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Need Advice on a Leaky Roof

About 5 years ago my wife and I had a new roofing system installed, which included Grace Ice & Water Shield 6 feet up from the roof's eaves. Our roof has recently begun leaking, due to the formation of ice dams causing water to back up around the eaves and somehow snaking it's way into the top of a bow window, where it then drips through cracks and onto the windowsill.

I contacted the contractor who installed the roofing system, suggesting to them I thought there was a hole in the Ice & Water shield, and he said that Grace Ice & Water Shield is not perfect and that in certain situations the membrane can be overwhelmed and the water can penetrate the membrane.

This sounds fishy to me. This fishy feeling was furthered by the fact that the contractor said he would help us out by installing - practically at cost - a continuous soffit vent under the eave of the leaky side of the roof.

Does anyone here have knowledge about Grace Ice & Water Shield? Can it really become overwhelmed?

Re: Need Advice on a Leaky Roof

Hi, If you are getting ice dams then you have a bigger problem. All your heat is getting into the attic. You can stop the heat loss into the attic or vent the heat that is getting into the attic to the outside. Thanks

Re: Need Advice on a Leaky Roof

Your roofer is telling the truth, Ice and Water shield is not the end-all-be-all protection from ice dam related leaks. It can stop a lot of them but can still be overwhelmed or fail under certain conditions even when installed correctly. The only way I might guess he could be at fault is if the drip edge went on before the ice and water when it should have been the reverse and you could trace the leak to the very edge of the roof. Otherwise, this is just one of those things.

There have after all been record cold temps in much of the country this year, often with frequent, close together snow events followed by multiple freeze/thaw cycles. A lot of regions are seeing weather they haven't experienced in decades, if ever, so stuff like this is going to happen. It's very possible conditions were just right for the water to get past the ice and water shield. He is offering to improve your roof ventilation because this will increase the chances of stopping ice dams from happening again in the first place. He's doing you a favor, trying to attack the route of the problem, roof ventilation, rather than the symptom, the ice dam and resulting leak.

What I would guess he's also trying to do is communicate to you in a nice way without having to come right out and say it that this situation does not warrant a free repair under the terms of your contract. And so any solution you agree on is going to cost you some money. Let me ask a question: did he offer you the soffit vents when he did your roof 5 years ago? If so what did you say?

Re: Need Advice on a Leaky Roof

Thanks for your replies, folks!

eman: I don't remember if we were offered soffit vents when the roof was installed. I've known this and getting more insulation are things we should do, though. I was under the impression Grace Ice & Water Shield was virtually impenetrable, but I guess I'm wrong.

Re: Need Advice on a Leaky Roof

At this point, 5 years after installation, you are very lucky to have the roofer respond to you and offer you vents at cost. No roofer that I know of, will give 5 year warranty on labor or vents at cost.

It will also be hard to prove that the shield was at fault.

You are probably on your own for the drywall repairs.

Re: Need Advice on a Leaky Roof

ICE and Water is really only a 'backup' system, a secondary line of protection. They only started using it regularly in the last 25 or 30 years. Before that they had other ways of preventing ICE Dams, the main method being doing a better job of designing and building roofing systems.

Re: Need Advice on a Leaky Roof
eman wrote:

Before that they had other ways of preventing ICE Dams, the main method being doing a better job of designing and building roofing systems.

I've mentioned this very thing in another thread. The Grace product is a good one and as far as I know impervious to water itself, but with any shingle roofing, you penetrate everything under that shingle to attach it, so there must be some potential for leakage with all those holes being made. If you believe that this problem will recur, take your roofer up in his offer; it's a very generous one. And you might want to have him do all the horizontal eaves while he's there- soffit vents are excellent at what they do and they will extend the life of your roof substantially, especially if there's a ridge vent.


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