Roof Leak - home is 6 mos old

brian7972riJanuary 26, 2003

3 BR colonial, ridge roof, 6 mos old

We started to notice some water stains on the ceilings of 2 bedrooms on the front of the house. I bleached them, called the contractor, and he came out. He didn't look in the attic. 2 days later, more circles, and too much for me to bleach (plus, why mitigate the "evidence"?) Clearly the ceilings will need to be repainted anyway.

Contractor comes over again in 15 minutes. He climbs in the attic and declares that he's never seen an attic this bad before. He saw what I had previously seen: condensation. The entire front side of the house's roof panels were wet...the insulation was soaked, and the water was puddling between the insulation's moisture barrier and the ceiling board. Clearly we have a major problem.

Interestingly, the back side of the house where there's another bathroom doesn't appear to have a major problem. I suspect that this is becuase this is the sun-facing side of the house, whereas in the winter, the problem side doesn't get any sun.

He promised to get the roofer out there on Monday. I told him I was taking the day off of work to be there. I need some advice.

1. I took plenty of pictures.

2. I took notes of his comments when he was in the attic and the date.

3. I am going to call another roofer/inspector first thing in the morning to get another opinion (sadly, I may be preparing for litigation perhaps).

4. Anything else I can/should be doing ?

I am going to continue to document, document, etc., and today I cam going to go up in the attic with a video camera.

Any other advice/thoughts are appreciated.


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Oh, I forgot to mention, the contractor seems to think that the condensation is being caused by too small of a space on the ridge roof. If this is indeed the cause, is this something that my home inspector should have caught ?

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2003 at 9:53AM
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Is there snow on the roof?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2003 at 11:01AM
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No - no snow on the roof in the last week or two.

Here's a pic in the attic on the side of the house..clearly those boards shouldn't be wet:

One critical thing I forgot to mention is that the contractor thinks the ridge roof opening is too small, thus not allowing enough air to circulate. I find it interesting that he admitted that to me since he's the one in charge of building the house. I'm planning on getting an independent third party out there tomorrow, too, to give me his thoughts.

Here's a couple pics of the damage. I'm starting to think that merely painting the ceiling may not be enough.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2003 at 2:29PM
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Attics with no vents at all don't condense moisture unless warm moist air enters the attic space from the living area. One good source is bath fans exhausting into the attic space in cold weather. If that hasn't happened I would suspect your roof may have had an inverted ice dam, especially if freezing rain or sleet preceded the snow.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2003 at 3:24PM
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Thanks sandbur - looky what your post prompted me to go check out.

Shouldn't this vent be connected?!?! It's coming from my gas furnace. Can it be this simple? How did the contractor miss it (he was looking in the other direction today)? How could my home inspector miss it ?

I swiveled the lower piece around 180* and sure enough, they line up.

On the one hand, I'm livid if this was the cause. On the other hand, I'll be happy if it's this simple.

I'm going across the street at halftime to a neighbors to check his out. I'm sort of hoping that his is connected. Thanks for keeping an eye on this thread and giving me your thoughts...


    Bookmark   January 26, 2003 at 7:31PM
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Guess what my neighbor's looks like ?????


    Bookmark   January 26, 2003 at 8:18PM
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"Attics with no vents at all don't condense moisture unless warm moist air enters the attic space from the living area".

I just about missed this diagnosis completely didn't I, but that is a definite moisture source.

If I recall it takes about 14 cu. ft. of air to furnish 1 cu. ft. of gas with combustion air. There is no doubt you have found the problem. The heating contractor just needs to get his check book out and start paying. He will soon discover how good his insurance is. He better hope this moisture problem hasn't intergrated into the wall cavities or it will get expensive.
Hopefully the attic area can be dried before the warmer weather occurs that promotes mold growth.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2003 at 9:28PM
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I just received an email on this subject.
City inspector ought to have his butt kicked. No way a certificate of occupancy should have been issued.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2003 at 10:52PM
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Thanks - I'm somewhat relieved I solved the problem, now what do I do ?

Contact my insurance company?
Contract the Contractors Resource Board (the state dispute resolution agency) and file a claim ?
File a complaint with the city inspector ?

Today I am putting a dehumidifier up there and am going to babysit (empty) it all day.

Thanks again...*SIGH*

    Bookmark   January 27, 2003 at 7:03AM
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Update - dehumidifier didn't help. probably because the problem isn't humidity but moisture.

Contractor, HVAC people, painters, and home inspection came by today. (I guess they all know I'm a trial lawyer... ;-)

The HVAC guy fixed the flue. The contractor agreed to replace all of the insulation, apply a mildew agent (k-14?) to the entire attic and scrub it in (once the wood dries out a bit), bleach our ceiling stains, apply a Kilz-type agent, repaint the ceiling, and repaint all of the walls in the color of our choice. I am also going to insist that he check the sheetrock and replace as needed.

The town's building inspector was floored at the problem and to his credit, agreed to come by tomorrow to check out the situation.

My wife called our doctor who suggested we come in for CO blood test given the severity and length of our exposure (sure would explain our collective nausea, headaches and neck aches). We'll see what those results are. I hope the results are good (for our sake and the builder's sake).

Please let me know if you have any further advice or things to watch for. Thanks...

    Bookmark   January 27, 2003 at 7:55PM
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Wow! It is a good thing you caught that. Don't you have CO2 detectors in your house? If not you should definitely consider installing some. They would have picked up on increased levels of the CO2.

Glad to hear your contractor is taking responsibility for your situation. Send him the Drs. bill too!Good luck!


    Bookmark   January 27, 2003 at 8:53PM
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Brian -
CO! Probably ...if you all felt like you had "the flu" for a while. The good news is that CO poisoning goes away quickly when the source is fixed, and has no lasting effects.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2003 at 9:51PM
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Thanks folks - Yes, we do have CO detectors, but then again, the same contractor who installed that flue also installed the CO detectors, so my confidence level isn't that high. I pushed the test button last night and it seemed to be working properly, but as far as I know, there's no way to test a detector to see if it's working to detect CO.

It appears that only after several hours of being fixed, the wettest boards near the flue were beginning to dry considerably. This is good news. What's unfortunate is that it's -1 today, so I doubt much drying will take place over the next few days. We have some frost on the decking this morning.

I was told that I shouldn't be too concerned about mold because by the time the attic warms up enough to promote aggressive mold growth, most of the moisture will be gone. That being said, I know it only takes a little bit of mold to be a problem.

My biggest concern now is that the water seeped down our walls and we're not seeing any stains due to the sheetrock, paint, etc. Is there a way for them to easily replace the insulation in those walls and/or inspect them from the attic via flashlight ?

lazygardens - yes, that's exactly what our doctor told us yesterday, too, but the fact that this problem could have explained everything we have been feeling makes me livid. I am not "sue happy" by any means, but still...

Thanks for the thoughts and comments...I really appreciate them.

Does anyone have any thoughts on my concern of the moisture in the walls? That's really the only major concern I have right now. I don't want to develop a mold problem in a year or two. Is there a way to cheaply test/monitor for mold (i.e. in 6 months-12 months or so?)


    Bookmark   January 28, 2003 at 8:17AM
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If it were mine I would feel better if the dry wall contractor came back and cut out a plug or two a few inches down from the ceiling in a outside wall near the problem area to check for wet insulation. I can't think of a way this can be examined from the attic. Your contractor or dry wall people may have some thoughts though. It sounds as if they are willing to work with you on this.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2003 at 1:11PM
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Yes, they are willing to work with me so far, which is good.

I just got off the phone with a company that specializes in hurricane cleanup (i.e. room and home drying), and they're going to give me a quote. It's $150 for the visit and then a square footage charge after that. I already put the builder on notice that I expect him to pay that.

The building inspector is also doggedly on my behalf, too, which is good.

Thanks again

    Bookmark   January 28, 2003 at 1:48PM
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I live in a new development with a homeowner's association. The owner of our management company made a suggestion for all problems discovered while under the homeowners warrantee that comes with the purchase of a new home.

File a report with the insurance company underwriting the warrantee. This is an insurance policy that the builder has to pay for and claims against him affect his future rates. If you go on record with the warrantee company the builder more likely to make sure you are satisfied quickly.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2003 at 1:31PM
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Do not sign anything ( but if your a lawyer you know that..) as water damage to sheetrock can take a year to dry out and also lift the paint.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2003 at 7:15AM
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