Roofing Repair and Carpenter Ants

    I went out on a service call to repair a leaky roof.  The owner noticed some water in his closet and water stains on the wall.  Upon inspecting the roof, I found a roof valley running into a wall.  The shingles were older three tab roofing that was getting near the end of their life.  The step flashing was rusty and pretty well deteriorated on one side of the valley. The other side of the valley had been recently repaired and had new shingles and step flashing.

     The owner told me he had purchased the house about a year ago and a roofer had done some repairs and given him a roof certification.  I assumed the leak was coming from the older portion of the roof and went to work stripping off the damaged roofing, removed the siding and step shingles and  worked my way down toward the gutters.  The roof had been installed over an older roof that was really in bad shape.  It made it very difficult to see clearly where the roof was leaking.  I removed a 3 ft. wide path of roofing and found some rot at the gutter and replaced  a couple of boards. 

     Next I glued down some 30 lb. felt with asphalt emulsion and started weaving in the new shingles and new step flashing working my way up the wall toward the valley.  When I got to the valley, as added insurance against leaks, I  put asphalt emulsion under every shingle.  I felt pretty confident that the roof would be impervious to leaks; at least in this area.   It was time to clean up, load up my ladders and tools and call it a day.   It was perfect timing, because it was starting to sprinkle.  It rained hard for two days and then my phone rang.

    Bummer, the closet still had water coming in.  I dropped what I was working on and jumped in my truck to go over and check it out.  I really hate it when things like this happen.  Sure enough the plywood under the carpet was wet. 

    I went up in the attic to see if I could see exactly where the leak was and it appeared to be coming in from the sidewall, just up from where I had done all of my repairs.  I picked up some insulation to see how wet things might be and the whole area underneath, looked like a pile of sawdust or dirt I poked at it and the pile began wiggling and moving.  Ants swarmed out and began repairing the damage to their nest.  I broke the bad news to the owner, and let him know I would return the next morning.

     The next day I went up on the roof and made more repairs, this time replacing the roofing and flashing that I had assumed to be good.  I found a missing piece of step flashing 6" above where I had stopped two days before.  The lesson for me is to never assume that a previous repair was done correctly. Attending Hard Knocks University is never fun and a few hours of warranty work, doesn't help pay the bills. 

     I next removed the siding below the roof line to figure out where all of these ants were coming from.  The siding was old and brittle, so it was tedious and careful work. 

     Underneath was a super highway of ant traffic.  They had eaten all of the sheathing, including the asphalt emulsion face.  The picture at left is insect damage.  I did not remove any of the sheathing, they ate it all and built their nest from the digested material.

     I removed more siding and the insulation and cut the sheathing back to the studs.  The whole colony began to rain down on me and I knew the meaning of the children's poem.  "I have ants in my pants, and I do the boogie dance!"

     Fortunately, the ants all shook off, with only a few bites.  (Carpenter ant bites are not very painful )  I did have that feeling that bugs were crawling on my skin for a while.

    I removed the siding below this area down to the concrete porch and found where the ants were coming in from the ground.  The slab, abutted the poured concrete foundation and the ants were coming in between the small space of the expansion crack.  After removing all of the ants and nest materials, I called it a day.

     I started the next day by pouring a gallon of Black Guard Ant and Insect Killer  into the crack, it all drained rapidly into the space.  Next I replaced the affected lumber and added blocking.  I treated all exposed spaces and wood with Copper based 'Termin 8 to block any future infestation, and then sprayed everything down with insecticide. 

     Now it was time to put everything back together.  New Insulation and sheathing, then carefully putting the brittle siding back.  Some of the siding had to be glued back together.  It was a combed vertical face tongue and groove fir siding that would have been next to impossible to find, but it all went back together nicely.  I left thinking about that scripture, "Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth."  Just change the verse to, "Behold how great a matter a little drop causeth."  Fortunately it was found before the damage was severe.


Allyson Ripple said...

Congratulations for the job well done! Good thing you figured out all the problems immediately and came up with the necessary and right solutions.
I just hope you were able to advise the owner on how to clean, inspect and maintain his home to avoid these problems in the future. :)
{Allyson Ripple}

rocky jhony said...

Carpenter ants are drawn to areas with high moisture levels. Indoors they are typically seen in bathrooms, basement/sump pump areas, laundry areas, along sweating/leaking pipes and crawl spaces. Outdoors, they may be found in rotting wood of tree stumps and roots, and in moist areas of felt roof repair.

Liquid Rubber Uses said...

Carpenter Ants are wood-destroying members of the ant family. They live in most areas of the United States and feed on other insects and a variety of human foods.I tell u that choose best roofing company and destroy it easily.
Liquid Rubber Uses

Liquid roof Coatings said...

Check the structural strength of the wood that has been colonized by ants, replacing that which is weak and rotten. Repair all roof leaks and correct condensation problems, which attract carpenter ants. It is best to use pressure-treated lumber where there is soil-wood contact. Otherwise treat all exposed wood liberally with wood preservatives to prevent carpenter ant infestation.

Liquid roof Coatings

Marc said...

A picture is worth a 1000 words! Ugly infestation here. These ants can do a lot of damage if left unoticed.

You to have done a great job. Have they searched for exterior nests? The queen is usually not inside and can live for 15 years or more. They might come back...


Michel Earl said...

Great post. Roof repair is highly essential for the damaged roofs. Al the idea are just excellent. Thank you for sharing this article.
Roof Repair

Jason shwartz said...

It really sounds like there are a lot of options when it comes to finding out the best way to fix a roof. What really is interesting was that you mentioned so many different ways to fix roofs. Your first trial really seemed like something that was a sure fire thing. In the end though it sounds like it worked out. Thank you for sharing.

Casey Jones said...

Oh man, that must have been a real bummer finding those carpenter ants near the roof. I am glad you were able to kill most of the ants! Hopefully you'll be able to get that roof repaired and get rid of the ant problem.

Fred Summers said...

It's amazing how a older roofs can have such issues without anyone knowing. Sometimes it is hard to tell if there is a problem until something starts leaking. Getting those ants all over you must not have been very fun. Good thing you were able to catch it before too much damage was done. roofing repair