Ice Dams, Roof Leaks and Log Buildings

Why it’s important to be diligent and inspect your home

With the extreme midwestern winter we are seeing all sorts of problems with ice damming, and logs homes. Many log homes have interesting roof lines with valleys and dormers that intersect in a myriad of ways. While these make a home appear interesting and unique, these may not have been the best choices for managing water winter or summer. (Just how log homes are getting designed and have been designed may be a subject for another day….)

Today day Id like to talk about what to do if you have one of these problem areas where water/ ice makes its way into a valley and may have become a leak. First of all ‘INSPECT’: this winter offer an opportunity to see how our home is preforming. Braving the deep snow around your house and inspecting your roof for signs of ice damming is a good thing to do while the snow and ice are here. You roof can be ‘leaking’ without signs inside the house. Water can make its way into the attic space, or under the sheathing of the roof without us seeing it inside.

Here is what to look for:

A valley like this can drive water into a narrow area and can eventually back up and cause the roof to leak.

Next decide if you have a problem. Is this buildup of ice and snow an issue? In the photo above it may be the case that its not an issue. The ice is not built up too thick at the edge of the roof and the ice is not over towards the dormer/log corner (to right on photo) where it would come against flashing and the log corner; both places we don’t want the water to go.

Below find an example of a roof area that defiantly needs attention. As you can see water is running down the log wall. This situation has been developing for years evidenced by the fact that rot is present.

The problem: Roof flashing around a valley and an upper dormer is failing and water has been allowed to make its way behind the flashing and allowed to run down the wall for some time, what to do?

When water makes it behind the flashing water will many times run directly down the wall, see photo above.

What to do if your valley or roof on your log home is leaking?

The first step is to decide where the leak is coming from. Having a contractor or home inspector look at it is always a good idea. For the repair the first step is to remove offending roofing/flashing and insulation and repair it along with any log rot. Only after all the rot is repaired do you replace the roofing/insulation and flashing and seal the area up. There are two important steps to take prior to the planning of the repair and at the closing of any repair project such as this.

A. Ask your self is this situation fixed or will it be fixed if the plan is executed? Will the problem return the area is flashed/insulated, roofed and guttered, just the same way it was before. If the answer is yeas, then another solution needs to be considered.

B. Test the area. Once the repair and or modification is complete testing for leaks is important. There are tow ways to do this. With a garden hose spray the area down well and see how the water makes its way down the problem area. The second way is to wait for a good rain and go outside and look at it. (Pro Tip: take a video of the water coming off the roof and show it to your contractor, this will help in determining that the fix is good)

Logs directly on the roof here are a recipe for problems down the road (see the moss growing?)

For more about leaking and more problems log home owners run into check out our log home problems section about logs with cracks: