Roof could be source of interior wall troubles

April 16, 2014 

Question: I had a new roof put on my home 10 years ago.

In the last couple of years, I have noticed, first on one and then another, and now all interior sides of exterior walls, paint peeling and plaster crumbling.

This is happening only on the first and second floors. The third floor, right under the roof, is in fine shape.

I want to stop whatever it is, a leak of some sort, I imagine, and fix the walls (the easy part, I’m sure) before the day comes when my house goes on the market (not imminent).

Where do I start in the search for the source of the problem, and who do I hire to do the searching? It occurred to me that the gutters are a likely source.

Should I call the roofer? (I do not think he installed the gutters, but I believe he reinstalled them.)

A. What kind of a warranty came with the roofing job?

Most of the queries I receive on this subject are from readers who say they have 10-year guarantees, and that if problems occur after the warranties end, the roofers wash their hands of them.

It’s a tough call. Look at the winter just past. If you get enough of those, a roof can deteriorate faster than any warranty can predict. It’s just an average, based on as much experience as the roofer can gather.

Yet I’d give the roofer a call to see what he or she thinks and whether some time could be spared to take a look.

You say that based on the good condition of the third floor, the roof seems OK. Then the second and first floors could have problems for other reasons — the gutters may, indeed, need adjustment if they haven’t been maintained properly or were affected by the weight of ice and snow.

If your house is made of brick or stone, painting might be necessary. Fascia boards could be rotted.

As I always say, I can’t make on-site visits, so I’m just guessing based on experience.

If the source remains elusive, a former colleague wrote a column a few years back that is often recalled by readers with problems similar to yours.

She obtained the services of an inspector who, using a moisture sensor and an infrared detector, was able to discover the source. The colleague says it was costly but worth it.

The link: goo.gl/IQO3Ue

Questions? Email Alan J. Heavens at aheavens @phillynews.com or write him at The Inquirer, P.O. Box 8263, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.

The News Tribune is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service