I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in and stops my mind from wandering...
October 19, 2007 9:10 PM   Subscribe

Its midnight on Friday. My roof is leaking. Its supposed to rain all weekend. My house is 3 1/2 stories and the leaky part of the (gabled, Queen Anne-style) roof is not easily or safely accessible to without special equipment that I don't have. Assuming that I'm not going to be able to get anyone to fix this before Monday at the earliest, is there anything I can do to to at least mitigate the damage?

Right now the roof is leaking is leaking into an inaccessible crawlspace above the front bedroom. I don't have a ladder tall enough to see what is really going on in the crawlspace (I can just barely poke my head up into the space on the indoor ladder we have and the "floor" isn't solid enough to walk or crawl on), but there is a spreading water stain and damp spot on the (drywall) ceiling of the room - the stain is damp and spreading but its not dripping (yet).

Ideally I'd like to throw a tarp over the leaky spot in the roof once it becomes light, but since I've had a string of professional roofers turn down my reroofing job because the pitch of my roof is too steep, I'm thinking its not safe for us to go up there (even if we had a 30 foot plus ladder, which we don't).

Can anyone think of any other options? Or should I resign myself to watching the bedroom ceiling slowly cave in over the weekend? (I'm having trouble getting roofers to even come give me estimates on my $10+ roofing repair - I feel like I have no hope of anyone coming over the weekend.)
posted by anastasiav to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Punch a hole in the ceiling through the area that is now stained and waterlogged. You may need to replace this section anyway, and a hole would would ostensibly provide direct access to the leak, or at least provide you with a better view of it. Then you can catch the water, or plug the hole from the inside.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:13 PM on October 19, 2007

You may be able to pitch a baseball with parachute cord over the ridge of the roof and haul up a tarp.
posted by hortense at 9:27 PM on October 19, 2007

Go and get yourself a ladder that will allow you to see what is happening in the crawlspace - maybe you can lay some tarp in there to channel the leak into a container?

Also seconding the idea of punching a hole through the already wet area. Utilize stud finder and common sense to avoid any accidents.
posted by roygbv at 9:28 PM on October 19, 2007

Best answer: The classic roof leak quick fix is to attach a string to a nail and "capture" the leak so it flows along the string into a bucket or outside someplace.

Also, there are spray-on emergency sealers that you could use if you rent a ladder tomorrow. They won't last, but they will probably last until you can get a roofer.

For a 19th century building it's unusual to have a drywall ceiling with no joists. Are you sure you couldn't crawl back there somehow? Maybe use some boards to create a temporary platform? There's not a lot you can do to fix the leak from beneath the sheathing, but you might be able to protect the drywall from further damage with buckets or the string method.
posted by dhartung at 9:40 PM on October 19, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas so far. We're working on punching a hole right now.

For a 19th century building it's unusual to have a drywall ceiling with no joists.

I live in a Sears kit house, circa 1916. There are lots of odd construction shortcuts, made worse by some incompetent renovations in the 1950's. The leak is actually in the turret over the bedroom (the room sort of sticks out over the porch) and the valley where the turret attaches to the rest of the roof makes a space less than a foot high that blocks our access to the inside of the turret-roof itself.

With the rain and blustery wind I'm really widgy about anyone going up 30 feet on a ladder (rented or otherwise), at least until the rain stops.

Good ideas so far though ... keep 'em coming!
posted by anastasiav at 9:50 PM on October 19, 2007

Can you find some sort of funnel, long piping, or flange that could be slid up the outside of the roof (so you don't have to climb up there in the rain, ick!), covering the hole/leak and would reroute a large portion of the rain water? Or better yet (it is windy outside, after all), place the water funneling device* indoors, angled directly under the leak and touching the inside of the roof so that the water runs down it (probably running down on both sides of it. The floor end of the pipe would be resting in a bucket).

Maybe those ideas were totally whack. But I do feel your frustration! Please post an update to this thread once things return to normal and you are all cozy and warm in your bed, staring up at a fresh, watertight ceiling!

*If you have the type of clothes dryer where the "exhaust" is a series of large, flexible metal piping that routes air outdoors, you could break it down and use the pieces to stick up in the crawlspace and reroute the water.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:07 PM on October 19, 2007

where the water is pooling on your ceiling may be quite far away from where the actual leak is on the roof, depending upon how the water travels once it gets through the roof surface (asphalt?)...

though it sounds like you have a large leak...

good luck.
posted by geos at 6:32 AM on October 20, 2007

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