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How to Identify Leaks Without Ripping Off The Roof

Robert J. Stahl, Principal
Robert J. Stahl Architect

The Lay of the Land

Our specialty is the restoration of buildings. We’re experts at finding where moisture comes from. All buildings have a possibility of moisture getting in, whether it’s from the roof or the facade. We use equipment that can show us the condition of the roof – where the anomalies exist – without ripping it up.

A contractor may come to you and say, “Look, we can solve your problem. You don’t need an architect. We’ll just replace the roof.” Well, that may be true. They’ll replace the roof, and there won’t be any problems if they put the roof on correctly.

But removing a roof sometimes is not as easy as you might think and could be very, very costly. Also a lot of old roofs, especially ones that were done in the ’60s and ’70s, may have asbestos. If that’s the case, the cost of removal could be two or three times more than otherwise, and that could be a big problem.

Now What?

By using an infrared camera, however, we would be able to identity where the leaks are. The roof may be in pretty good condition. You’ll have a few areas, maybe 5 percent of the roof, where there’s some moisture within the membrane. We would track that down with the infrared camera. We could also develop a roofing replacement for you, which would cut out the wet areas, leave the solid areas, and you could probably save 40 to 50 percent of that roof, which is quite a bit, and also get you the same 20-year warranty you’d have gotten for replacing the whole roof. In those situations, I tell my clients: after 20 years, call me back.

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