My new roof is leaking (I think). Who do I call first?
October 30, 2013 3:49 AM   Subscribe

My roof was replaced a year ago, due to hail, paid for by my insurance company and performed by a local contractor. This morning, in heavy rain, I see fresh water-tracks down a wall of my bathroom. I'm not sure who to call, or how to get all my ducks in a row prior to calling.

This is a two-story house, and the new job is 30-year dimensional shingles (I sprung for an upgrade over the flat shingles which were there). The replacement was done very slightly over a year ago (early October, 2012). I have two turbine attic vents, which were also replaced at the time. What I saw this morning were two thin tracks as if a drop had, previously, rolled down the wall -- they were freshly damp, but there was no ongoing flow.

I have a couple of specifics I want to make sure about:

(1) Is this necessarily roof leakage? I'm absolutely sure the water is coming from outside --- this is a second-story bathroom and it hadn't been used yet that morning, so plumbing and condensation couldn't account for it, but I'm wondering how much rain can/will come in to even a properly installed turbine vent (I look at this question and I see that certainly an incompetent install can increase the amount coming in). If it's not roof leakage, what can/should I do about it?

(2) If it is a leaky roof, who do I call first? The contractor? The insurance company? Some other third party I don't even know about? And what information should I have on hand? I already took a quick photo. This is in Kentucky, for the reference of any state-specific laws/procedures.
posted by jackbishop to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
What are the wall and ceiling surfaces in this room made of? In a typical plaster/drywall painted room, water droplets would have to either find a crack to dribble through, or saturate a fairly large area before water actually started dripping. Is the house new enough to have drywall, or is it real plaster or something else? If it's drywall, is the ceiling above the droplets at all soft and squishy? How long had it been raining when you noticed this?

Did anyone shower last night? You're obviously experiencing some humid weather, and it looks like temperatures in Louisville are still high enough that you're probably not running the furnace yet, so it's likely to be humid indoors as well. In cool, humid conditions, it can take quite a while for water droplets to fully evaporate.
posted by jon1270 at 4:20 AM on October 30, 2013

Also, how far are the turbine vents from the damp area? Were the droplets on an exterior wall?
posted by jon1270 at 4:25 AM on October 30, 2013

Nobody showered last night, and the wall is an interior wall and is drywall, I believe (the walls downstairs are plaster, but the upstairs walls are more recent). The ceiling has some bubbles in the paint, but no squishiness in the ceiling materia itself. Not sure how long it had been raining; I noticed it when I woke, and it had been raining during the night. One of the turbine vents is very nearly directly above the affected area.
posted by jackbishop at 4:31 AM on October 30, 2013

Okay, with the proximity of the vent, the interior wall and the bubbled paint, it does sound like water coming in through the vent. This would be most likely if the rain came packaged with a lot of wind. You might need a different type of vent. Were there similar turbine vents in place before the roof replacement, or was this the contractor's choice? If he was just reproducing what was there before, you're probably on your own for correcting this. But if the contractor chose these vents then I'd probably start by calling them, and move on to the insurer if you don't get a quick and helpful response.
posted by jon1270 at 4:41 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

This - and also windows / gables that may be near by. It may be coming down there but that may be where it pools.
posted by tilde at 5:00 AM on October 30, 2013

Call the contractor.

I am a contractor (though not a roofer). No one can diagnose the problem on the internet. You need someone with knowledge and experience to look at the problem.

If you call the insurance company first, you might be unfairly hurting the contractor. Insurance companies refer work to many contractors, and if the insurance company has a problem, they will likely not use that contractor again.

Let the contractor look at it. Give him the chance to correct it, if it is his problem.
posted by Flood at 5:09 AM on October 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

You should call your insurance company first. My auto insurance company guarantees repairs for as long as I own the car if I use one of their recommended shops. I've never filed a home owners claim so I don't know if something similar exists, but it would be worth the 10 minutes it'll take to make the call.
posted by COD at 5:53 AM on October 30, 2013

Contractor and insurance company.

Cover all your bases.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:56 AM on October 30, 2013

Call the contractor first, because they're the ones who know about the roof. The insurance only needs to come into it if there's anything to be paid for.
posted by aimedwander at 6:24 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Definitely contact the contractor. Hopefully, you kept any paperwork from the repair. Hopefully, there's some sort of expressed warranty. And, hopefully, the contractor's a stand-up guy.

That said, the repair is a year old and that allows a ton of weasel-room for him to get out of making any repairs on his dime. He could site "new damage", for instance. He could site a failure in the materials (not the installation itself). Contractors, if they warranty anything, tend to back-up only their work, and not the materials.

So...Maybe you actually should contact your insurance agent first, and describe the problem and ask how best to proceed. They may actually want to send their own guy out to inspect the problem, to determine if this is a failure of the original repair, or new damage.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:07 AM on October 30, 2013

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