Ask The Expert


Hello Robert,

I own a large apartment building with over 100 units. After the last rain there was four inches of standing water on the roof. There are no roof drains and the roof is almost like a bowl. What do you recommend I do to address this problem? Is there anything that can be done short of building a new roof? Thank you,

George T.

Hi George,

A 100 unit complex has a massive roof and four inches of standing water is a tremendous amount of weight. This is an incredible amount of stress being added to that building.

I would take a submersible pump up there immediately. Get one that sits very low to the roof and get that water pumped off of there as soon as possible. Place the pump at the lowest point and get started. What you’re talking about here is more than enough weight to collapse a roof.

I would recommend bringing a roofer out there to discuss your options. Other than a new roof, a couple of options would be to build it up by putting in crickets. These are just a way to elevate the roof and get the water to move away from the low lying areas and into the downspouts. Or, you could put in roof drains.

Once the roofer performs a visual inspection, he will be able to tell you pricing and recommendations based on your situation.

What you should have, what the building department wants to see, is no water on the roof 72 hours after the rain.

Hi Robert,

We enjoy your column so much. My husband and I live in Pasadena and go out to one of the local coffee shops every Saturday with my daughter and son-in-law where we always get the paper and read your column.

Our home is 80 years old and we have lived there for 40 of those years. We’ve had our roof redone recently but we continue to get water inside our home. My husband did what you recommended with a garden hose and a water test and opened up some drywall and found that the water is coming through the stucco and into our home. How is this possible? Thank you very much,

Marlene H.

Hi Marlene,

You’ve touched on a big misconception. A lot of people think that stucco is waterproof, but it’s not. As you now know, stucco is porous. It’s the paper, the felt, that keeps the water out of your house.

Your husband needs to keep opening the drywall until he can see exactly where the water is getting in. You’ll find that the paper is bad and needs to be replaced, especially since the building is 80 years old.

If the paper is bad all over, then unfortunately you’re going to have to remove all of the stucco and start from scratch. This will require permits.

You should also check the status of your home. As old as it is, it may have a historical home designation with the city. Pasadena has many such homes. You can incur large fines if you remove or alter something on a historical building without the involvement of the City. So, find out everything you can before beginning any type of repair.

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Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as commercial General, Electrical and Plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.

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