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eman1994's avatar

I need a way to stop my window from leaking?

Asked by eman1994 (39points) February 13th, 2010
7 responses
“Great Question” (2points)

i live in mather pa and we just had a really big snow storm,and now the snow is melting off the roof and leaking through the do i fix it.

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grumpyfish's avatar

We’re having the same problem here in Pittsburgh. I’m not sure there’s anything you can do at the moment. But make sure you check the basement below the window that’s leaking, you may have more leaks there.

Here’s what’s happening here:
1 There’s an ice dam on the roof, this is where snow melts on the roof, runs down to the gutter, and then re-freezes in the gutter making the gutters ineffective at removing water. You probably have icicles hanging off your gutters? If you do, you have an ice dam there.
2 The ice dam is holding water back on the roof. Roof systems are designed to stop water that’s running down them from leaking, but most are not really designed to stop pooled water from eventually leaking through
3 In our case, we have gutters that are integrated into the eaves of the roof (quite fashionable in 1920), and in at least two places, we have water leaking through the gutter into the wall and into the house that way.

The solutions to these problems are:
1) Install roof heaters to melt the ice dams before the form (these are those zig-zag wires running just above gutters you see on some people’s houses), and/or insulate the roof better (keeps the roof surface cold and the snow doesn’t melt when it would refreeze in the gutter)
2) Install membrane roofing (which would prevent water sitting on the roof from seeping in)—this is pretty expensive and not really practical, but it would solve a problem.
3) Fix the gutters.

We’re having a roofer come out as soon as the snow is gone, but there’s nothing you can do right now to fix the problem, other than sop up the water.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@grumpyfish gave a good answer. To clarify a bit:

It’s not the window that’s leaking (most likely, although that’s also possible; you probably would have noticed a leaky window during a rainstorm in the fall, so it’s unlikely that “a leaky window” is the problem). What you’re seeing is a symptom of the problem on the roof.

The roof becomes a problem because (as @grumpyfish said) snow is melting on the roof. It does that because your attic insulation is insufficient to keep the large volume of snow from melting at the surface of the roof and running down to the eaves, where it re-freezes because there’s no warm surface or air there to prevent that. That builds up and eventually causes the water trying to run from the roof to pool—even on the sloping roof. All that you’re seeing is the symptom as water has worked its way under the shingles, through the roof skin, down the walls, and into the living area. (It’s also leaking inside the wall, which is another area you’ll want to examine when you can. You don’t want to just fix “problems you can see” and ignore others just because you can’t see them.)

The snow melt on your roof forms a vicious cycle: snow melts, water runs down until it hits the existing barrier of ice at the eaves… and builds higher. That means your pool of snow melt creeps higher on the roof. Most building codes call for special roofing materials at the eaves to prevent the “normal” ice buildup to within 2’ or so of the edge of the roof. When you get massive snowfall, the ice dam prevention is overcome as that water backs up on the roof and under the (good) shingles.

There is another remedy, but it’s not safe for you to do it now (keep it in mind for next time you get a significant snowfall): clear some of the snow from your roof, especially at the eaves. With ice on the edge of your roof now this is NOT RECOMMENDED. Don’t try to climb on your roof now unless you have excellent insurance, paid-up life insurance… and a death wish. Also, don’t attempt to melt the ice with flame sources. People who attempt this are often known as “fire victims” and “homeless”.

Judi's avatar

I’m glad I live in southern California. I’ve been complaining about 55 degree weather.

The_Idler's avatar


Scooby's avatar

Found this for ya hope it helps!! :-/ ” ”

Step 1
Find the leaking window and clean outside. Use any brand of kitchen or bathroom cleaner you like and a sponge. Spray the window and scrub until the outside frame is clean. This will help the caulk stick to the window frame.
Step 2
Use a razor blade to clean out the old built-up caulk from under the window ledges. Keep scraping until you have removed as much as possible. If your blade goes dull get a new one and continue until you have removed all the old caulking.
Step 3
Use the cleaner to spray behind the frame. Wipe out as much dirt and caulk as possible with a rag and leave what you can’t get to. Give the spray time to dry before proceeding to the next step.
Step 4
Tape off the area around the window to keep the caulk from getting onto the side of the RV. Leave a small gap (about 1/8 of an inch) between the frame and the tape so you can apply the caulk.
Step 5
Pull open the cap on the caulk and snip off the tip with a pair of scissors. Break the inner seal after you cut off the tip. After you have broken the seal, insert the tube into the gun. Wear a set of gloves and caulk one side of the frame, pushing the caulk into the crack with the gloves. Finish the other sides and go back over the spots you missed.

lilikoi's avatar

Perhaps some silicone caulk would do the trick.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I agree that this may be from ice dams on the eaves. The leakage right now is nothing you can do anything about until all the snow and ice is gone from the roof. Just mop up the water.

As a prevention, there are three things you can do:

*Add attic or roof isulation.The ice dams are caused by heat leakage from the house, as explained by @grumpyfish and @CyanoticWasp .

*Install electrical heat tracing on the roof eaves. This will prevent the re-freezing that creates the dams.

“Get a snow rake. This is a device that looks like an oversized squeegie with handle sections that can make up to 25+ feet long. Use this to pull down the snow accumulation from the roof. This is a standard household item in the north country. This also prevents a buildup of snow and ice from overloading your roof structure.

P.S. Welcome to Fluther!

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