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Old 11-11-2012, 11:46 AM   #1
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Mystery Leak Running Out Of Ideas...


Kind of a long story so bear with me. Location is South Florida.

This is a leak (and more likely a combination leak) that has tricked me and I am not sure what to do next. Even my roofer has given up.

I have a spot in my celing (which is about 20' up) and tongue and groove wood ceiling, hence there is no space above that I can examine the roof deck from below. This spot drips water whenever I have a storm.

This spot also happens to be about 6" from the edge of a chimney.

I first contacted a roofer, let's call him roofer A. Roofer A looked at the water mark on the underside of the wood ceiling, and the chimney, and he determined that the problem has to be the chimney flashing has failed. He's been in roofing for 40 years and he is 100% sure it's the flashing. OK. Let's replace the flashing. The chimney is also located where the different planes of the roof intersects. Here is a picture of the chimney AFTER the flashing was redone.



When he finished with the flashing I asked if we should do a test with a garden hose he said he is sure it's perfect and no need.

Well, after two months it rained and I saw the drip again. Not exactly at the same spot but two or three inches further. I called him up and he said no way, the flashing was done perfectly and there is no way the flashing failed. But I showed him the leak and he said he would go up to investigate. After looking at it from above, he came back and said he thinks it is probably a failure in the valley. The next picture shows a valley to the left side and he said most times the paper under the tiles when they don't do the joints right, will leak, and that was probably the cause of the leak and the water travels across under the paper above the roof deck.



I questioned then, why did I have to redo the flashing of the chimney if that wasn't the cause of the leak, and why he told me he was so sure it was the chimney flashing and shouldn't we have done some water test to pin point the source before we tear things up?

He got mad at me and said firstly, the flashing on the chimney was old and it's due for a replacement anyways (the roof was entirely redone by the previous owner in 2006 so I wasn't sure if that's the case), so his work wasn't a waste. Second, that doesn't mean the chimney flashing wasn't leaking, that he has seen multiple leaks happening all the time. He left and then sent me a quote of $2500 to tear up my valley and redo that, again, not knowing it was REALLY the cause, but only based on his 40 year experience. I didn't hire him to redo the valley, I was still not too happy to have done the chimney flashing (and surrounding tiles) not kowning if that was really needed.

I ended up taking a garden hose up to the roof myself, and started to splash on the tiles systematically one row at a time and work my way up to the chimney, while a neighbor from below watch and alert me if he sees any dripping. Finally, I was able to find a row that above which when I spray would leak. I took a hammer and broke a few tiles, and found the cause of the leak. There was a framing repair some time ago, and whoever replaced the top plate of a wall, pounded the nail back up from below, that nail punctured the roofing paper but was rusted now and leaking. Once I found the nail I removed the nail and patched in some Home Depot roof sealant. Then I called another roofer, let's say roofer B to come and redo the paper right and put in new tiles because I broke some existing tiles. I also asked them to break more tiles along the footprint of that wall, to make sure there is more nails were hammered back through.

Finally problem solved, right? No...

Everything was fine, when it rains, no drips. But when there is a storm, drips again!!!

I don't understand. Chimney flashing replaced, nail hole found, patched and new tiles over.

It leaks ONLY when there is a severe storm with driving rain!

So I called roofer B to come out, they used a water hose and sprayed in all directions from the chimney down to surrounding areas, no leak. Sprayed for closed to 30 minutes, nothing. I said let me try, and I went up, they went below, I sprayed for another 30 minutes, no leak they said. They left, and as I was taking the garden hose back inside, I heard drip drip drip. It was leaking, slowly.

I tried to retrace my steps, where was I spraying on last?

So the next day, I had a neighbor stayed below, and I went up again, spraying on the spots I was spraying before. Another hour of spraying in all directions, onto the tiles, into the cracks of the tiles, around the chimney, on the chimney, on the ridge...nothing.

Gave up, came down, puzzled...took garden hose back in, and then drip drip drip.

I am totally confused now.

Is it possible that whatever this leak is, it takes an hour to get to the spot for it to start dripping? Both times, I gave up, then I started to see the leak.

I wanted to tell the whole story so you know what's been done so far to attack the problem.

Any idea how I would pin point the problem area?

Roofer B said the only way they can do it is to tear up all the areas may be 5' around the chimney. I prefer to do a much smaller scale repair, if I can find the spot.

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Old 11-11-2012, 06:37 PM   #2
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Mystery Leak Running Out Of Ideas...


I dont see new flashing on the chimney, i do see mortar but i would not consider that flashing...did he put metal in there? Without knowing what your roofer did, i still suspect the chimney. Just because he says its new, does not mean it done properly, it looks suspect to me.

So your saying it leaks when you run water below the chimney as indicated by the drawing ? If this is the case, remove the tiles below the chimney, re paper and reinstall the roof tiles.

That would be a minimal repair that should eliminate the leak.

If the leak does not appear until you run water on the chimney then your first roofer screwed it up and he needs to fix it if he gave you a warranty.

I would also put a spark arrestor on the chimney


Last edited by AndyWRS; 11-11-2012 at 06:40 PM.
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Old 11-12-2012, 07:59 AM   #3
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Mystery Leak Running Out Of Ideas...


The entire surrounding of the chimney was stripped and reflashed. What you see here now, is they applied another layer of stucco over the entire surface.

Here are some pictures of the new flashing while installation was in progress.

When they redid the flashing, they also had to remove some tiles around the chimney and they redid the membranes for one or two rolls.







Yet once all was said and done, when it did rain, it dripped from the same spot down below.

Because I have T&G wood plank ceiling, and that ceiling is very close to the roof deck, both roofers told me the actual leak on the roof deck could have been 10 feet away, and travelled to the spot it dripped down because there is a seam there that allowed water to come through below.

Nonetheless, when the first roofer sent me that valley tear up quote, I didn't hire him to tear up and redo the valley. Instead I measured where the drip came down below, and transferred the measurements up top, and that's where I used the garden hose to sprayed a 10'x10' area near there, and identified the row above which where water would penetrate. I broke a couple of tiles there - which HAPPENS to be near the spot where they replaced tiles when they redid the flashing, just one tile over.

I hired roofer B to do the repair of that punctured nail hole. Here is a picture of what they did. Looks good to me. Note that the chimney was already painted by then.



Now, I have drips from below, same spot.

Not from flashing, not from the nail hole - not anymore.

Done two tests, spraying all around the chimney, up to six rows of tiles down from the chimney and no leak...until an hour later, a slow leak develops, at least 10 minutes after I STOPPED spraying.

I cannot open the spot above where the leak occurred. It has already been torn up and redone. That's the spot only six inches from that nail hole puncture, so that's been patched already.
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Old 11-12-2012, 08:15 AM   #4
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Mystery Leak Running Out Of Ideas...


No over hang on the chimmney crown, and it looks like that flashing is just laying flat againt the sides of the chimmney, not cut into it, or installed under the stucco so water can just run down behind it.
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Old 11-12-2012, 11:45 AM   #5
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Mystery Leak Running Out Of Ideas...


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Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
No over hang on the chimmney crown, and it looks like that flashing is just laying flat againt the sides of the chimmney, not cut into it, or installed under the stucco so water can just run down behind it.
The second set of pics was posted to show that there was flashing around the chimney. That wasn't the final product.

They put bull all the way around over the lips of the flashing.

Then they put a layer of wire lath around the chimney, put stucco over the whole thing, which resulted in the pics I posted on the first post.



I have since primed and painted over that as well, no leak from the wall of the chimney.

The leak is not from water penetrating inside the chimney either. That would have gone to the damper underneath. I have sealed the top opening with a tarp and that didn't make a difference.

I guess my question is still...can a leak be such that you spray water on a location and it takes an hour to get to the ceiling below to leak? In other words, an hour to travel from where the leak is above to the spot that drips from below? The drip is within 10" from the edge of the chimney.

Is the only approach to tear up five to six rows of all the tiles around the chimney, tear up the new flashing, and redo everything all over again?
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Old 11-12-2012, 11:53 AM   #6
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Mystery Leak Running Out Of Ideas...


I was just at Home Depot and they have an infrared thermometer for rent (for like $45 4 hours or $75 one day).

FLIR i3 Compact Thermal Imaging InfraRed Camera (60x60)

I wonder if this would allow me to see from below, base on thermo imaging, where the trace of the water is behind the T&G ceiling, as a way to pin point it.
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Old 11-12-2012, 01:39 PM   #7
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Mystery Leak Running Out Of Ideas...


Miami, as you have read on here I'm sure in other posts, it is amazing how water can travel as it makes its' way through a hole, etc. It can enter a hole, slowly make its' way down a rafter for several feet before drops of water begin to fall because of gravity. It defies logic but I experienced it myself. I had just replaced my roof and after a hard rain I could hear a slow drip, drip, drip.......the water eventually made it's way through the ceiling and caused a good bit of damage. I looked everywhere for the leak even crawling thru the attic looking for ANYTHING suspicious. Finally got on the roof and found that I had punctured the aluminum valley flashing accidentally and water got in, moved 2 feet down a rafter before dropping.

At first I suspected water was getting into your chimney, penetrating a joint in the flu lining and somehow getting into your home that way........but you have eliminated that one. Really, really mystifying.

The infrared is worth a shot.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:15 PM   #8
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Mystery Leak Running Out Of Ideas...


Obvioulsy something was missed, i would start over with the water test if your determined to pinpoint this.

You said:

"where I used the garden hose to sprayed a 10'x10' area near there"

Just to be clear, your spraying one course at a time starting from below where the leak is ? giving each course 20+ min of a good soaking without getting the coarse above wet ? You may need to take 1 hour breaks between courses to pinpoint it. Your water test is going to take a long time if you do it correctly.

I could have removed the tiles from the ridge to the fascia and over the valley on the right, repapered and reinstalled your tiles for what you already spent on this. You can keep trying to pin point it doing a water test as i mentioned, or take the roofing up and start over. The problem with a repair like this is; what they did may be new and water tight, but if the existing paper above what they did is damaged then your still gonna leak. I do not see new paper ( or maybe its just dirty ) in your inprogress pics.
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Old 11-13-2012, 12:58 AM   #9
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I would have made the flashing from lead,,and flashed the bottom of chimney over the lower tiles,,,integrate the side tiles with step,,and use a backopan that dumps out to the sides,,I say flashing should be redone---way you`re set up,,the mortar absorbs the water,,any cracks in mortar allow water to get down below line of roof tiles,,which causes the problem
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Old 11-13-2012, 11:38 AM   #10
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Miami, as you have read on here I'm sure in other posts, it is amazing how water can travel as it makes its' way through a hole, etc. It can enter a hole, slowly make its' way down a rafter for several feet before drops of water begin to fall because of gravity. It defies logic but I experienced it myself. I had just replaced my roof and after a hard rain I could hear a slow drip, drip, drip.......the water eventually made it's way through the ceiling and caused a good bit of damage. I looked everywhere for the leak even crawling thru the attic looking for ANYTHING suspicious. Finally got on the roof and found that I had punctured the aluminum valley flashing accidentally and water got in, moved 2 feet down a rafter before dropping.

At first I suspected water was getting into your chimney, penetrating a joint in the flu lining and somehow getting into your home that way........but you have eliminated that one. Really, really mystifying.

The infrared is worth a shot.
I do understand that water might travel some distance before showing up below at a different spot.

But in my case it's not a traditional roof and ceiling. The roof deck is very close to the ceiling below. In fact, the distance between them is about 3/4" to 1", only deep enough to pass conduits and very shallow junction boxes. I am thinking because of this it wouldn't travel that far.

Here is a picture. To the left is the fireplace, it is a good 24" wider and longer down below compared to the chimney dimensions due to another layer of bricks surround it.



As you can see, there was some repair to the wall below. That's what caused one of the nails to pop when the framing guys hammered the nails back as they removed the old inclined top plate, they probably didn't know the deck above is so close.

I have adjusted the colors so that you can see the darkened spots to the right of the fireplace on the T&G ceiling, where there has been moisture damages. The blue circles are where water was dripping down previously.

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Old 11-13-2012, 01:11 PM   #11
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Mystery Leak Running Out Of Ideas...


Miami, it just has to be a flashing issue. In one of your pics (#2 above) you have that awkward area with roof above roof and I could picture water cascading off the first roof onto the area below and then sneaking into that black hole area BUT, your leak appears to be on the other side of that area. I know you probably don't want to start removing some of the TNG wood ceiling, but, you may have to do it to really get an answer as to what's going on up there.

P.S. Any way that water is seeping into that circular vent that protrudes from the chimney?
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Old 11-13-2012, 03:04 PM   #12
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Mystery Leak Running Out Of Ideas...


Still looks like water leeching thru cement top coat,going underneath,,the water will follow the grooves of the t+g ceiling till it finds it`s way in
Definitely issue is with the flashing detail
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:31 PM   #13
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OK if all the experts here feel the issue is with the flashing, and I am stumped as to how to pin point it without being on the roof for days after days spraying water, then I will reflash the whole thing, after already doing it once.

Now, the company who I originally hired to do the flashing, is ABSOLUTELY SURE they did the flashing correctly and the problem is NOT POSSIBLY with the flashing, and the only way they will come back out is to redo the whole valley, because he is NOW SURE the problem is with the valley due to his over 40 years of roofing experience.

Unless of course I can prove it's the flashing, but I can't.

So looks like I am going to have to fork up another $3000 to redo the flashing by another company, and cross my fingers this time it's done right, and cross my fingers the leak IS indeed the flashing.

Not feeling good about this...after the first time I did the flashing, I said I would not pay to redo something unless I am sure that's the problem, and now I am breaking my own rules.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:52 PM   #14
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I am stumped as to how to pin point it without being on the roof for days after days spraying water,
I know your frustrated but the hose test “is” the answer to troubleshoot this. It doesn't take days but a helper helps.

There’s no reason you shouldn't be able to figure this out with a hose, someone on the inside and a hour (or less) with someone on the roof.
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:00 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by kwikfishron View Post
I know your frustrated but the hose test “is” the answer to troubleshoot this. It doesn't take days but a helper helps.

There’s no reason you shouldn't be able to figure this out with a hose, someone on the inside and a hour (or less) with someone on the roof.
I have already done this several times, over an hour.

My original post detailed what I did.

To really use a hose to test my specific case, I have to start from a low point, spray one row for a good amount of time, and wait an hour before moving up, and that's only one side of it. The reason being the leak took over an hour to develop.

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