Roof leak but NO Attic Access

SJR_NJApril 18, 2011

After heavy gust wind rain last Saturday, I noticed at corner of my 2nd floor room leaks water on the ceiling around heat air vent mostly. My home is a townhouse and

my neighbot had installed roof windows, which is only 2 feet away from the leaky location. The roof is shared, though there is a wall dividing their and my unit under the roof. I had no trouble like this before, so I am suspicious of their window installation as the cause. My troubles are

(1) My townhouse does not have access to the attic, unless I poke a big hole on the ceiling for someone to get in. Is there any way I can accees the potential leaky area under the roof??

(2) There is one possible way to reach that leaky area from the other side of attic, where there is some space below the roof (with lots of supporting wood beams across). I thought I might just crawl across about 20 feet, but I am not certain if this is a good idea, since the ceiling panel might not be so strong enough to support my weight. Do you think this approach dangerous?

(2) If the leak seems come from my neighbor's new window work, how do I deal with it? I just moved to US a year ago, and am not sure what a proper steps should be like. Do I hire some roof repair handyman and get a professional's statement that the leak is coming from their new window?

After all, how would I figure out that the leak is "definitely" coming from their side of the roof in this townhouse structure, where two units share the roof?

I'd appreciate for your suggestions!

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It sounds like you have trusses, thus the "lots of supporting wood beams across."

The ceiling will NOT hold your weight (it is likely 1/2 inch drywall).

You need to keep your feet on the lower truss cord, and even then you may create some drywall cracks depending on how heavy you are.

If it is hard to get around in the attic, just cut a hole adjacent to the register large enough to at least get your head in to look around.

It is not that hard to fix drywall.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 9:27AM
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If you have a closet on the 2nd floor, hire a handyman to make you an access. Out here they are required. Tracing leaks can be as simple as tracking water stains or as involved as having someone water down areas of the roof to try and spot seeping while in the attic. If you dont feel confident about being up there in the attic, a reputable handyman can help you out. Ask around for referalls to find someone decent.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 12:39PM
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Thanks for all your valuable comments. Could you please offer
me further suggestions?
The water leak dried off the ceiling but I still see water leak of darker color on side wall near the corner.
Does this mean that the panels of wall and ceiling should also be replaced in addition to finding and fixing the water leak above it?
Also, when I fix it (or had it fixed by handyman), how should I block the water dripping from my neighbor side to my side? Some sealant would suffice or should I put some extra structure put on?
Many thanks again!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 2:23PM
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It sounds like the neighbors "roof windows", I'm assuming skylights, weren't flashed properly. It is your neighbors responsibility to fix the leaks if you find that is where the problem lies. Get together with your neighbor on this. Concerning replacing wall/ ceiling panels, probably didn't get wet enough to cause damage enough to replace but will more than likely stain. A good stain blocker/primer after it has dried well followed by two coats matching paint.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 3:49PM
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Stained drywall may need replacement, or at least a stain killing primer and a fresh coat of paint.

If your neighbor is allowing water to enter it is HIS problem to fix, not yours.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 10:12AM
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Since you are new to our country, my thought is to ask you about the type of ownership you have. If you truly own the town home from your curb to the back of the lot, the advice you have gotten above works fine.

However, if the unit is a condominium or co-operative, things are handled differently. In that case, you probably do not fix a roof problem yourself, you would report it to the condo board or manager, or someone like that because in a condo, you only own what is inside your walls, not the structure itself. A cooperative is likely more complicated than a condo.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 11:16PM
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You may need replacements on the drywall so I suggest that you get a handy man or roofer to do this job.

Here is a link that might be useful: Calgary roofing

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 5:47AM
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