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Rooftop deck change: why is there a leak now?

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Forum topic by boston_guy posted 02-24-2015 09:13 PM 1344 views 0 times favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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boston_guy

144 posts in 1609 days


02-24-2015 09:13 PM

I’m in a 12-unit, 3-storey condo building. I’m on the top floor and have a rooftop deck that I can access from my kitchen.

Last spring we had a new shingle roof installed. Then in the summer three of the condos that have a rooftop deck got new decks built by the same roofer. Also, below the decks, the roofer installed a new rubber roof.

The photo below shows how the area immediately in front of my deck door looked like before I got the new deck built.

 photo IMG_1934_zps9vshcbjh.jpg

And the photo below shows how the same area looks like after the new deck was built. It was taken during the current crazy snow winter we’ve had in Boston.

 photo IMG_3101_zpsqfy3sawh.jpg

The reason I’m posting this thread is that on Sunday my downstairs neighbor woke me up at 1:30am because he had a leak in his living room. We soon determined that it was coming from the area right in front of my deck door (where there is ice). On Sunday night it was relatively warm and the ice in the gutter above the door and on the floor was melting, and the water gathered in front of my deck door, came up to the level of my deck door threshold, and then found its way into my neighbor’s living room ceiling below me. If my neighbor had not caught the leak, the water would have also entered my kitchen. We placed buckets under the gutter and this stopped the leak into my neighbor’s condo.

My question is this: I have lived in this condo building since 2004. When I had the old deck, I never had this leak issue. What is it about the new deck construction in front of my deck door do you think caused the leak?

Any feedback will be highly appreciated!


35 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

4203 posts in 1659 days


#1 posted 02-24-2015 09:59 PM

Bad install. Contact the condo association and have them fix it since they should be responsible for the exterior maintenance.. I’m assuming that they were the ones who also had the work done? At least that’s the way it works in every condo I’ve lived in and owned. Some have crazy rules/policies though..

Reminds me of a funny story that happened to me a few years ago. I Have a first floor condo, and the bathtub in the second floor unit above us started leaking. Every time they would drain the tub, water would pour down through our bathroom ceiling and down the walls. The condo association came out and agreed to have the repairs done, BUT…. according to the regs, they were responsible for the walls (drywall) and everything inside them (plumbing, wiring, etc..), but nothing that is ‘attached’ to the walls. They agreed to fix the plumbing and our damaged drywall, however, paint and baseboards are considered ‘attached’ to the wall, so I was responsible for re-painting and installing new baseboards!! They actually wound up doing the baseboards anyway, since there was only a couple feet that needed replacing, but I had to do the painting myself. Go figure.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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boston_guy

144 posts in 1609 days


#2 posted 02-24-2015 10:07 PM

Just curious. Why do you say it was a bad install?

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MrUnix

4203 posts in 1659 days


#3 posted 02-24-2015 10:18 PM


Just curious. Why do you say it was a bad install?

LOL.. because if it was a good install, it wouldn’t leak :)

If I had to guess, they probably didn’t do a good job sealing up around the threshold with membrane, but without actually seeing it in person, kind of hard to tell what it might be..

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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boston_guy

144 posts in 1609 days


#4 posted 02-25-2015 12:34 AM

I hear you.

What about the fact that with the new deck I now have no barrier to the left of my door? This means that I’m now getting much more snow running down to the front of my door and later on becoming ice.

But I have a barrier to the right of my door which actually is a problem because it creates a dam. What you cannot see is that to the right of my door, where the deck ends, is a gutter which is now packed with ice that has created yet another barrier, preventing water in front of my door to escape.

Below is a close-up of how much ice formed in front of my door.

 photo IMG_3098_zpsklmjvn6z.jpg

And below is a photo of the gutter to the right of my door where the water was supposed to flow into. As you can see, it was packed with snow and ice, thus preventing water to flow away from the door. In fact, when I took this photo I had already cleared quite a bit of snow and ice with a shovel.

 photo IMG_3092_zpszropbyb2.jpg

View Ghidrah's profile

Ghidrah

667 posts in 682 days


#5 posted 02-25-2015 05:14 AM

Your 1st pic shows the ice up to the threshold that means whatever ice liquefied got under it and began leaking through the subfloor to the ceiling below. It must have been a substantial amount to cause the leak to appear so quickly. If water got under the threshold it likely froze, expanding and likely made the door difficult to open smoothly. That is one old door, wood panel with cracks and wooden threshold

1. What is the depth from the bottom of the threshold to the roof deck? It should be a minimum of 4” to provide a kick and prevent/minimize infiltration.
2. Did the contractor remove the door to install a pan under the door?
3. If so did the contractor run the rubber roof up and over the subfloor?
4. Why did you allow the ice to build up to the threshold?

The deck is framed to the building beside the entry.
1. Did the contractor run the rubber roof up the wall before attaching the box?
2. Anywhere a deck post is placed also needs to be sealed with double the effort and concern.
3. Was a building permit pulled by the condo owner and or contractor?
4. If so was the work inspected by the town?
5. If so was the roofing work inspected prior to the deck construction?

It’s also possible any and all seams under the deck may or may not have been properly sealed which means the leak can be coming from anywhere and running along the ceiling joists to a low spot in the ceiling and pooling.

Without seeing the blue print for the structure by code there should be a bearing wall under that entry, if not the wall, roof deck below and possibly the eave above could be sagging

-- I meant to do that!

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Bobbal

27 posts in 647 days


#6 posted 02-25-2015 01:56 PM

Boston Guy, I used to sell roofing in a building supply. Boston has been hit with two winters worth of snow in about a month. If the gutter drain is iced up the water will back up. It will migrate through any openings where the water would normally roll by. The door could be properly flashed and it still could happen. It also happens on pitched roofs too. We used to recommend wrapping the edge of the roof with ice and water shield and roll it behind the gutter onto the fascia board if possible. That way if the gutter iced up water would not back up into the house as it would be stopped by the ice and water shield. I am assuming the roof surface under the deck is flat (less than a 2 pitch). You need to know what membrane was put down before attempting any kind of repair. Some are EPDM and some asphalt based (called mop down) They are not compatible and you could destroy an EPDM membrane by applying a asphalt based product or flashing cement. With snowfall like you guys have had, the may be no fix other than a drain heater to keep the drains clear.

-- Why measure twice when you can cut twice?

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dhazelton

2322 posts in 1756 days


#7 posted 02-25-2015 02:21 PM

I know there was a ton of snow all at at once, but did you keep it shoveled off? I would say that if ice built up like that on the roof deck that it may not be properly insulated from underneath. Almost everyone around me has huge ice dams and broken gutters. I had my eaves and roof deck insulated with spray foam and I now have zero melting and no more icicles.

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boston_guy

144 posts in 1609 days


#8 posted 02-25-2015 06:02 PM

Photos of doorway after I removed some ice today.

 photo IMG_3105_zpsqcctp7fx.jpg

 photo IMG_3104_zpszqdyxsje.jpg

View Ghidrah's profile

Ghidrah

667 posts in 682 days


#9 posted 02-25-2015 07:01 PM

While it is true ice damming can cause problems, they are problems that take time and require thawing of the ice filling the gutter and backing up. Repeated thaw freeze cycle between gutters and fascia boards will distort the gutter. Most water infiltration occurs do to fascia rot, even then most if not all drains out the soffit when it melts. Ice damming is also known to freeze thaw cycle up between shingles, usually asphalt, then run down to the eave. This can be an issue with unpapered roof decks and rusty roofer nails. Ice /water barrier solves this issue. The shallower the roof pitch the higher up the roof the disruption can travel. However, this does take time to build up, excluding an outright hole in the roof 1 foot up from the eave where rain can pour through it can take 6 mos or more to manifest as a water stain on a ceiling. It takes time to drag the dirt and fine dust through the drywall, compound, paper, primer and paint.

Your threshold is in contact with the roof deck, one of the pics shows a missing section of threshold. Still no mention of whether the door was removed to flash it properly or whether it was permitted and inspected.

It also looks like the base of the deck may be in contact with the roof, this is also bad, friction between to dissimilar materials, flexing and expansion/contraction. One pic shows the wall at the edge of the deck where a gutter may be swamped under snow and ice, there’s a bunch of black spots around the gutter that may be holes exposing the wall behind the siding

-- I meant to do that!

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boston_guy

144 posts in 1609 days


#10 posted 02-25-2015 08:39 PM

Ghidrah,

Thank you very much for your careful feedback. I have tried to answer your questions below.

1) 1”.
2) No.
3) See #2.
4) I did not allow the ice to build up. My neighbor (who has an identical deck, adjacent to mine) and I would always shovel the snow after each snow storm. Our decks are quite big and we did not want the roof to cave in, especially since there are 2 floors below us. We’re on the 3rd floor (the top floor). The condos below us are twice as big so they stretch out further, and our decks on the 3rd floor are on the part that stretches out beyond our condos (if this makes sense). However, a layer of snow would always build up in front of our deck doors, no matter how much we shoveled. In fact, this applied to the whole deck. Keep in mind that when we were asleep, it would often be snowing. When we would wake up, there would be ice in front of our deck doors. This meant we sometimes couldn’t open the screen doors! We would then have to go outside and enter the deck via the fire egress. The leak occurred at 1:30am Sunday morning. When my neighbor called me, we went to the deck door, since that was the only area that could have water. When we opened the door, there was water on the threshold. In fact, it was just about to enter my kitchen. After removing the water from the threshold, we placed buckets under the gutter above the door because the ice dams were melting (it was a relatively warm night). This stopped the leak. Before the leak started the ice in front of the door was just under the door level. I think when the ice dam in the gutter began to melt and leak onto the area in front of the door, it just built up on top of the ice till it got onto the threshold. From the threshold there appears to be a very slim gap on each side of the door framing. I think water entered these two gaps and then went to my neighbor’s living room ceiling. From the ceiling it poured out of the ceiling through a light fixture. He placed a bucket underneath. He told me that altogether there was one inch of water in the bucket.

The funny thing is that I had already bought a new deck door. It was custom ordered. My carpenter was waiting for the snow and ice to melt before installing it. Now I’m going to make sure that this is done very carefully.

The roofer has been notified about the leak and said he will try to swing by today.

Second set of answers:

1. Yes, if I recall correctly (the deck was built this past summer).
2) You did not ask a question.
3) Yes. The contractor is a major roofer in my area. Has a very good reputation.
4) The condo trustees would know.
5) The condo trustees would know.

What I’m trying to understand is why did I not have such a leak during the old deck? What about the construction of the door area back then may have prevented the problem I now have? I have provided photos of the old and new deck above.


Your 1st pic shows the ice up to the threshold that means whatever ice liquefied got under it and began leaking through the subfloor to the ceiling below. It must have been a substantial amount to cause the leak to appear so quickly. If water got under the threshold it likely froze, expanding and likely made the door difficult to open smoothly. That is one old door, wood panel with cracks and wooden threshold

1. What is the depth from the bottom of the threshold to the roof deck? It should be a minimum of 4” to provide a kick and prevent/minimize infiltration.
2. Did the contractor remove the door to install a pan under the door?
3. If so did the contractor run the rubber roof up and over the subfloor?
4. Why did you allow the ice to build up to the threshold?

The deck is framed to the building beside the entry.
1. Did the contractor run the rubber roof up the wall before attaching the box?
2. Anywhere a deck post is placed also needs to be sealed with double the effort and concern.
3. Was a building permit pulled by the condo owner and or contractor?
4. If so was the work inspected by the town?
5. If so was the roofing work inspected prior to the deck construction?

It s also possible any and all seams under the deck may or may not have been properly sealed which means the leak can be coming from anywhere and running along the ceiling joists to a low spot in the ceiling and pooling.

Without seeing the blue print for the structure by code there should be a bearing wall under that entry, if not the wall, roof deck below and possibly the eave above could be sagging

- Ghidrah


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boston_guy

144 posts in 1609 days


#11 posted 02-25-2015 08:40 PM

There is no piece missing in the threshold. It’s just the photo.


While it is true ice damming can cause problems, they are problems that take time and require thawing of the ice filling the gutter and backing up. Repeated thaw freeze cycle between gutters and fascia boards will distort the gutter. Most water infiltration occurs do to fascia rot, even then most if not all drains out the soffit when it melts. Ice damming is also known to freeze thaw cycle up between shingles, usually asphalt, then run down to the eave. This can be an issue with unpapered roof decks and rusty roofer nails. Ice /water barrier solves this issue. The shallower the roof pitch the higher up the roof the disruption can travel. However, this does take time to build up, excluding an outright hole in the roof 1 foot up from the eave where rain can pour through it can take 6 mos or more to manifest as a water stain on a ceiling. It takes time to drag the dirt and fine dust through the drywall, compound, paper, primer and paint.

Your threshold is in contact with the roof deck, one of the pics shows a missing section of threshold. Still no mention of whether the door was removed to flash it properly or whether it was permitted and inspected.

It also looks like the base of the deck may be in contact with the roof, this is also bad, friction between to dissimilar materials, flexing and expansion/contraction. One pic shows the wall at the edge of the deck where a gutter may be swamped under snow and ice, there s a bunch of black spots around the gutter that may be holes exposing the wall behind the siding

- Ghidrah


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boston_guy

144 posts in 1609 days


#12 posted 02-25-2015 10:16 PM

Ghidrah,

Here’s a photo that shows why you thought a piece of the threshold was missing. It’s a piece of the roofing that makes it look as though a piece of the threshold wood has broken off.

 photo IMG_3116_zpsd06d7wkm.jpg

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2322 posts in 1756 days


#13 posted 02-25-2015 10:24 PM

Were you the one asking for washer/dryer surround info? Does this outside door then step DOWN into your kitchen? You have a LOT of bizzare substandard questionable stuff going on with this building. Why is the storm door hinged on the right and the entry door hinged on the left? Why is the roofing material basically flush with an unpainted threshold? You live in the cold North East – why do you have an uninsulated exterior door? You ask questions and want answers that no one can give you a cheap or easy answer to remedy. That deck should never have gotten as high as it is. I’m surprised water never backed up into the kitchen, which if I recall is a lawsuit waiting to happen because it has a huge stepdown that if a fireman or someone had to come in because of a fire in the building and they weren’t aware of it they would break an ankle. A deck should never be put on top of a shingled roof. I’t should be a seamless rubber membrane and everything properly flashed. Even when done right with materials available today the sun will degrade things and it’s inviting trouble.

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boston_guy

144 posts in 1609 days


#14 posted 02-25-2015 11:07 PM

A few more photos…

The deck viewed from my deck door. The door at the end of the deck is the fire egress:

 photo IMG_3108_zpsgf04tx9a.jpg

The view of my deck door from my neighbor’s deck. There’s a slight slope toward my door that is supposed to let water drain past my door and onto the gutter which you cannot see. There’s space under the open screen door and deck wood behind the same screen door. On the other side of the deck wood is a roof gutter:

 photo IMG_3118_zpscrjna0kg.jpg

The gutter above my deck door (notice the dam):

 photo IMG_3119_zpswswhgx4r.jpg

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boston_guy

144 posts in 1609 days


#15 posted 02-26-2015 12:06 AM

Hi dhazelton,

Yes, I’m the same guy who was asking for washer/dryer surround info. What can I tell you? Our 12-unit building was built in the 1920s! I bought this condo in 2004 (when the building was converted to condos). It used to be a rental apartment building. The building’s owner sold it as is.

Let me try to answer your questions:

1) You state: Does this outside door then step DOWN into your kitchen?

Yes, the deck door steps down into my kitchen. This is how my door looks like from my kitchen:

 photo IMG_3111_zpszyhe9ayh.jpg

2) You state: Why is the storm door hinged on the right and the entry door hinged on the left?

I have no idea why the deck door and storm door hinges are mounted on opposite sides. In fact, I had not realized this until you mentioned it! (Thanks!). In any case, the storm door will be coming out. I’m getting a new door that does not require a screen.

3) You state: Why is the roofing material basically flush with an unpainted threshold?

I have no idea. My new threshold will come as part of the custom-ordered door which is pre-hung. The threshold will be aluminum. Is this good?

4) You state: You live in the cold North East – why do you have an uninsulated exterior door?

I don’t know. I can only guess that the building’s previous owner was cheap. If you look at one of the photos I’ve posted, you’ll notice that the fire egress door on the other side of the deck is an interior door.

5) You state: That deck should never have gotten as high as it is.

You think it’s too high? What should have been the right height?

6) You state: A deck should never be put on top of a shingled roof.

This one is easy to answer. The roofer installed the building’s main roof last Spring. That roof is a shingled roof. Then last Summer he took out the 3 old rooftop decks in the building. However, these decks are on a separate roof which is flat. On this roof the material was always rubber. After the old decks were removed the roofer installed a new rubber roof.


Were you the one asking for washer/dryer surround info? Does this outside door then step DOWN into your kitchen? You have a LOT of bizzare substandard questionable stuff going on with this building. Why is the storm door hinged on the right and the entry door hinged on the left? Why is the roofing material basically flush with an unpainted threshold? You live in the cold North East – why do you have an uninsulated exterior door? You ask questions and want answers that no one can give you a cheap or easy answer to remedy. That deck should never have gotten as high as it is. I m surprised water never backed up into the kitchen, which if I recall is a lawsuit waiting to happen because it has a huge stepdown that if a fireman or someone had to come in because of a fire in the building and they weren t aware of it they would break an ankle. A deck should never be put on top of a shingled roof. I t should be a seamless rubber membrane and everything properly flashed. Even when done right with materials available today the sun will degrade things and it s inviting trouble.

- dhazelton


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