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Back Roof Project

Back Roof (Winter 2010)

the problem

There is a persistent leak where the back roof joins the fascia, especialy over the back door. The roof is also wavy and does not drain well, as shown in the photo at left.

the leaky gutter

The roof in the back of the house has been leaky since before I bought the house. The roof leaks along the edge, where it is joined by the drip edge and fascia. It was not done very well, and I can see the water leak out a hole in the fascia. The water also pours from the poorly attached gutter every time it rains.

I tried to fix this by installing a new gutter in the late spring of 2009. Yes, it was vinyl, and I was aware of how weak vinyl is in heavy snow. But the gutter held up under heavy ice during the past winter, so I figured it was okay.

What was not okay, however, was that the gutter did not stop the leaks. It sagged in the middle, where I could not find any wood to attach the gutter bracket. There was no wood behind the metal fascia. In the end I had to buy another length of downspout pipe to hold up that part of the gutter.

the decaying fascia

To that I can add the chips of rotted wood that fall out from behind the fascia at the sag point. I had thought, when I first saw the wood back in the fall after I bought the house, that the chips were mulch. No: They are out of the house itself, I realized, showing why I could not attach the gutter to the fascia there.

the effects of the leak

My efforts to seal the roof, to keep the water from getting inside, were futile. And nothing proved it more than when I hacked out a dark, damp section of drywall over my back door to find the damp wood underneath — crawling with ants! I painted the wood with pepper to kill the ants, sealed the hole with spackling and a double layer of drywall netting, and painted over the sealed hole.

But that has not even stopped the ants from coming in, especially the winged ants who are obviously queens looking to set up new hives in my house!

There was nothing else for it: I needed professional help for my back roof.

handy randy

So, after talking to Madre, who recommended someone called Handy Randy, and to the secretary at the local paper, who vouched for him, I gave Handy Randy a call. This gentleman is a general repairman who works out of Jonesboro, north of where I live. On the third week of May he looked over my roof and revealed why my new back gutter was futile: The drip edge was higher than the roof, causing water to pool behind it and leak into the roof.

what needed to be done

The gentleman gave me the following estimate.

The estimate was more than twice the money I spent on the data conduit project. I did have that amount in the savings account of my local bank, so payment was no problem. After having run the estimate by my folks and discussed a home-repair loan with my Muncie bank (just in case), I signed off on the estimate after the first of June.

Back Roof (July 2010)

the new back roof

After a month's wait (Handy Randy was very busy), the replacement of my back roof began. The gentleman and two laborers arrived at eight in the morning and got to work tearing off the shingles. I was amazed at how easily the shingles came off. I know the shingles are nailed on, but any strong wind could have left me with no roof at all.

The removal of the shingles and the underlying board was revealing:

I suspected the lack of insulation under the back roof. Even before I bought the house, I could tell how fast the snow melts on the back roof. I approved the buying and installing of insulation between the rafters, now that they are open.

As for the under-rafter rot, it is evident that the back wall of the house will need to be replaced. But, barring a lottery win, that is a project for another year.

It was amazing to me that the back roof was complete after one working day. Only the new metal gutter needed to be installed the next morning.

Written by Andy West on 2 July 2010