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Ed Talks: Winter roof & window leaks: problems & solutions

We’ve brought this post back again by popular demand … The winter season can be very demanding on the exterior of houses and apartment buildings due to leaks from driving rain, ice and snow …

For help in avoiding what can be messy and expensive leakage, review the check-list below for possible problems and solutions before the worst of the winter begins:

1. Window leaks
Most windows leak in two locations, either between the masonry or wood opening and the window frame; or the window frame and the operable part of the window. If a leak is found to be in the former, the best corrective action is to caulk the space on the exterior with sealant recommended by a local supplier for the particular type of wall and window material of your residence. However, if a leak is found to be in the latter, the window manufacturer or installer should be called to fix the window, as it is more likely to be a problem that is inherent in the window itself. For a quick fix, tape the leaking joint with duct tape or tape the space between the moving parts of the window that is leaking with foam

2. Roof leaks
Most roofs leak in three locations: At drains for flat roofs; at gutters and leaders for sloped roofs and at flashing which is where the roof meets the wall; and usually for sloped roofs, at flues or other roof penetrations.

3. Drains, Gutters, Leaders
Usually leaks around a drain occur because the drain is stopped up with debris; thus, bi-monthly inspections of roof and terrace drains are particularly important during winter months. The same is true for gutters and leaders with even more importance due to the possibly of ice-damming — the capillary action of water reaching its highest point in either a liquid or solid form.

When ice or snow fills a gutter, any resulting melting water can go over the top of the gutter and back up the roof and penetrate the roofing tiles or shingles. Ice-damming can also occur at flashing points, so it is also important toclean debris, snow and ice from the walls where they hit the roof or terrace, because the melting ice or snow will jump the flashing
and come down the wall into the house at ceiling and walls alike.

Stay Aware
If you stay aware and check those areas listed above, you’ll save yourself a pile of aggravation and $$$ this winter season.

Snoety symbol
BG says: December 21st, 2008 at 5:52 am

could ice dammin result in a leak of the window casing? I woke up at 3am to the sound of water dripping and running. Got up and looked and saw that the paint had cracked open at the top of the casing and water was dripping in. It is about 16 degrees out right now…not sure if it could be the roof (there is some ice hanging off the gutters…or if it is the window structure itself.

Harriett says: December 22nd, 2008 at 1:11 pm

According to Ed Mills, the architect who wrote this post:

Yes, ice damming can occur anywhere that ice occurs and melts; the principal is the same. Water seeks its own level.

Harriett says: December 25th, 2008 at 3:15 pm

From BG above:
Thank you for your comment. I had a contractor over to look at it and he said that it was the way the wind had blow the snow behind the window frame/molding outside. He said it was not the roof…good news…and that it would stop leaking soon. It did within a few hours luckily. We had driving rain last night and nothing leaked so I am keeping my fingers crossed that he was right.

Thanks for letting us know,

bobbie says: July 2nd, 2009 at 7:43 pm

I have a leak in my sunroom, in the roof and down the inside of the window. The pitch on the roof does not seem at a deep enough slant. How can I fix this problem. We had a new roof installed 3 years ago which seemed to stop the problem til now. Rubber roofing was used plus shingles on top. This problem seem to be worst in the winter …we get lots of snow in this part of the country.

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