Our Roof is Leaking

It has been incredibly windy in the windy city lately, and a huge portion of our roof has flapped up.

We Need a New Roof

Wednesday night as I was getting into bed, I noticed that the bed was wet. At first I thought one of the cats had peed on the bed and I was pretty upset. Brandon thought the area was too large to be from the cats, and when he looked up he noticed that water had streaked the light fixture. Then I noticed the trail of bubbling paint along the ceiling and the four inches of water inside the globe of the light fixture (which no longer works, by the way). Great. Our roof is leaking.

We called a few roofers out to assess the damage, and it looks like we’ll be replacing the entire flat roof on our home’s aging addition. The wood beneath the shingles is in poor condition, so that will need to be replaced as well.

While we’re at it, we’ll be switching our dark, energy-absorbing roof to a cool, heat-reflecting, more earth-friendly white roof. Honestly, I’m not crazy about the look of a white roof. That portion of the roof is difficult to see from most angles though, and it seems that a “cool roof” is the responsible thing to do. Lemonade from lemons, eh?

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  • Christian T
    April 9, 2010 at 6:56 am

    Oh no!!!! The weather was so extreme the past few months! Our finished basement has been getting water for a month straight from all the snow melting and the spring rain. It’s so frustrating! It will all work out though! Good luck with your white roof… I can’t wait to see what it looks like on your house.

  • Kathryn Humphreys
    April 9, 2010 at 6:59 am

    That’s your house? I saw that roof while taking my son to the park the other day. I almost knocked on your door, but from my angle I couldn’t decide if it was just a really odd roof or if something was wrong. Good luck. We’re going to have the same problem soon, just hoping the roof last long enough for us to save up to expand and fix our very oddly constructed addition. Ahhh, Oak Park.

  • Laura Gaskill
    April 9, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Grr. Such a bummer! I think the white roof will look fine on that portion of your house – and good for you going with the eco-friendly option, I’m sure you will inspire loads of people just by writing about it here!

  • Barbara
    April 9, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Oh, I;m sorry to hear about your roof! Good luck with the new roof. I’m sure it will turn out well!

  • amyks
    April 9, 2010 at 7:34 am

    We have a white roof…it’s flat, so you can’t really see it, but I do think that it’s the way to go…and I bet that white roofs will be the norm in a couple of years or so.

  • Carole
    April 9, 2010 at 7:52 am

    yuck, few things worse than water in the house! Good luck with the repair, and kudos for going “green” with the white roof!

  • Ronique Gibson
    April 9, 2010 at 8:15 am

    Just think of your lower electricity bill in the hot summer months! Your pocket and the earth will thank you! :o)

  • Janice
    April 9, 2010 at 8:28 am

    I’m not understanding the white roof thing, especially in Chicago. But anyway. I’ve dealt with a leaky roof – not fun at all.

  • Jujube
    April 9, 2010 at 8:29 am

    I hate problems at house. It makes me down instantly, thinking about the fixing and tidying up process… oh painful.

    Wish you luck

  • Susan
    April 9, 2010 at 8:29 am

    White roofs are not really an advantage in a cooler climate like Chicago. I would certainly think twice before going totally white there.

  • Nicole P.
    April 9, 2010 at 8:33 am

    We had the same problem with our roof (ours is a 1930s bungalow). We found out that it has like two or three layers of shingles up there (yeah, instead of ripping up and replacing the old shingles some idiot just put more shingles on top of the old . . . TWICE!) And that the roof under all those shingles is in pretty sad shape (so many layers of shingles only made this problem worse). In short, it’ll be a big (read: expensive) job. We had it patched last summer since we were short on funds and it has held so far but this definitely needs to be the summer of the new roof.

  • Making it Lovely
    April 9, 2010 at 8:43 am

    I know we don’t have the year-round warm temperatures here in Chicago that make white roofs a smart choice, but we do have some heating issues on the second floor. It’s always significantly warmer upstairs than it is downstairs, and usually it’s warmer up there than it is outside (by a good ten degrees at least). So we think the white roof actually is a good choice for us.

    • Bonnie
      April 12, 2010 at 9:17 am

      Your upstairs issues might have more to do with insulation than your roof covering. We have an old (1921) arts and crafts home in the Chicago area and found that by having two separate heating and cooling systems, we are quickly recouping the cost of putting the upstairs one in. We also redid the insulation upstairs which helped tremendously.


  • Diana McNamara
    April 9, 2010 at 8:53 am

    We recently had to get a new roof & they used “polar-ply” for the wood decking part. (We didn’t have any of the wood decking at all. We had the original 1950’s shingles with another roof on top of that.) Anyways we went with charcoal colored shingles (in Houston!) and just by switching to the polar-ply our house feels cooler & our electricity bill went down. We thought about a white roof too, but decided it wouldn’t look the greatest with the amount of smog & pollen, etc. we get here. Good luck b/c I know how expensive a decision it is!

  • Polly
    April 9, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Why be happy when you can own a home? :)

  • Jean
    April 9, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Yikes. Sorry about your roof. Ours leaked badly a couple of years ago and did some damage to the interior of the house. Our homeowners’ insurance paid for the interior damage which was nice. But replacing a roof is a costly and unexciting way to spend money, I know. A lot of people in our area (I live in North Carolina) are putting on metal roofs rather than white roofs. We looked into it when we were replacing our roof, but even though metal roofs last much, much longer than shingle roofs and save you money because of their energy efficiency, the estimates we got were about $3000 more for a metal roof than a shingle one. Sadly, we just couldn’t afford that.

  • Brigite
    April 9, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Oh no! I’ve been chronically our experience with a leak in our closet, and it’s been a nightmare. Three weeks and I’m still sleeping in the living room.

    Did you contact your agent for your homeowners insurance? You might want to find out if they’ll cover any of the damage. In my case, they didn’t pay to fix the hose that had a hole in it, but they did pay to replace the drywall and carpet in my closet and bedroom (all once piece). I’m also submitting a claim for my damaged clothes. Make sure you call your agent before having any work done, because they will need to approve it.

    Good luck!

    • Making it Lovely
      April 9, 2010 at 9:33 am

      Yes, our insurance will cover at least some of the cost. It gets tricky though – will they cover the whole roof or just half? And after our $1000 deductible and the loss of our ‘no claims’ discount for five years, we have to figure out if it’s worth it.

  • gesikah
    April 9, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Oh I feel for you, the same thing happened to us a couple years ago (only ours was apparently hurricane damage that was pushed over the edge but the next storm). We had water fill up a lightbulb (!) in our laundry room and pouring out of two different places in our living room. We ended up having to get our entire roof replaced.

  • Erika Edith
    April 9, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Its so frustrating when things go wrong when you are going to bed. Why don’t things ever go wrong when you have nothing to do, or about to do some mundane, repetitive task?

    Gold star for being so responsible. Good luck with the new roof!

    Polly – your comment made me laugh! Sometimes that couldn’t be more true.

  • Joanna
    April 9, 2010 at 10:23 am

    We got a new roof just last week! We live in NH and really wanted a metal roof – unfortunately it was going to cost twice as much so it was a no. Then we decided on a white roof. Unfortunately same problem – twice as much! I think the 15% more in the article isn’t quite right :) Plus the roofer (who could have made double his money if we had gone with it) said you would have to stay in the home for at least 25 years to see your money back in energy savings.

    He said the best way to cool things down in the Summer, and prevent ice dams in the winter is with proper venting – a ridge roof vent and vents in the soffits. So we did just that and it has indeed been cooler inside. (Yes NH does occasionally get a sunny day lol!)
    But if money was no object, and we were going to stay here in the long term, I’d have gone with the metal or white roofing option – I think a white roof with proper venting would be a great thing.

  • jbhat
    April 9, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Not fun. But one of those things, I guess. Keep us posted on the progress.


  • Amanda
    April 9, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Hey Nicole, sorry to hear about your roof. I’m in the exact same position as you right now … http://enjoythelady.blogspot.com/2010/03/outside-of-my-bedroom.html … in the bedroom and everything. At least you’ll be more energy efficient after it’s all fixed. The only “lemonaide” that was made from my dis-matter, is that I get a brand-spanking-new painted bedroom. Though it will still be white — hm, apartments.

  • Danielle
    April 9, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about your roof problems! We have a bungalow and thanks to the crazy (er, decorative?) roof line, have had problems every winter with ice dams resulting in interior leaks. We had a new roof installed at the beginning of this past winter and it was soo nice to make it thru a season without any bubbling paint or water damage. I definitely feel your pain!!

  • lisa
    April 9, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Ugh! We are actually getting a new roof today after a crazy leak and old shingles so I can so understand. We also debated about the white roof. In the end, I chose the shingle that looked the best for future resale rather than energy saving/tax rebate. I do feel kind of guilty about it. Roofs are such an unsexy house item!

  • Audrie
    April 9, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    That really stinks about the roof… at least it’s going to be covered (partially?) by insurance.

  • Lindsey
    April 9, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    UGH. I am so sorry. Our first house had a flat roof portion and we dealt with leaks on and off for years until we finally replaced it. And the high winds where I live made our shingles flap up and caused other leaks. AND one time our washer on our second floor began leaking on the fill cycle…that actually caused the entire floor, subfloor and ceiling to have to be replaced on the first floor. Needless to say, sounds of dripping water or bubbling paint shows up in my nightmares all the time. Sorry you’re going through this! No fun. On a lighter note, I’ve been reading your blog for nearly a year now and I am OBSESSED with your whimsical and artistic style. Thanks for inspiring me. You really make my days.

  • paty fontes
    April 9, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    I am so sorry to hear that! I am sure you researched a lot and found the white roof the best choice for you guys…. we also have problems with heat along the house (the right part is MUCH cooler than the left part)

  • kasey
    April 9, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    i’m so sorry for you – and i totally understand! i have guys here right now installing a new air conditioner – we’ve been without it for a week, and i live in mississippi!! anyways, it’s definately not fun to shell out cash for stuff like this. good luck with your new cool roof!

  • Sanity Fair
    April 9, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    That’s the worst!!! Water is like cancer for houses. I hope they get it fixed for you quickly – and without breaking the bank!

  • Shoshana
    April 9, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    I’m sorry about your roof. I was thinking about you, though, because I’m in a similar situation and was wondering what you would do. My roof leaked all over the house and caused extensive damage to both floors and the basement. I was told it needs to be repainted top to bottom and the floors refinished and I wondered what you would do. I need a whole new palette! Its exciting but overwhelming and insurance is soooo slow.

  • Lisa
    April 9, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Good for you with the white roof!!! Happy to hear you are taking the opportunity to green your sweet house.

  • melinda
    April 9, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Sorry to hear about your roof, I hope everything gets fixed quickly! I had never heard of a “cool roof” until I read your post! Glad I found out about them. :)

  • Meredith from Penelope Loves Lists
    April 9, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Absolutely! We had to replace our roof after those crazy bad storms in Jan 2009. We added some skylights and extra insulation in the attic in the process and it’s been worth it.

    Still, it’s a hassle and an expense, isn’t it? Love your good attitude.

  • Jody
    April 9, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    we had this problem from ice damage this year and we also had to have all the wet insulationa dn stuff ripped out of the walls b/c you do NOT want that stuff molding in there-ew!! BUT, the GREAT NEWS, and make sure you check into it if you haven’t, is that ALL of it was covered by insurance except for our deductible-we had to get half a new roof, new countertops where water damaged them, new bathroom where the shower had to be pulled out to get to the walls, etc-seemed like a smallish leak but caused MAJOR damage. PRAISE GOD for awesome insurance!! They even cover if we have to stay in a hotel at any time during the repairs so make sure to check wiht your homeowners ins if you haven’t yet! Hang in there-I hate non-fun home inmprovements :(

  • daily decorator
    April 9, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I feel your pain! Owning an older home has it’s ups and downs. My home is over 200 years old and something always needs fixing. Look on the bright side, it could have been cat pee on your bed…yuch!

    Tracy :)

  • kelly
    April 9, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    I have a white roof on one of my houses (in Florida, though) and I love it. (You can see it here: http://tearinguphouses.blogspot.com/2009/09/before-and-progress-little-blue-house.html )

    Hope it gets fixed soon!


  • Tatyana
    April 9, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Oh, sorry to hear about the leak. I understand your concern about the heat and doing the right thing, but do you think that type of white roof would look right on your house? I know metal roofs are expensive but if you plan on staying in your house for a long time, I would suggest going with a light metal roof (I think they even have a white finish)- they can still reflect the light and heat and will last a long time. (I just finished reading “How Buildings Learn” and this is what the author suggested.) Of course, you’ll decide what’s best for you style and budget-wise. Hope it all works out.

  • Bridget
    April 9, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    I’ve seen some really cool homes with the scrub-colored moss on them as well…I don’t know how flat they have to be, though…but that could be another option! (and you could check for local grants for green roofs, as well!)

  • Vicki @ Piccolo Takes All
    April 9, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Roof leaks are depressing. We’ve been attempting to address multiple leaks in our back bedroom for years. It’s complicated because we have several levels of roofing at various angels coming together above the room. We had one small portion of the flat roof replaced recently (a very un-fun way to spend $1,100), but fortunately, it stopped one of the leaks. We’re still trying to figure the other one out after a failed repair attempt. We also need to replace the entire roof soon (don’t know where that money will come from)…

    Our roofer suggested reflective shingles (http://www.certainteed.com/products/roofing/residential/317920), which come in more traditional color options. If you are worried about white looking strange on your house, you may want to check them out.

  • Emily
    April 10, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Several years ago, a tree fell on my parents’ house and they called the insurance company. The insurance company not only paid to fix that, but offered to reshingle the entire roof because so many shingles had been lost over the past 70-80 years. First time I’ve ever heard of an insurance company being generous and making things easy.

  • Bridget
    April 10, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Regarding your insurance . . . in all probability, your homeowner’s insurance will only cover the cost of the repairs related to the damage, so make sure you have an expert take a close look to assess that every area that was damaged has been accounted for. On another note, based on your blog, it seems you are a relatively new owner of your home. If this is the case, I am wondering whether you and your husband got one of those policies that you can buy when you purchase a new home that covers the costs of repairs of problems/issues that develop that are clearly problems with the house that should have been disclosed at the time of sale (i.e., if there are other issues unrelated to wind damage, which should be covered under a standard homeowner’s insurance. Don’t worry about having a claim on your insurance . . . since that is the precise reason you have the insurance. If you have had a homeowner’s or renter’s policy for 5 years with no claims, then I would venture to say you have put some $$ into the policy. In either case, insurance is for accidents, so you should not hesitate to use it unless the value of repairs is in the range of your deductible, which is likely not the case with your roof.
    I’m not sure about the white roof either . . . if you are concerened about the temperature, make sure you have the proper insulation in your roof, etc., which will make a difference.
    Lots of luck to you.

  • Adventures In Babywearing
    April 10, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Oh no! So sorry about the leak. It has been extra windy lately. Hope it is all fixed up nice and soon.


  • lfw1031
    April 10, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    :{ I have 2 replace flat tar roof on my 100 year old 2-flat. BUMMER. I’m also contemplating white roof – it won’t b noticable unless u do a fly-by. The cost is not ideal @ this time but what can u do? Roofs r sort of important, just not very sexy. I’d say an insurance claim is proabably not worth it 4 this project. 5 years in life of a house is a long time & u might want 2 save that $$ for a bigger claim down the road.

    BTW – who are you going w/ 2 repair ur roof, if u don’t mind me asking. I’m only in the bid process w/ Lindholm and Matthews right now. GOOD LUCK!

  • Bridget
    April 10, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    FYI people . . . your insurance is not going to get cancelled because the wind damaged your house and you filed a claim for it. Now if you file a couple claims or have a couple claims filed against you for personal injuries sustained on your property, that is another story because that suggests that you are not safely maintaining the property or at the very least, raises a red flag.

  • dianna
    April 10, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Ugh…no fun! Living in Hurricane-ville I can certainly sympathize with roof issues. Good luck my dear.

  • Kelly
    April 11, 2010 at 4:43 am

    oh dear! sorry to hear about your roof – if you want to pop over to my blog I have a little something for you :)

  • Shirin
    April 11, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    how frustrating.. I love your positive outlook though! Very inpiring.

  • Sugar
    April 14, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    So excited that you are going with a ‘cool roof.’ Can’t wait to see the end results!!

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    I’ve read a lot of blog post about white and cool roof. Would painting my roof white have the same effect? I feel that it is more cheaper to paint than to change to white roof.

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