Hello HAIL hole ? Heck no hail hole, that’s one of three……….

Hello HAIL hole ? Heck no hail hole, that’s one of three………. what?


Have a look at this hole, looks like an impact puncture from this angle. Hence the ‘hail’ in the title. But if hail did this ‘damage’ there would be lots of other impacts as well. Then I found another one (2nd photo) ;

Roof hole but not a hail hole


And this second one was similar but had a new wrinkle;

A new wrinkle

Now this one has a debris ‘bulb’ strainer, the type normally used to keep leaves and other junk out of the drains for flat roofs. This roof is definately not flat and needs no drains here, right?

You can also see what probably is flashing under the shingles at that tab slot below the ‘hole’. So it’s not likely to be impact damage, it was intentional.

So what is it?

Well , though I had a good idea about it,the mystery was solved when I got to see the attic side of things;

plumbing stack


Well this is what you see from the attic side, and it’s no impact hole, hail or other wise. Neither is it a roof drain, though it will drain a few square inches of the zone immediately above it (them, remember there are three.).

What they are is plumbing stacks (vents) for the 5 bathrooms/powder room and kitchen of this large home.

The good news is that there are no leaks in this very non-standard installation. (so far)

Look closely at the copper parts. You can see that there are 2 sections. The top one is sleeved into the lower one (very tightly) and it has a soldered seam facing us, the ‘up-hill’ side. That’s because it is not a pipe section.

It is a flashing boot that has been installed up side down.

Here is a similar product made in galvanized metal and available at Home Depot and other hardware suppliers;

This is a modern galvanized version of ther same thing.

This is meant to be installed uptight on the surface of the roof with the plumbing stack pipe coming out the opening and extending up to at least 18″ above the roof.

The edge where the pipe comes out can be sealed but a better treatment is a counter flashing sleeve extending down from the top of the pipe to a point a few inches below that joint.

The top of the sleeve has a smaller opening than the pipe diameter, which works fine for it’s function of letting in air, but it restricts rain and incidental debris entry.

The top of the flashing base gets tucked under the upper shingles and the lower end is meant to be on top, just like it was a shingle itself. That’s how it’s designed to work.


So these three holes on this roof are incorrectly installed amateur or non-professional work. The materials have been used inventively but incorrectly.

The only saving grace is that the work was done carefully enough so that there have been no leak problems to date.

But there have been problems. I asked the house keeper who was present at the time of the inspection if the drains made noise or here slow to drain. Yes to both symptoms was the answer.

I then asked if it was worse under heavy rains and through the winter snow season? She said Yes, how did you know that?

The answer is of course is that’s when those roof ‘holes’ are blocked with snow, leaves or taking in high volumes of rain water, so the ‘stacks’ can’t draw air to allow the drains to operate and run freely as they should.

The roof shingle surface is new and in good shape. But the flashings do not lap over the lower shingle courses so sometime in the next few years water will be getting under those shingles, risking damage to the roof below those ‘holes’  and of course eventually admitting water to the homes interior.


How many real estate professionals who are not inspectors would identify this condition and recognize the problem and realize that correction is required?  How many homeowners and buyers?

There is no book or course out there that will explain any mistakes, errors or ‘inventive’ details that may be found. You need experience working for you. You need analytical thinking applied to your inspection., not just a check list.

When you are looking at, or investing, in a home or property in the Montreal or the surrounding area you know who to call.


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

Shaking it up- Chelan, Wenatchee and Leavenworth Home Inspections

Here’s an article on wood shingled roofs from a colleague on the west coast. We don’t see this type in the Montreal area very often. Here this roofing would be used for visual detail rather than construction economy.

Please link through to the original article when you leave comments.

Shaking it up- Chelan, Wenatchee and Leavenworth Home Inspections

Wood roofs- Is it a Shingle or Shake? This at times is very difficult to really know because the modern milling techniques for shingles can mimic shakes, but generally shingles are sawn (smooth) and shakes are split (rough/rustic).

The common wood species is western red cedar, though redwood, treated pine or even cypress may be used.

Wood roofs can be very beautiful but they need special attention during installation.

This issue I am seeing during the home inspection of the roof is with the use of solid decking behind the wooden shingles/shakes. Improper installation technique on solid decking is causing the shakes to wear much quicker, curl and split. This is shortening the life of the roofing.

Roof Curl and lifting

Wood shakes/shingles need to breath and have air movement around them. The older tradition was to install skip sheeting which allowed proper air movement around the shakes. Skip sheeting is usually 1×4 or 1×6 evenly spaced for shingle attachment. The more humid the environment the more critical this breathability is.

Skip Sheeting installation

On the solid decking if this air movement is not properly accounted for you will see issues in the shakes and the decking from moisture and excessive heat.

There are breathable membranes that can be installed and some manufactures of the shingles actually design the shingle to have built in integral ventilation.

Continuous Ventilation installation

When hiring a roofing contractor it is critical to hire one who truly understands the roofing materials being installed, the environment and the proper installation techniques involved for such environment.

You don’t want to be the one who hears from the home inspector or roofing contractor that the roof is done and it is only 10 years old.

Here is a case study on wood roofs. A 70 year old shake roof

Shaking it up. Observations from a Chelan, Wenatchee and Leavenworth Home Inspections service.


NCW Home Inspections, LLC  is located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Orville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

“Ch Ch Ch Changes”….Don’t Always Improve IT (Your Roof, Your House) .

”  Ch Ch Ch Changes”….Don’t Always Improve IT (Your Roof, Your House) .


The Roof Viewflat roof and parapet

Here’s a view of a ‘flat’ roof that has been shown on some of my other blogs.

Flat roofs are not actually flat. They either slope to a central drain or drain to one edge.

This angle is gradual so the drop from the high part of the roof to the drain is not much. Here it is about 6″.

Thats fine when it’s just raining and there is no blockage of the drain(s).

Blockage from debris is only a concern if you have large trees nearby and even when you don’t, you equip it with a wire bulb strainer and check it several times a year.

gooseneck? in wall


Parapet Wall Detail

This is not a typical roof vent . It is small and built into the parapet wall and the opening is close to the roof surface.

This is not a concern in light rains, but when there is a real downpour any debris blockage at the drain will cause water to pond and back up on the roof surface.

In winter with snow and ice built up on the roof any drain freezing or blockage will result in back ups that will be up to those vent openings in no time.


Typical Gooseneck Roof vent

This is a typical gooseneck roof vent. It is shaped that way to shed rain but allow air to move in and out of the roof space. This is actually 3 times higher in space above the roof surface than the vent shown in the parapet of the photo above.

So What is the significant change here?

For that look at the first photo. We see a chimney that has been abandoned and capped with that big mounded piece of concrete. That’s fine but what it tells us is the the heating system of the building has been changed and the chimney is no longer needed.

That part is ok, but what does that change mean to the roof. Well it means there is no longer an almost constantly warmed masonry mass in the centre of this roof keeping the components from freezing, most significantly the drainage piping of the roof drain.

Now that drain is liable to freezing and blockage for much of the winter season. Just a result of the heating system change and the chimney being capped.

Now what happens when the drain is blocked?  The water stays on the roof and freezes into thicker and thicker lenses of ice plus snow as the winter drags on (Winter always drags on doesn’t it?).

But when we start to warm up towards spring, the drain remains frozen under ice, while snow melt water and rain accumulate on the roof. On big roofs that can cause structural damage.

But here our concern is the water that gets backed up and drips into those low parapet wall vents. That water soaks into the brick wall layer and does the damage we saw on a previous blog.

Also with about the same amount of flooding the water is bypassing the edge of the membrane at the front wall (where there is no parapet wall).  The water runs through the soffit overhang and into the front wall of this building. We saw this shown here with theses two clues.

When the chimney was operating it and the area around it was constantly warmed and kept the nearby drain open and functioning to clear the roof of any water accumulation, therefor there was less ice. Water getting up to the vent edges or the front limit of the roof membrane would have been a rare occurrence. That was part of this buildings systems.

Every time you make changes the other components and systems are affected.

So changes may make sense but there can be aspects that are not considered, and those can cause damage as we see here.


If you are in the Montreal area and want a professional consult before making changes to your property please contact me for a quotation. I can also direct you to associates in other areas as well.






Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post