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Sneaky water is sneaky
*Sigh*. I really didn't need this right now.

I had *thought* that I was doing okay, roof-wise -- a small leak in the bay window due to the ice dam there, but no other signs of trouble. I knew that there were a few ice dams elsewhere, but thought that they weren't causing too much melt. I *have* been worried about roof collapse, but not too much about leakage, since there is no sign of dripping through the roof itself. Naive me.

I just discovered that the ceiling of the guest bedroom is totally trashed -- I walked in there to put something away, found the floor wet, a steady single drop dripping, and a mild but dangerous bulge in the ceiling. So I followed the advice from the TV yesterday: I put a (big) bucket in the desired location, grabbed an awl, and punched several holes in the drywall. A good gallon came through in the first couple of minutes.

There *still* is no apparent drip in the attic, so my best guess is that the ice dam is causing leakage right at the edge of the house, down by the soffits -- instead of going over the edge, it's flowing inward, and finally pooling about five feet into the room.

Pain in the tuchus. The ceiling is clearly a loss, so for now I'm just punching holes as needed and accepting that I'll need to replace it come spring. In the meantime, I dearly hope nothing else breaks horribly...
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Good thing you noticed it. A controlled failure is better than uncontrolled.

If/when it becomes time, there are very good membranes that get put under shingles these days, that stop water from getting into the roof if ice dams happen. Our roof is steel with that stuff under it, and the steel results in no ice dams; suspenders and a belt! Some folks go with steel margins and then normal roof shingles further up - a lower cost hybrid that also solves the problem.

Oh: And Lowell's wife is in the biz, and he posted elsewhere that roof collapse is the failure mode for flat roofs; pitched roofs fail via ice dams and leaking and only rarely rarely by collapse. This reassured us.

Edited at 2011-02-05 09:02 pm (UTC)

Yeah, intellectually I know that a roof collapse is unlikely, although the pitch on mine is shallow enough that I can't quite completely convince myself of that. But it had never occurred to me that I'd get an ice dam in that location, and indeed I don't know *why* it has dammed so badly there, but going out and looking, the damned thing's close to a foot thick, right at the corner of the house.

Useful food for thought on the roof; thanks. I'm probably due for re-roofing sometime in the next few years anyway, so I'll keep that in mind...

I think our roofs are a 30-degree pitch. 45 would be more sensible, alas.

There's been a few collapses of pitched roofs down here, unfortunately. Those seem to be failing when the walls can't take it and buckle enough outwards to let the roof fall in. I've got a one to one rise, so we seem to be fine.

Oh, dear. Although them calling failure of walls a "roof collapse" seems a little erroneous.

True, but the effect is pretty much the same: too much snow causes the roof to fall down on you. The physics are a little different, but I suspect most people don't care...


Btw, saw elsewhere the suggestion of filling an old sock with ice melt and throwing it up on the roof where it will settle in the ice-dam lake and help melting proceed faster. As it will be quite warm today, you might want to give this a try on your bad spots.

Well, if you decide to DIY it, I've sadly become fairly decent at ceiling drywall patching. I've got a largish patch in the downstairs bathroom from the installation of the new fan that I just haven't gotten around to yet.

Thanks, although I think this is more "replace" rather than "patch". There are two obviously water-damaged sections, and the larger one is well over a yard square. So I'll probably call in professional help. (Fortunately, we have a few handyman/carpenters in and around the local SCA...)

Fortunately, we have a few handyman/carpenters in and around the local SCA...

Yup. I can give you a quote the next time I'm over.

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Useful to know -- it honestly hadn't even occurred to me to call the insurance company until now. (My stepmother Sandy also just pointed that out.) Thanks. (And yes, I do remember your ice dam, now that you mention it.)

And yes, I was figuring on giving him a call once things have settled down sufficiently: I kind of assumed that ceilings were in his skill set...

Ugh. Better to deal with it now when you can semi-control it than later, but it still sucks that you have to deal with it at all. :-(

Apparently there's an ice dam in the house I'm living in and my father is worrying about it and calling out contractors to fix it. (There's a long, dramatic story involved in the discovery of said ice dams because my cousins noticed them and didn't tell anyone about it. I had noticed the water but not realized what it meant or what an ice dam was.) While he was calling contractors and complaining over the emergency it represented, I pointed out that it could be much worse and held your ceiling up as an example. His response was "Wow, that guy is not having a good year."

Ouch. At least you caught it before it became a minor disaster. Many years ago, when I was renting a small house, the roof over the kitchen developed a leak and I was lucky enough that it pooled on the ceiling right above the sink.

That happened to the house I grew up in. The interior dining room ceiling collapsed while all around it was fine. Turned out to be a horizontal leak/seepage that found a low spot.

Fortunately, I caught it before it hit the collapse point. Dumb luck, I have to say -- if it'd gone another six hours, it probably *would* have collapsed, and that would have caused significantly more hassle and damage. By relieving the pressure now, I *think* I've limited the damage to just replacing the drywall.

(And yesterday appears to have been warm enough to relieve the ice dam problem, at least for now -- it doesn't seem to be dripping any more...)

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