Question? Just ask us!
Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
InspectAPedia ® Home
ROOFING INSPECTION & REPAIR
AMERICAN CEMWOOD ROOFING
BEST ROOFING PRACTICES
BUILT UP ROOFS
CATHEDRAL CEILING VENTILATION
CERTIFICATIONS for ROOFING CONTRACTORS
CHIMNEY FLASHING Mistakes & Leaks
COLD WEATHER ROOF TROUBLE
DECKS, ROOFTOP CONSTRUCTION
EPDM, RUBBER, PVC ROOFING
EXTRACTIVE BLEEDING on SHINGLES
FIRE RETARDANT PLYWOOD
FLASHING on BUILDINGS
FLAT ROOF MOISTURE & CONDENSATION
Green House or Solarium Roof Leaks
HEAT TAPES & CABLES on Roofs for Ice Dams
ROOF ICE DAM LEAKS
MASONITE WOODRUF FIBERBOARD ROOFING
NOISE CONTROL for ROOFS
PLASTIC ROOFING TYPES
PVC, EPDM, RUBBER ROOFING
ROOF ARCHITECTURAL STYLES - PHOTO GUIDE
ROOF CLEANING RECOMMENDATIONS
ROOF COLOR RECOMMENDATIONS
ROOF INSPECTION SAFETY & LIMITS
ROOF LEAK DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
ROOF NOISE TRANSMISSION
ROOF REPLACEMENT SNAFUs
ROOFING FELT UNDERLAYMENT REQUIREMENTS
ROOFING MATERIALS, Age, Types
SADDLE CONSTRUCTION at CHIMNEYS
SNOW GUARDS & SNOW BRAKES
STANDARDS for ROOFING
STRESS SKIN INSULATED PANELS
TEST LABS - ROOF SHINGLE
TREES & SHRUBS, TRIM OFF BUILDING
TRUSSES, Floor & Roof
UNDERLAYMENT REQUIREMENTS on ROOFS
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
WALK-ON ROOF SURFACES
WARRANTIES for ROOF SHINGLES
WORKMANSHIP & ROOF DAMAGE
How to find the source of leaks in a slate roof: all slate roofs probably have at least some flashing, slate, or other damage or mechanical installation errors. Some conditions such as a side lap error, damaged slate, or even flashing error may leak only in certain weather conditions such as windy rain storms from a particular direction, water backup behind ice dams, or prolonged rains.
This series of detailed slate roof inspection and repair articles describes procedures for evaluating the condition of slate roofing. How to inspect, identify defects, and estimate remaining life of slate roofs are addressed. The article series also references slate repair procedures, repair slate sources, and slate quarries.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2014 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
Where slates are missing near valleys the adjoining slates may be damaged as well. Openings may cause leaks or water to pass below the valley flashing even if the flashing looks intact. Where there were previous repairs it's common for the felt underlayment to be torn as well. If there are porous slates or openings above the tears in the felt, water may leak through.
Ice dams at roof eaves can be a serious leak source on slate as most other roof systems. Traditionally 30# felt was used at eaves as "insurance" against this problem. Some slate suppliers recommend this heavier felt for all underlayment, not just at the eaves. However two components conspire to reduce the effectiveness of felt as ice-dam protection: every nail at the eaves punctures the felt, and with age felts often dry and disintegrate before the slates have worn out.
Ice dam protection is improved in new or re-roof applications using the newer sticky membranes such as WR Grace's Ice and Water ShieldTM.
However the preferred solution to this problem is proper attic ventilation. Good venting avoids the ice-dam problem and adds reductions in winter moisture and summer heat problems. Old houses whose attics have been converted to living space, particularly with un-vented ceilings following the underside of fully-insulated roofs are likely to be serious moisture and heat traps.
Slope requirements for slate roofs In conventional roofing design slates are used on roofs with a slope of at least 4" of rise in 12" of run, that is, on 4 in 12 roofs. A 3" head lap is used, often 4" when the slope is less than 8 in 12. So a 20" long slate, with a 3" head lap, would have an exposure of 8.5". For 18" slates the exposure is 7.5", and for 16" slates, 6.5". Roofs with less head lap or more exposure may be more leak-prone.
Some slate companies advertised A slate roof that cannot leak, yet [was] inexpensive, easy to apply, beautiful..., durable as time," using a design which was soon found to be a disaster: 12" slates were placed with 9" exposure, leaving 3" for headlap and 6" which was backed only by a cap sheet of 32# felt interlaced with the slates.
Roofs were also installed following this poor design, using 14" slates with 10"-11" exposure.
Felt is not functional as a permanent roofing material: even where it is not exposed directly to sunlight, as the organics dry out the felt cracks, disintegrates, and leaks. We have reports that inspectors have been the subject of legal actions following their failure to identify this defect in slate roofs. See the illustrations above.
Personal communication, Doug Sheldon, Vermont Structural Slate, December 1990.
Reader Question: what's the best way to repair a leaky valley on a slate roof
(Aug 17, 2011) lois said:
can someone tell me the easiest way to repair a leaking valley on a slate roof please? thank you so much.
Unfortunately because the valley has to extend back up under slates on either side of the valley itself, to make the best and proper and most durable leaky valley repair, one has to remove slates to replace or re-line a leaky slate roof valley.
You could make a temporary "patch" using stick-down materials or on some roofs I've seen roof mastic used in that application; beware of using asphalt roof mastic on copper flashings - it fixes the leak in the short run but corrodes the copper in the long run. Details are at SLATE ROOF LEAKS, TEMPORARY REPAIR
Once the necessary slates are removed, the valley is usually replaced with new, heavy copper or on some roofs folks use other flashing materials like aluminum (I don't recommend that).
I've repaired complex metal roof flashings with torch-down modified bitumen - but there is a fire risk doing so.
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) how to find the leaks in a slate roof
Questions & answers or comments about leaky slate roofs.
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Search the InspectApedia website
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...
Technical Reviewers & References