Who’ll Stop The Rain? Me, That’s Who!

When we bought our home over a decade ago, we noticed that there were a couple of discolored areas on the kitchen and laundry room ceilings, where the laundry room joins the rest of the house. We figured that they were due to an old roof issue, and since we didn’t have any more problems, we didn’t think anything about it.

Flash forward to two weeks ago. The remnants of Hurricane Harvey move through our area and suddenly the laundry room ceiling start dripping, enough that we have to put a bucket under it. I climb up on the laundry room roof to see what the issue might be, and this is what meets my eyes:

The seal between the laundry room roof and house is completely cracked and corroded, including a large broken area on one of the shingles. Worse yet, no transition flashing at all!

Needless to say, we were somewhat dismayed at the state of the roof. Look how shocked Lizzy was!

Luckily, the shingles themselves were in pretty good condition.

So one week later, after a few YouTube videos, how-to articles, and a trip to Home Depot, I climbed up on the roof to rectify the issue. Let me say first, I am not a professional roofing person. I was merely trying to stop my roof from leaking and causing further damage to my ceiling. But I wanted to fix it correctly – I didn’t want to just slap down some roofing sealant like the last person obviously did.

Also, we are looking to refinance our house in a couple of months. Home values have gone WAY up in our neighborhood. We think we can refinance into a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage and get enough back out to pay off all our other debt. But to do that, we need an appraisal. The more things we have fixed, the better the appraisal will be, and the more high-interest debt we can pay off. So, I wanted to make sure the roof got fixed correctly.

I gathered the following supplies:

  • a pry bar
  • standard screwdriver
  • hammer
  • 1 1/4 inch roofing nails
  • caulk gun
  • roof sealant
  • box of black 3-inch by 7-inch pre-bent aluminum flashing
  • wet rags
  • clear caulk
  • scrub brush

I already had the tools, rags, and caulk. I purchase a new caulking gun, box of flashing, nails, and roof sealant. Total cost of supplies purchased: $50.00.

First, I used the screwdriver, the pry bar, and the hammer to chisel away the old roofing cement from the seam between the laundry room roof and the house shingles, as well as off the surface of the house shingles themselves.

I used the cleaning brush to brush out any debris and grit remaining in the seam.

For those who may not know, the point of flashing is to keep water from infiltrating building seams. So rain/water should travel down the side of the house and on to the roof without getting into the seam between the house and the roof. This is why in house siding and roof shingles, each course overlaps the one directly below it. The flashing creates the transition from house to roof, with the house shingles overlapping the flashing, and the flashing overlapping the roof shingles. Get it?

So, I carefully removed the nails from the course of house shingles along the roof line. The shingles are 100 years old, and made of asbestos, so I really didn’t want to damage them. I slipped the short side of a piece of flashing UNDER the house shingle, and let the long side lay OVER the roof shingles. I then slid another piece next to it, overlapping the ends by a little less than an inch.

When all the flashing was in place, I ran a bead of roofing cement on the underside of the flashing along the back, where the building seam is, as well as along the front of the flashing, to seal it to the roof.

Then I nailed down all the pieces of flashing to the roof with a roofing nail at each overlapped front corner, as well as some extra nails along each end of the flashing run.

I then carefully nailed the nails that I had removed from the house shingles back into the shingles.

Ideally, I should have run a bead of roof sealant along the underside of each top piece of flashing where it overlapped the one next to it, but … I forgot. So instead, I ran a bead along the seams along the top, and along the edge where the flashing met the house shingles, just for good measure. I made extra-sure that the end pieces of flashing were sealed as well. I also put a little dab of roof sealant on the head of each nail that I had removed from the house shingles, as well as each roofing nail. Additionally, I used roof sealant to fill the hole left by the cracked piece of shingle.

Roof sealant it VERY thick, and I had a heck of time working with it, so it’s not pretty job.

BUT it will keep the water out. And that is the important thing.

While I was up there, I noticed a pretty significant crack between the trim and the house shingles. So I got some regular caulk, and caulked the hell out of that as well.

We have only had a little rain so far, so the new flashing has not been truly tested yet. But I am confident that it will do the trick. Once we have verified that the roof leak has indeed been fixed, we can repair the ceiling.

However, I irritated my back during our house painting, and working on the roof, scraping and twisting and bending, pushed it over the edge into full-on injury. I am under doctor’s instructions to rest, and I am taking anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers, as well as undergoing physical therapy. I am under strict instructions not to bend, lift, or twist. So further home repairs are on hold until I am better. But, hey, how often do you have a real excuse to be lazy?

2 thoughts on “Who’ll Stop The Rain? Me, That’s Who!”

    • Thank you! What a wonderful compliment! I love learning new things, and I love the feeling of being able to take care of things myself when I can. There is so much that homeowners can do themselves if they just know how. It’s one of the reasons that I started this blog – just to share my experiences in case it might help anyone else.

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