Sandy got me all wet
October 29, 2012 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Sandy's dropped almost 3 inches here already. Our roof (over 22 yrs old, original, already had quotes to replace it in the past 2 weeks) decided to leak. So I'm looking for general knowledge/hints/tips on fixing things after a roof leak.

We will obviously be replacing the roof.

I've got a bucket under the drip. The water marks on the drywall span about 3 feet long, maybe 2 inches wide except for the drip area.

The leak is in the bonus room ceiling (room above garage), house is ranch style. So access to the attic area is possible, just tight. Leak is at the joint of the ceiling and the 45-degree wall that follows the roof pitch (between/connecting the knee-wall and the ceiling), so the water stain/marks seem to follow the drywall seam :/

So what do I do when all is said and done ? Cut out and patch/replace the drywall ? Should I replace insulation in the attic ? Do I need to ventilate anything ?
posted by k5.user to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Get the wall checked out, too. I'd get fans on it asap to dry out the walls as soon as possible. I've got a similar leak (down a cracked wall). I've not yet replaced my seam drip but I expect it will be cut around the seam to cut out the area that is affected, patched and seamed up right.

Not sure about the insulation; haven't torn open my ceiling yet ...
posted by tilde at 11:00 AM on October 29, 2012

Cut as much of the drywall away as you feel comfortable replacing and ventilate the hell out of all of it as best you can. You don't want any mold grabbing a moldy little foothold.
posted by jquinby at 11:02 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Punch a hole where it is dripping *now*, so that it can get out more easily without pooling, so that less drywall gets wet, so it is less likely to weaken and fall.

Alternately, find a wet drywall location as close to the leak as you can, and punch a hole in it there, *now*, while it is still raining. The idea is to prevent even minor pooling, which will saturate the paper on the drywall and reduce its strength enough so it could fall down.

I am assuming that you are going to get at least a day of rain like this.
posted by the Real Dan at 11:11 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Watch out for mildew, mold, and the foundation.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:14 AM on October 29, 2012

Yeah, seconding what everyone has said. Cut out the drywall/insulation now and make sure that you're controlling the flow of water. You should be able to tell if it's started to trickle down the walls or run else where. Get the moisture under control and minimize the impact of this. Put something under the drip to catch water for now. Ventilate.

The water probably has pooled on the drywall before soaking through, so you may end up cutting pretty wide. Start small at the worst point and work your way out.

Once the storm has passed you can worry about actually replacing things.

You don't necessarily need to replace the insulation if you can convince it to dry out properly. Drywall will need to be replaced; cut out the affected area, and then widen your hole to reach the joists. Let everything dry out, screw new drywall to joists, mud, tape, etc. You do not want to do any of this until your roof is fixed. Fix the roof, observe through a couple good storms, THEN patch the ceiling and replace insulation.

I get the feeling that there will be a TON of these questions on the internet in coming weeks. A few things to keep in mind: If you can do it yourself, do, prices are going to skyrocket. Materials may also get expensive, but the most urgent steps don't require anything, so you're okay for now.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:28 AM on October 29, 2012

As an aside, in the next few weeks it will be nigh on impossible to get a roofer to come to your house unless the entire thing has blown off...and even then it'll be iffy. Mitigate the current damage as much as possible and also try to find some way to prevent additional damage; maybe a tarp on the roof once the winds die down.

Good luck.
posted by cooker girl at 11:48 AM on October 29, 2012

The leak is running along the rafters and damaging the rest of your walls and ceiling. The advice to punch a hole and put a bucket under it is 'contractor approved'. Minimize the damage until the storm passes and you can get your roof replaced and any damp sheet rock removed. There will probably be a lot of damage in the wake of Sandy's winds, and great competition to hire trades people. Can you sign up someone reliable now? Stay safe and good luck to you.
posted by Cranberry at 12:16 PM on October 29, 2012

Yep - when my ceiling leaked after we got nailed with heavy rain from the remnants of a hurricane, I was told by my contractors to drill a hole up through where the leak was to prevent more damage to surrounding areas until it could be fixed. So this is sound advice.
posted by zug at 12:21 PM on October 29, 2012

I would also second the fans for now, but also look into renting a dehumidifier when you can get out to a contractor store or whatnot. I looked at a couple different places online, different states, and it's gonna be around 35/day (about 15gal per day per unit).

One hell of a lot faster than waiting for stuff to dry on its own, and should hopefully pull enough out of the air to diminish your chances of fun mold adventures (especially if, as mentioned above, you've already got some drain holes punched in the walls, which should help get the moisture out from inside).

I tend to go on at length, so if you skim over most of this (don't blame you), the major takeaway would be the dehumidifier. Mold and rot are your biggest enemies; the rest of it, as long is the roof is fixed, is cosmetic in comparison.

also, a few educational bits if you haven't played with drywall/insulation before:
1. roof insulation, by code and good sense, is those solid foamy things (the fluffy wall insulation traps too much moisture and rots out your roof). If its just the fluffy bats on the floor of the attic, that's fine, but...
2. the more dirt, mold, etc. that gets trapped in your fluffy insulation, the less well it works. Any of it that was in the direct path of the leak should be replaced; you might be able to salvage some of the rest of it if it dries out fast enough
3. Drywall is only as strong as the paper around it. If that's peeling off, very likely the whole panel will have to be replaced (it wicks pretty good). Bald drywall crumbles pretty easily if the tension in the paper isn't holding it together.
4. if you've never mudded and taped before, your first few seams will look awful. If you care about aesthetics, practice on less obvious parts before you get to anything that people will look at.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 2:15 PM on October 29, 2012

Also, as far as the roof itself goes? As soon as you can make it to your local DIY store, buy a few tubes of BlackJack or comparable sealant, and a pack of asphalt shingles, if you can.

If there are actual visible HOLES in your roof, slapping a few windproof patches on is going to get you a little farther than a tarp will (even if they don't blow off, they just need to blow UP for rain to get driven into them).
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 2:17 PM on October 29, 2012

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