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Roofing/Roof Adhesive Smell 9 Months Later

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Question
Hi, Tom.  We had our roof (shingles) replaced 9 months ago in September.  When they were replacing it, there was a strong smell, which I assume was the adhesive.  I assumed that the smell would decrease with time.  Once the cooler months came, I didn't smell the adhesive anymore and assumed the issue was resolved.  However, now that it's been warm again, the smell has come back and is just as strong, if not actually stronger, than it was when the work had just been done!  I mean it is a very strong smell - so strong that I got a minor headache today when I took a nap upstairs.  I can only smell it upstairs (the entire upstairs level), and it is especially strong in my walk-in closet (I think there is no attic above that room in the house).

So, I'm wondering if you've ever heard of such a thing, if you have any idea what the issue might be, and if there is any way to resolve it.

Thank you.

Answer
Sounds like they may have spilled some glue- when applying adhesive to the membrane and insulation the installer will generally use a thin coat on each. Once the adhesive has dried the surfaces are mated together and pressed together to push out any air bubbles.

If you're still smelling adhesive then they either used too much or spilled some glue that has gone under the roof deck. It will eventually gas out and the smell will stop (maybe/probably).

I'm not sure of the adhesive brand your contractor used so I couldn't say exactly what you're smelling; many adhesives use hexane, toluene, methyl ethyl ketone and many others in combination in the product. Where I live (Northern Virginia)all construction adhesives and sealants are low VOC (volatile organic compounds) and have very little to no odor. I couldn't say whether the fumes you are breathing are harmful- but inhaling anything listed above is certainly bad for your health.
It would be my advice for you to contact the installer/ contractor and tell him what's going on,  nine months is a really long time to still be smelling solvents. If you get no satisfaction I would consult inspector or company that deals with indoor air quality in your area,  they may be able to track down the source of the smell or analyze what it actually is.

Good luck, please let me know how it works out.

Tom

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Tom Petrilli

Expertise

I can answer questions about residential and light commercial roofing. I really enjoy solving complicated problems. My expertise is in shingle, slate and traditional metals (copper, lead, terne, stainless) as well as single ply low slope roofing. I have also installed a considerable amount of synthetic slate.

Experience

I have been a roofer for 21 years, I've owned my own company for the past 13.

Organizations
The National Roofing Contractors Assoc and Virginia Association of Roofing Contractors

Education/Credentials
I have attended numerous manufacturer training programs as well as sought out experts in specialized work for instruction.

Awards and Honors
A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, A rating from Angies List, highest mark for quality and value from the Washington Consumer Checkbook

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