Well, the good news is that I think I finally figured it out. Knowledge is power.
The bad news of course is that it'll be some work. Sigh.
I've been wrestling with this leak for literally years
, though to be honest I've not dedicated much time to it since there were other priorities. After another leak sprung forth on Friday (due to a bout of snow/rain) I thought it might finally be time to figure out what the heck was going on.
And yes, I did eventually figure it out. It took a lot of investigation and testing (via copious amounts of water being dumped in various areas) but here's what I think is going on.
Basically, there were two problems....the first was up on the tower roof. That area is flat and (until a couple of years ago) would leak after a big snowstorm due to ice buildup overflowing down on pair of 2x8s in the tower wall. I found old indications of leaking in the pain along that one set of verticals and old mold/stain marks on the subflooring along that wall (I tore up part of the existing laminated wood flooring; I have plans to put in a porcelain floor anyway). That's been fixed for the most part thru the work I did a couple of years back when I worked around and patched it. That roof might still be leaking if there's a lot of snow up there--it was unclear since I was also brushing water off of the walkaround outside the patio door--but I think that's what was happening.
Secondly is the more serious issue, and the one which will require the most work to fix. Basically the roofers up there were totally incompetent and, as near as I can tell, they never installed flashing around the base of the patio door. Now ordinarily that wouldn't have been that much of an issue, except that they didn't slope the roof there properly around the walkway. That had basically been happening since we completed the house, and over time that leaking has rotted part of the subfloor where the vertical 2x8s and the patio door meet. I was able to put my hand straight thru the rotted wood when I pulled up the flooring, and it was quite damp under there. There are indications that leaks had happened either along the patio door or (more likely) simply soaked the wood towards that direction, with the upshot that there are moly and discolored spots all along the stretch of the door.
Outside the patio door itself actually seems pretty good, if somewhat ugly. I'd put down some of the rubber membrane goop a few weeks ago and I noticed this time around that much of it had "bubbled"--that's a sign of gas (probably from the decaying wood) being released from the wet subfloor. It all still seemed intact however, and that's the important thing.
So my course of action look to be as follows:
- First up I've got a couple of small fans drying things out all around that stretch of flooring and inside the rafters below. I'll leave the fans running indefinitely, basically until I get ready to do the rest of the work (below). I've gradually been carrying planks of the laminate down for disposal in the fireplace (it's wet as wood goes but it does actually burn pretty quickly). Here in a week or so I'll treat everything with vinegar to kill the mold.
- The turret top needs to be repainted next. There aren't any obvious holes anywhere that I could see where water might enter, but there are a couple of "soft" areas on top of the roof that were the site of the prior leaks which need patching. Of course the idiots who did the work in the first place didn't slope the roof properly so the drain only runs when the water is higher than it should be; I need to clean all of that up, get the slope in properly, and prep the roof for repainting. I plan on doing some layers of paint and roofing membrane to bring the whole thing up about a half inch, possible with a layer of rubber membrane, as part of all this. I'll also need to build some kind of shelter for working up there to keep rain out of the area while it's being worked on, but fortunately I think some well placed 2x4s and a nice big weighted tarp will do this.
- After the turret top is sealed and sloped properly the real fun begins. After some thought I think I'm going to have to completely remove the patio door up there; the subfloor it's sitting on has already partially rotted and since the idiots who didn't do their work properly didn't install any flashing it won't get any better. My thinking is that once the bad wood is cleared out I will install a new run of 2x4s, properly flashed, which will give the patio door a small "step over" to get in/out. I'm okay with that because honestly it isn't a door that would be used much anyway, frankly.
That door also has a big window above it (no idea why they installed that other than to give me lots of light), but unfortunately if I move the door up 4" that window has to come out. I can frame it out and then stucco across that bit I guess; the window itself will get donated to a recycle shop.
I don't really want to replace the door itself, just rebuild its base and then reinstall it. I don't really want to buy a new patio door anyway (they're ridiculously expensive). Besides, if I did decide to replace it I'd also have to figure out some way to haul it down and away to the recycle. Really a better plan all around to work with what I have. This is going to be tricky of course since all of this work is happening near the edge of the roof, but my plan is to lever the door into the computer room and use tarps to protect the giant hole in the house like I did the last time I did that.
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So that is, as they say, is that. At least I've figured it out...there's a lot of work ahead to undo the mess the idiots who installed it did but I can do it!
Steven in Colorado