip up all of the rippled tar? If so, do I need to have the whole roof re-tarred?

Or, can I take off the rippled tar and just replace that (3' x 5') section? The whole roof is 20' x 60'.

I just added some pictures. The grayish area is where I added the Henry 505.

Any thoughts are much appreciated.


Slyfox 03-06-2010 06:52 AM

Can't really say with out a picture or two.

I have repaired many roofs that the home owners thought would have to be torn off and re-done, but with out a picture or on site inspection it's hard to say.

AaronB 03-06-2010 08:53 AM

I agree with Sly

RedBear 03-06-2010 09:59 AM

Now that we have some warm days ahead, I will jump up on the roof and take some pictures. I have been putting this off due to the snow while catching the melted snow in buckets in my house in the meantime.


AllanJ 03-06-2010 03:54 PM

You need to look for places where the tar may be peeling or places where there are seams of any kind. Sometimes a break may be hard to see and if you are lucky when you press on a dry area suddently water appears giving away a crack.

Also the break or crack may be some distance away from where the water drips inside.

Places where water ponds (collects) are very suspect since if there is a break there, the water could continue to leak inside until what has accumulated there is gone (has gone inside).

RedBear 03-07-2010 04:19 PM

Alright I added a few pictures to my original post.

The gray area is the Henry stuff I added. There are no cracks where I put the Henry stuff. However, there are quite a few basketball-size areas around my patch that are cracked. Hopefully, you can see me pushing down on one area where the top level of tar gives way. The white thing sticking up is flashing that somebody put to guide the water to the downspout, I guess.

Since there are many basketball-size areas where there are cracks across the whole roof, should I get the whole roof refinished?

Does one usually tear up these areas where the top layer is bulging/rippling before putting on a new layer of tar? I am not proposing tear up all of the tar down to the wood roof in these areas, but just the top layer of tar that is bulging/rippling.

Is this roof in horrible shape or moderately bad?

Hope the pictures help. Let me know if you need further information about the pictures.

Much thanks,


AaronB 03-07-2010 08:10 PM

Truthfully, I would only go to the roof deck and start all over again... it looks as if someone has been trying to nurse this thing along for sometime now, and you're only prolonging the inevitable.

Slyfox 03-08-2010 06:40 AM

You have had plain ole roof cement gunked on there so many times that's its impossible to see the actual problem anymore.
I can't say you need a complete new roof but those pictures surely suggest it.

Most roofers give free estimates, I would call a few and get their opinions.

Note, I said a few, always get numerous opinions/estimates.

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