Problems With an Old Leaky Roof

Answered by Jeffrey ~ March 30, 2010 ~ Comments

Our home is 18 yrs old and we recently began having big problems with leaking roof. When a roofer went to look he was surprised that there wasn't any paper between the plywood and the shingles. Is this typical? How can I find out if it's a code violation? Can I take this up with the builder? We have had small leaking or roofing problems in the eight years we've lived here. This last damage that took shingles off the roof has really caused the on going problem of not being able to find a competent roofer who can permanently fix the problem. Also, all the problems occur over the garage area not the higher area of the rest of the house.

Sherry ~ Memphis, Tennessee

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Sherry, That is pretty amazing! I would not want to speculate on what codes were in place in Memphis, Tennessee 18 years go, but I will say that I have been in the construction business for almost 30 years, and I don't recall being involved in, or even seeing any homes being shingled without felt paper during that time period. I admit my memory isn't as good as it used to be, but I think something like that would have stood out, as it would have been so out of the ordinary. For one thing, it is in the roofing contractor and builder's best interest to use felt, as they have to stand behind the function of the roof, and it's not like roofing felt is expensive. And it doesn't matter what part of the house it is, it all should have felt.

Even if you are able to find the builder after 18 years, I think you would have a tough time getting any action out of them. I'm surprised the original owners didn't make an issue out of it, as it should have leaked during that first 10 years. I would say that the shingles are nearing the end of their life expectancy anyway, they are probably 20 or 25 year shingles. At this point the best thing to do might be to find a reputable roofing contractor, and have the home re-shingled. Your local Memphis building department might be able to tell you what codes were being used 18 years ago, and they can probably also give you the names of some reliable roofing contractors.

If you are on a tight budget, you might want to just have the garage area done, but the shingles are not going to match, and it's just a matter of time until you have leaks in the other parts of the home. Even if there is felt there, the shingles are probably in need of replacement.

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