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lindaberrien 05-26-2007 10:13 AM

help me solve this mystery please
Please excuse the length but I am trying to solve a long standing puzzle that we have tried to have addressed for too long. Our house is scheduled to be reroofed next week and after that all evidence will be gone. I need help.

I live with my Mom in a 1 ½ story condo. My Dad passed away in 2001.Here is a brief history of the house:
1971 House built
1988 First reroofing . No info on that.
1989 – House purchased by my parents
1995 – I move in to help parents
1998 – Reroofing all shingles taken off.

The upstairs has a finished bedroom and bath at one end of the house. There is a large storage room at the other end. You can see rafters and insulation in the storage room and it is unheated or cooled.

There is a door that can close this room off from the rest of the upstairs. It is usually closed except for the spring and fall. When the door is open, the single window in the storage room lines up with the single window in the bedroom. A box fan sits in the window of the storage room. It runs all year long and creates a good current of air. There had been a roof exhaust fan but it had broken in the early 1990ties.

Before the 1998 roofing I could see daylight through the eves of the South side of the house.

The box fan in the window of the storage room drew a good current of air and in the summer it was possible to cool down the storage room to tolerable temperatures in the evening. My Mom and I did crafts at a long table in the center of the room in the spring and fall. The breeze that was pulled from the open window in the bedroom by the box fan in the storage room made it very pleasant.

Prior to the 1998 reroofing, there had been no problem with moisture. Although extremely hot in the storage room, the attic part was basically arid. We dried flowers up there.

Prior to the 1998 reroofing, the insulation in the storage room looked brand new. The paper was the color of a new cardboard box and there was no sagging or drooping. There were no stains or watermarks on the insulation paper. In fact it looked brand new.

There was a large piece of carpeting on the floor of the storage room that was a light gold. There was not a mark on the carpet and it, too, looked brand new. Several months after the 1998 roofing it began to get water/tar marks.

I live in the bedroom upstairs. I also have my computer and desk in the bedroom and do my work there. I am in and out of the storage room all the time. As a result I came to know both room very well.

Our problems began in 1998 after I had lived here four years. In that year the house was reroofed.

In the fall of that year and after the reroofing, I noticed water marks/stains on the carpet. I also saw watermarks on the sub flooring where the water had pooled and run slightly downhill.

The insulation paper began to get dark in the southwest corner of the room. Over the next 8-10 months this darkening of the paper would spread throughout the entire attic. The insulation began to droop and come off. The paper became so dark it was impossible to read the manufacturers name. (owens corning)

A black tar like substance dropped from the rafters and began to cover things on the back or North side of the house. Boxes that had been stored on the back or north facing side of the house were stained. These boxes had been stored in this spot since my parents had moved here. One of them was a box of Xmas decorations that I would get out yearly. It had no stains before the reroofing but did after this.
Eventually we had to cover everything on the backside of the house with plastic.
This dripping and staining seemed to slow down and then stop about three years after the reroofing.

In 2006 –2007 mold developed and was found everywhere. It was especially bad in the crawl spaces between the top of the finished ceiling above the hall and bedroom. It was black on the drywall, which made of the back of my closet.

Presently we are having all insulation hauled out, and entire new roof and sheathing put on.

I was especially anxious to see what the sheathing would look like after the insulation was off. The South or front of the house was fine but the North or back of the house was terrible.

When the house had been reroofed in 1998 I had seen, from the outside, a panel of sheathing that looked waterlogged. I asked that it be replaced. The roofers said they had also asked but the request had been denied.
The sheathing on the backside of the house was buckled and we had noticed from the outside view that the roof had been buckling and sagging. When I saw the sheathing from the inside without the insulation, it was obvious why this sagging had taken place. Almost every panel was disturbed and warped.

There were water stains and in some places dry rot. The water stains seemed to start at the rafters (?) or beams that go from the eves to the top of the roof. In some places they only spread out a little, but in other places they would go across the panel.

At the corner of the house (NW) it looked as if the ceiling from the eves to the top was detached from the walls. I could have easily slipped my hand in-between the two. The water stains and dry rot were especially bad here and covered the panel from the eves halfway up to the top of the roof. This is where I had seen the insulation start to get dark; it was also the same panel I had seen from the outside on the 1998 roofing and asked to have replaced and which, I was told, was denied. The stains did not look as if they were from condensation. They looked as if from water.

Two different companies had actually done the reroofing in 1998. One did the back another company did the front. The nails on the back of the house were amazing to look at. In some places they had used long nails that went through the whole roof and extended out several inches. The wood had split in some places where these long nails had been used. In places where short nails had been used the number of these nails was amazing. Many were bent, and there were some spots where a number of nails had been driven in the same spot. There were panels on the upper part of the roof that had very few nails.

The front side looked fine. Normal number of nails and all were the proper size. No water stains. Plywood looked new.

Over the years we have had numerous “experts” look at this problem. We have been told the following:
Insulation too thick.
Excessive heat in unfinished part.
Lack of functioning exhaust fan.
Wind driven rain under shingles
Extremely poor reroofing job.

I have been struck with one thought concerning most of the reasons above. It seemed as if most people saw the obvious and then latched on to that idea and would not let it go no matter what evidence was presented. There was no discussion.
Condensation was the most obvious reason of all. But after 30 years this would have covered the entire back side of the roof at the very least. Also condensation often forms circular type patterns and not one of these were remotely circular. The vast majority of the panels were not stained but did show random signs of water marks. I also had used local roofers. A few admitted they didn’t want to say anything but did want the job. The reason for their reluctance stems from the fact that our Association replaces the shingles of some units every year which is a good account for roofers.

To me there are several pieces of information that just can’t be dismissed and they are:

Prior to 1998 reroofing there were no signs of water. The house was 27 years old when this started and when we began trying to have it corrected. The speed with which the insulation darkened and spread made it obvious to me that had this had not been a long-standing problem or it would have happened long ago.

The black tarry substance started after the reroofing and stopped several years later. It could have come from the asphalt like substance used to attach the fiberglass to the paper, but supposedly the melting point of that is extremely high. It could have come from the roof. The point is that had it been a long standing problem this substances would have melted off a long time ago and there would have been nothing left to melt in 1998.

I need to find some kind of answer soon because the roofing will be torn off this week and all evidence will be gone and I will never have an answer.

I know this has been too long, but I have written this in the hopes that someone out there can look at the obvious fact that this problem did not exist until the reroofing and describe some way I can investigate some factor that would help determine when and how this all came about. I can’t help feeling that the fact I am a woman and old makes me seem stupid in the eyes of the “experts”. I would be grateful for any help or suggestions.

Ed the Roofer 05-26-2007 02:13 PM

Woman or man, or consultant or roofer, that is one of the most precise and articulate descriptions of symptoms and causation analysis I have ever read.

Too long, but thats okay. I liked the thoroughness of the details.

My first thought, is that in 1998, something else occured in the back side of the roofing portion of the job.

You stated that prior to 1998, you could see "Daylight" from the eaves. I will presume you meant from a continuous soffit intake strip vent, since you were so precise about everything else.

After 1998, you saw no daylight.

Badda Boom, Badda Bing! Problems begin to occur!

Remember that point now.

You also stated that besides all of the darkened insulation kraft paper and carpet staining, that the actual rafter insulation began to sag and was saturated with moisture.

Also, a "tar" like emission from the lumber or through it.

Firstly, when you said it was not water, but condensation, you are wrong.

Condensation is water. No need to explain any further. Think about it. It is just not a lorge volume of "flowing" water, yet it is moisture just the same, only in a continuous vapor form which collects prevalently enough to condensate until the products associated with this contact show continuing signs of saturation.

I believe that the most significant portion of the attic ventilation system was compromised at that time. Either the actual fresh air intake vents were clogged up and did not allow fresh air in to create a flushing like flowage through the attic cavity, which would proceed to the exhaust ventilation system nad carry out the humid vapor accumulation before it had the opportunity to condense.

Insulation tightly adhered to the roof decking is a big time No-No. There should have been in place an insulation baffle vent chute, sometimes called a baffle vent and sometimes called a proper vent and sometimes called a rafter-mate. It is a 4 ft x either 24" or 12" cardboard or styrofoam air diversion product and very cheap to buy. Think of a styrofoam egg carton, and make that into the width of the rafter spacing and continue extending each 4 foot piece from the bottom by the eave/soffit fresh air intake vents, (WHICH MUST BE 100% CONTINUOUS), and they go all of the way up to the ridge of the roof.

These baffle vents leave about a 1 1/2" gap for air to be channeled into to flow unobstructed from the soffit vents to the "RIDGE" vent, which also should be 100 % continuous.

The insulation sagged when the weight of the vapor condensated due to not flowing outward to the exhaust vent andthen continually saturated the insulation material until the fasteners just could not hold it in place any longer.

Further exasperating the situation, the PAV, powered attic ventilator broke down in the early 90's, and at least may have moderately assisted in reducing the RH, relative humidity content before it could condense.

The tar like substance most likely is sap being "boiled" out of the wood framing members. The continuously super-heated structure. That plus the growth of a black moldy environment may make it look like tar, but it actually is sap.

I recommend the following:

1) Remove and replace All insulation.

2) Replace 100 % of all decking using a minimum of 1/2" 4-ply exterior grade CDX plywood sheathing. DEFINITELY NOT OSB OR PARTICLE BOARD!!!!!

3) Install 100 % continuous soffit intake vents. If that is not feasable, have the roofing contractor install a taperewd coroplast product called "Smart Vent" manufactured by DCI Products Inc. on the bottom sheet of new plywood across the entire length of both sides of the house to create a intake flowage of 9 square inches per lineal foot. The plywood get a slot cut into it from the 6" to 7" point above the bottom edge of the new plywood sheathing, creating a location for air to flow unimpeded to the under side of the decking all the way to the top of the roof through the insulation baffle vent chutes. Seal off any other wall or gable vents to prevent short-circuiting of the ventilation flowage.

4) Use Grace Ice and Water shield over at least the bottom 3 feet of the new plywood decking, which will also cover up the 12" Smart Vent. Under the bottom edge of the Smart Vent, install a new Gutter Apron Drip Edge flashing.

5) Cover the remainder of the house in either a 30# felt paper or a synthetic felt such as Tri-Flex.

6) At night time if the felt paper is to be left unshingled, cover it up with tarps so it does not absorb any ambient humidity or morning dew condenstion, which would then promote wrinkling of the felt after it gets dry and the wrinkles would telegraph through the newly installed shingles.

7) Use a good quality medium to heavy-weight architectural style shingle. My "Preference" is the Tamko Heritage Series.

8) Install the Shingle Vent II ridge vent 100 % continuously along the entire ridge of the home. Only this brand and design. NO MUSHROOM STATIC AIR VENTS OR/AND POWERED ATTIC VENTILATORS!!!!!

Install new insulation after the roof job, per the R-value for your area, making sure that it does not impede and close off either the intake or the exhaust vent slots.

Pay your contractor on time.

Recieve your written warranty.

Sleep assured the job is done correctly, if you followed my recommendations. If you omit anything from what I have instructed, you WILL have problems all over again and I will not take this much time to be so descriptive the next time around.

Good Luck, and if you need any further one to one advise, you may contact me via my Roofing Blog @ or you can e-mail me the contract to review the specifications to

I would ensure, that before the roof work is undertaken, that you make sure the proper specifications are being adhered to, other wise you may be seeing your roofer again with a mold claim, which would not be fair to him.


P.S. I will be gone until Monday evening or "Tuesday after Memorial day.

ron schenker 05-26-2007 03:26 PM

Ed, that's one of the most precise and articulate descriptions of an answer for woman or man, or consultant or roofer that I have ever read:thumbsup: Actually I didn't read it all...the question and answer were too long for my low attention span brain. Keep up the good work

Ed the Roofer 05-26-2007 10:21 PM


I agree. I first starting reading her question earlier this morning, and soon realized that it was going to require some focused attention to be able to respond adequately.

I just hope that after I typed in a 1/2 hour reply, that she comes back and checks it out.

Yes, my reply is too long as well, but she had many years of observations requiring disection and analysis.


ron schenker 05-27-2007 11:26 AM


Originally Posted by Ed the Roofer (Post 46430)

I agree. I first starting reading her question earlier this morning, and soon realized that it was going to require some focused attention to be able to respond adequately.

I just hope that after I typed in a 1/2 hour reply, that she comes back and checks it out.

Yes, my reply is too long as well, but she had many years of observations requiring disection and analysis.


You're the man Ed:thumbsup: BTW the last time I did any disection and analysis was in my biology class in "68

lindaberrien 05-27-2007 12:08 PM

disection and analysis
I just had to reply to a few comments such as hope she checks back after 1/2 hour answer, too long, and the last time I did disection and analysis was in Biology class because they struck so close to home.

"She" checked back about every five minutes since "she" posted the question. Because she feels like she is drowning in a sea of people telling her what to do and has had to try to determine what was right or wrong. Until I find out what went wrong with the roof, there is little sense in having a new one put on.

"too long"...yes, yes, yes I totally agree. I am so tired of telling the story over and over year after year to deaf people who simply can't understand the basic fact that:
If before a certain date something was not there and after a certain date it was there....then find what happened on that date and work from there to understand it. This is especially relevant if there are ways to prove the absence or presence of that "something" .

I attempted to be as precise as possible in the hopes of reaching someone like Ed the roofer. I think he should have his own icon. What a joy to find someone who is so passionate about his occupation that he practices it and still researches ways to do it better; rather than getting stuck on one idea and refusing to let it go. Ii don't know where he lives but if it was anywhere close to here, he would do my roof in a second.

"disection and analysis....Biology class." Had to laugh at that one. I happen to be a Biology teacher who was born with the trail of disecting and analyzing everything. For me it probably rests in the fear of making a mistake. I am a real PIA about this and am sure I bore everyone to death with it.

In this matter of roofing, I am on the verge of just turning the whole thing over to a contractor who sounds like he knows it all and has that certain authoritarian attitude even though that kind has been my nemesis in the past. I keep forgetting they can read me as well as I think I can read them. I should underline the word "think" when it applies to me. I wish there were a spell checker on this thing.

Ed the roofer is my hero and I thank him for taking the time to reply with in depth answers.

ron schenker 05-27-2007 01:37 PM

He's now my new hero too...along with Ron the Plumber:thumbup:

Ed the Roofer 05-27-2007 01:50 PM


Linda, the providing of a proper analysis is only possible with the correct information supplied in the first place, which you properly did to the best of your abilities, which helped out the diagnosis immensley.

There is a spell checker here if you choose to use it. It is the abc with the check mark at the top right corner of this reply box. I don't bother with it, because even with minor errors, the point still gets across.

I am located in the NW suburbs of Chicago, and do all of my work within a 15 minute drive from my shop. If you do check out my blog site, it is relatively new, but contains some other good information recently added regarding ventilation questions.

I used to travel over 7 states to do special single ply membranes, architectural sheet metal work, and clay and concrete tile roofs on the most popular theme restaurant chains in the country. Now, I choose to do all of my work near my home instead of living out of a hotel.

So, if you live anywhere in the midwest, you probably live near a Hardees, Romanos Macaroni Grill, Chilis, Taco Bell, KFC, Wendys, TGIF, Burger King, etc... which I did the roof on. My favorite out of town job was a Macaroni Grill in Livonia, Michigan back in the winter of 1993.

I am presuming you are taking the advice I suggested, and therefor, if you would like, I would be willing to review any contract specifications someone has offered to provide for you.



lindaberrien 05-27-2007 04:02 PM

from lindaberrien re rooffffffffffff
I just got your message. Did you get the message I sent you at the other url you gave me. It was called Eddie's Dad. If not please check it. I will send another via that address when I have a second to do so and explain the situation.
Re: the roof. Have spoken to several contractors. The proposal is downstairs and I'll try to tell you the high points. What I do remember is that he used the sheathing you don't like (OSB?) and said that was the only kind he used. He also said to find out the kind of shingles used on all the houses here because he couldn't find it. I don't want a replacement of the shingles I had last time. They were cheap and not algae resistant. Even though I am having to pay for the roof, I have to match what the Board says, the contractor says he can't so there is one more problem. The mold removal isn't quite finished and that has been a real ordeal. I had to rent a storage trailer and move everything from the attic to the trailer. Now wait for the mold remediation to finish, then the roofer, then repack everything into new boxes from the storage trailer plus care for my Mom. It's all work only I can do but I'll hire someone for the carrying.
The roofer said that the sheathing and roof can be replaced in one or two days because he has a crew of 14 men.

Is this going to make a huge mess on the second floor and do they have to even enter the second floor at all?

My parents used to live in Willamette. Is that near you? We are in NC.

I am going to try to get my digital camera hooked up to my computer to see if I can get some pictures of the corner of the house that I told you about. After looking at it again today, I can't help wondering if that wasn't where it all began.

The mold didn't develop until this year. It may have started but it exploded this spring, Most of it was on the covering of the insulation, the side with the paper.
If there was condensation, wouldn't the mold have been on the inside of the plywood as well? That would be a perfect place for it to grow but there was none there,
Please let me know if that other message I sent got through.

Ed the Roofer 05-27-2007 09:07 PM

I will,under zero circumstances, use OSB board, unless the homeowner signs a disclaimer regarding all of the problems associated with its usage and swelling.

The only reason I see contractors using it, is because it is between $ 5.00 to $ 10.00 per sheet cheaper than 1/2" 4-ply exterior grade CDX.

I have many resource technical papers written directly from the manufacturers themselves and the plywood vs osb type testing organizations, which verify why OSB is a less desireable product in every comparible testing result available.

I will not get back to my office computer until Tuesday, as I dont open up my e-mails from other sources. I like it to be archived on my hard drive.

Willmette is only about 1/2 hour away.

14 men. I would only want trained experienced guys desiring to do a thorough and quality job, not just a fast one composed of minimum wage grunts. Too many things get overlooked and don't surface as a problem until later when every one is bumping into each other.

I don't know if you checked out my Blog site or are referring to my e-mail address, but I can not check either until I get back from my weekend trip to visit family.


AaronB 05-28-2007 09:01 AM

Ed, that was magnificent. I couldnt have said it better myself, although I have tried.

Linda, if you follow ed's advice ye shall be OK.

lindaberrien 05-28-2007 11:26 AM

the mystery deepens
There is something about this whole roof situation that makes no sense at all. The insulation is gone and in the dump. But I haven

lindaberrien 05-28-2007 12:03 PM

second try
There is something about this whole roof situation that makes no sense at all. The insulation is gone and in the dump. But I haven’t given the ok yet for a new roof. Here’s a question for you.

Suppose someone wanted to sell a house but they knew the sheathing was warped and in bad shape. Suppose they found some insulation on sale and hired some day labors to tack it up. What better way to cover a defect?

The insulation was about ten inches thick. Much to heavy. There was no ridge vent, no breathing space, nothing. It was tacked right to the joists (is that the right word) (the beams that hold the roof up) In other words the installation was totally wrong, and done with the wrong insulation. But unless someone walked in and pulled some down, there would not be any way to know anything at all about the kind of insulation or how it was put up. The one thing everyone agreed on was the fact that no one could understand how, why, or who would have done such a terrible job in the way the insulation was put up.

In my letter to you I drew a rough diagram and will try to do so here.

I couldn't put in the diagram. But picture you are looking at the side of the house and the house is like a square and the roof is a triangle.
The floor of the second story would be the top of the square and the base of the triangle. Mentally draw a line that begins in the center of the floor line and goes up to the peak of the roof.

There is a separation between the roof and the side of the house that extends at least 2/3 of the way from the corner where where the eves meet the roof across to the center line you just drew. And 1/4 to 1/2 from that corner to the peak of the roof.

This is the back of the house where the sheathing is all warped across the entire length. Every panel. The red line represents the place where the house and roof have separated. There is at least a two-inch space between the roof and walls. When my parents bought this house it was infested with mice. Easy to see why. Occasionally a few get in but the storage room is a minefield with traps and they don’t get far. Water stains are worst in this corner. This is also the area where the insulation started to get dark. The insulation on the sidewall and on the back roof were first. Then all over. It also might be the reason that I could never see a leak when it rained. No dripping. Water was getting in but was probably running down the sides and into that crack.

This corner is also the place roofers used to access the roof (both front and back); every heavy load of new shingles was dropped there as well. This could have caused the separation or made it worse.
This could explain why we started to see the water problems after the reproofing in 1998.

What would have been the difference in cost to previous owners to cover the warping of the sheathing with insulation compared to a new roof?

Of course that leaves the question of why we weren’t told about the damage, which I think could also be explained.
Is there any method that would enable me to determine how old that damage is? This might explain the whole thing. What do you think? Am I correct in holding off on the new roof until I get meticulous documentation i.e. pictures etc.?

Sorry this is confusing. If I knew how to put an image in it would have madme sense. If you drew a triangle and with a vertical line cut away one half of the right side that is where the separation occurs.

Thank you for the time and effort you are spending on this problem.

Ed the Roofer 05-28-2007 05:28 PM

I think what you are trying to describe is a cape cod with a second story, with a knee wall, which seperates the living quarter environment from the last portion of the house, closest to the eaves, which would be used as storage.

Insulation being tacked directly to the underside of the decking is common and unfortunate, but most insulation contractors, roofers, or homeowners understand that there needs to be an air flow cavity on the underside of the decking. Even if they do understand it, do they go through the additional minor time and expense to do it right? Hardly!

Were they covering up an existing defect? Quite possibly so, but you would nrver be able to prove it, so don't waste your time and energy on it.

Why is your contractor already working on the job removing insulation if you have not given the okay on it? Or, is this a seperate contractor, and he is authorized?

That seems strange, to say the least. Do they only do hand-shake deals where you live? I think not, at least if they want to get paid for what they are going to be doing.


lindaberrien 05-29-2007 04:05 PM

The insulation was taken out by a separate contractor who is doing mold demediation.

Everything is on hold right now. My Mom took an instant turn for the worst this morning. Now we are in the final hours, and I took a quick break to let you know. You've given me so much of your time, I just didn't want you to think I had walked off and ignored all the info you gave me. My Mom had seemed fine, then all of a sudden she was fighting to breath. I was terrified it had something to do with getting the mold out of the attic, but the second floor is totally shut off from the first floow and they rigged curtains all over. The Hospice nurse said it was totally unrelated.

I'll check back when this is not so painful and I can get my thoughts together. Thank you again for your help.
linda berrien

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