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Old 11-19-2010, 09:16 AM   #1
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Small leak in low-slope roof


I have recently purchased a 2 family home that was renovated into single family residence that was built in 1895. This is my first home that has a flat roof (well it's not entirely flat, it slopes very gradually to the back) so this is all new territory to me. The roof looks like it has the standard style paper rolls with tar being used as the sealant on the seams, parapets(sp?), etc. On the 2nd floor after the prvious rain in my area I noticed a small wet spot (6" long by 2" high) on the drywall/plaster near the ceiling in a corner of an outside wall and interior wall. I went on the roof to try and get acquainted with what I might be looking for but not to my surprise I had no real idea what to look for.

I will probably be calling a roofing specialist since I am fairly lost in what I am looking at and with the large quantity of tar up there it appears finding the leak will prove to be very difficult.

My question involves the old chimneys/flues. On my roof there are 2 chimneys and what appear to be 2 flue pipes (about 8" round ceramic pipes) as well as some smaller pipe which might be the vent for the master bathroom. Of these variety of pipes only the chimneys have any sort of covering on them to prevent water from coming in. Could one of these pipes be the cause of the leak and am I ok with capping these off since I have no wood burning stoves and there are no fireplaces in the house anymore.

Sorry for the long build up to the question but I was just looking for input.

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Old 11-19-2010, 01:04 PM   #2
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Small leak in low-slope roof


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Could one of these pipes be the cause of the leak and am I ok with capping these off since I have no wood burning stoves and there are no fireplaces in the house anymore.
Yes and yes. My experience has been that most roof problems begin with flashings, etc., rather than with the actual roofing, so those chimneys would be some of the first things that I would look at. However, in your case, and in my opinion, flat roofs are much more subject to premature failure, so it could be either, but since I have only limited experience with your type of roofing, I will defer to others.

One thing that comes to mind though, particularly since you indicated that you would be seeking a local prefessional, and since you said that the chimneys are not in use, you may want to start thinking about whether or not you could eliminate them. Normally, I would not go to that extreme to eliminate a leak, but knowing that there is work to be done on the roof, and that flat roofs can be problematic enough, my suggestion would be to analyze the situation, and see if any of them could be removed, then sheathed and roofed over.

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Old 11-19-2010, 01:37 PM   #3
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Small leak in low-slope roof


Thanks for the input. Unfortunately the chimneys are all brick as well as the flues and all are viewable from the street so the historic district I am in won't allow me to remove the chimneys entirely.
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Old 11-19-2010, 02:01 PM   #4
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Small leak in low-slope roof


Okay. I was a little confused by what you had, but since they are brick chimney's, although they could be removed, I wouldn't do that either. But, another thing that you should take a look at then, is the concrete caps on the chimneys. They should be at least 2-3 inches thick, free of cracks, sloped away from the flue, and overhang the bricks by an inch or so. If you see any issues there, particularly if they are cracked, you may want to have a mason replace them, and I would probably be inclined to do that before repairing the roof, depending on the extent of roof repairs. Beyond that, again, I don't have a lot of experience with flat or flatter roofs, so will shut up. Good luck.
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Old 11-19-2010, 05:30 PM   #5
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Small leak in low-slope roof


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Originally Posted by Phillip99 View Post
My question involves the old chimneys/flues. On my roof there are 2 chimneys and what appear to be 2 flue pipes (about 8" round ceramic pipes) as well as some smaller pipe which might be the vent for the master bathroom. Of these variety of pipes only the chimneys have any sort of covering on them to prevent water from coming in. Could one of these pipes be the cause of the leak and am I ok with capping these off since I have no wood burning stoves and there are no fireplaces in the house anymore.
Don't cap anything off unless you know for a fact that no gas furnaces/h2o heaters are venting out them. Better yet, just don't cap off anything and call the roofer. He should know if you need to cap anything off and or call the HVAC guy too.
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