Back in 1990, I went to work for a small roofing company in Cape Coral, Florida. The first job they sent me on was a leak repair that had stumped all their other roofers. My boss was anxious to get the leak fixed, but he also had a hidden agenda. He wanted to see what the new guy knew.
It was a long two-story condominium building with a shingle roof. The lady showed me the leak, which was showing up as a big nasty stain on the ceiling of her bedroom. It had leaked for years, getting progressively worse and nobody had been able to find the problem. She had been incredibly patient, but was really tired of looking at that stain.
I carefully measured the distance from the stain to a window. That gave me a good reference point. Then I got my ladder and set it up right by the window. I measured over to the spot on the roof, taking into consideration the thickness of the wall, the soft overhang and the slope of the roof.
That’s when I found… absolutely nothing!
No pipe. No vent. No valley. No nail-pops. Nothing. The shingles were in good shape and the slope was decent. No wonder this leak had become such a “head-scratcher” for the company.
The lady didn’t have an attic hatch, but I found one at the opposite end of the building. As I crawled through the deep, clingy cellulose insulation over unit after unit, I suspected the reason nobody had found the leak… I don’t think anybody had been in the attic.
Anyway, when I got to the right unit, I had the lady tap on the ceiling with a broom handle to make sure I was in the right place. Sure enough, there was wet insulation. I set my flashlight on top of the drywall ceiling pointing straight up.
There on the bottom of the plywood roof sheathing was a nasty stain about two feet in diameter. In the center was a small spot that was completely rotted. I drove a nail right through the rotted spot, to pinpoint the location.
Back on the roof, I found my nail… and the problem. The roofer who had installed the shingles had put a staple (we use nails now) right where two shingles from the course above came together. There’s not supposed to be any fasteners there for that exact reason. The staple was hidden under the shingles, but water could get to it.
One fastener in the wrong place had caused all that trouble… And that’s my point.
On your do-it-yourself roof project, you will be installing thousands of fasteners. Take the time to learn where they go, or you will be setting yourself up for more trouble than you know what to do with.