GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Having new 30yr architectural shingles in multi-level roofs in my home. Terrible noxious odor comes in house.

GBA Editor | Posted in General Questions on

Noxious odor comes in house. Now in the central air conditioning unit as well. Can’t open the windows, can’t put on the air conditioner. Getting symptoms from this. Had to spend three days in a hotel because of heat wave we had and the inability to cool down house and rid house of noxious fumes.

Contacted GAF (company that manufactures the shingles). They say take it up with the contractor and have hime get an HVAC man. Contractor not cooperating.

Can you give me some information as to:

1. the dangers of inhaling these fumes.

2. additional symptoms.

3. HOW TO GET IT OUT-GASED in a hurry.

4. possible recourse

Thanks! Pat

P.S. rsvp asap – it is appreciated

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. Christopher Briley | | #1

    Something to think about, I'd wager that out-gassing smell is not so much the shingles as it is the bituminous Ice and water shield product. I'm also going to guess that your roof sheathing is made up of boards as opposed to a sheet product like plywood or OSB? It would explain how the outgassing smell is coming in. Also is this a catherdral style roof assembly? or an attic situation? is it vented or unvented?

  2. Lisa | | #2

    Pat and Chris,

    I am having the same problem. My new roof/shingles were installed several years ago and we experience the same terrible odor and symptoms every summer. I fear it is making us all sick. Please share whatever information you find on this issue.


  3. Anonymous | | #3

    my son just had a new roof put on. Bad order in family room with catherdahl roof. Also water come down walls from ceiling in other rooms Need help

  4. Riversong | | #4

    I agree with Christopher. The shingles are unlikely to be the source of the problem, but Ice & Water Shield used as underlayment (the most overused junk building product on the market after OSB) can certainly outgas when heated (which, of course, never happens on a roof).

    From the Grace MSDS:
    "Inhalation: If heated, inhalation of vapor causes irritation, sore throat, coughing and breathing difficulty. Effects include: Nausea, headache, dizziness and irritation."

    From their installation manual:
    "Due to its slight asphaltic odor, do not apply Grace Select, Grace Ice & Water Shield, Grace Ultra or
    Grace Basik where the membrane is exposed to interior living areas. Grace Ice & Water Shield, Grace Select and Grace Basik are not compatible with EPDM. Grace underlayments are not compatible with polysulfides, flexible PVC, high concentrations of resin (pitch) and other substances. (See Technical Letter #5.)...Certain product applications are prohibited in hot desert areas in the southwestern United States."

  5. davidmeiland | | #5

    I would get someone else out there--not your contractor, not your roofer, not the GAF rep. A competent home inspector might be the right person, but whatever the case, it needs to be someone experienced who can investigate all of the products installed, and how they were installed. You might find someone by posting on or using their inspector search.

    There are a lot of peel 'n stick products out there for roofing and waterproofing, and some of them do not work well in high temps--they basically melt. I'd like to think that roofers in your area would know which to use, but they might also be prone to using whatever's cheapest or leftover on the truck.

    And... just curious... do you have HVAC ductwork and/or an air handler in the attic?

  6. 50_Pascals | | #6

    Where are these smelly roofs located?

    And Just for the record and a bit of a correction on Robert Riversong.

    W.R. Grace makes the best ice and water shield product on the market. There are plenty of junk imposters. And if you want to riddle them with holes (like most roofers do) none will work.

    I called Grace a few years back specifically about their hot climate wording quoted above. They told me they have a different product for those areas that is "stiffer" or "less gooey" if you will. I suspect a roll of the grace sold in the NE would turn to liquid in the sun in Arizona.

    Sounds like a question for two of my friends. I'll post back, but probably not within the week.


  7. Riversong | | #7

    Robert S,

    No need for a "correction" since I didn't suggest that Grace products were any worse than other similar products, but rather that self-adhering flexible flashings cause more problems than they solve, are unnecessary in most applications, and are drastically over-used.

    It is often used as a bandaid in lieu of proper construction or alteration. For instance, a properly vented roof with adequate insulation and air barrier needs no protection from either ice dams or incidental roofing leakage.

    Sidewalls with adequate and properly-installed WRBs don't need any additional protection and certainly don't need wrong-side vapor barriers or barriers that rely on chemical adhesion for long-term protection.

    Non-stick membranes are almost always less problematic than self-adhering ones, and each of the two common types of self-adhering membranes have compatibility issues with other common building materials.

    This is a summary of Martin Holladay's JLC article reprinted in

    Compatibility is not limited to other materials. Some flashing tapes are not compatible with cold applications and some are specifically prohibited from being used in very hot applications. Most are not compatible with long UV exposure.

    Most self-adhering flashing tapes are either asphalt modified with styrene butadiene styrene (SBS), called rubberized asphalt, or are butyl rubber based. Either type will have a polyethylene or foil or EPDM outer surface. The foil-covered tapes are more UV-resistant for longer exposure times. The EPDM-covered tapes are thicker and more expensive and used primarily for permanently exposed areas such as roofs and parapets.

    The butyl tapes are better for cold-weather applications, and there are also non-sticking tapes which will, of course, work in any weather. Butyl is also better for very sunny or hot locations. Grace Construction Products specifically prohibits the use of its Vycor Plus flashing in "hot desert areas in the Southwestern U.S." Similarly, Carlisle Coatings warns that its product, Window and Door Flashing, is "not recommended in areas where flashing will be subject to continuous exposure to sunlight or to temperatures in excess of 180°F."

    Oozing of asphalt tapes is not necessarily a compatibility issue but a temperature issue. Butyl tapes are incompatible with any asphalt material (such as roofing cement), so use asphalt tape on asphalt products. The butyl will absorb the oils in asphalt and lose its adhesion. The jury is out about using them on asphalt felt paper.

    Rubberized asphalt tapes are incompatible with soft vinyl (but not hard vinyl) as their oils will dissolve the plasticizers, and they can cause staining. If using caulk behind window flanges causes concern about compatibility, then use staple-up non-stick flashing tape (except in horizontal applications like sill pans).

    Some manufacturers recommend priming concrete, masonry, gypsum and OSB substrates before applying tape (for better adhesion), particularly in cold weather (when it's too cold to prime!), but there may be compatibility issues with primers so be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

    Most manufacturers recommend applying their tapes with J-rollers, which is rarely done. But failing to do so may void their warranty.

    Other problems with peel-n-stick flashings is long-term adhesion and creating a wrong-side vapor barrier. Joe Lstiburek warns against relying on the adhesive for water-proofing. In a test by JLC of 21 flashing tapes on wood for 14 hours, half of them failed. Covering large areas, such as the splash-back area under siding, may create condensation problems from the inside.

    And there is no consensus about whether flashing tapes perform better behind or on top of the housewrap. Placing them directly on the sheathing protects against possible drainage behind the housewrap. Placing them over the housewrap, some believe, makes the envelope more breatheable and less likely to trap moisture.

    Here is an article by a forensic window failure specialist about using caulk behind flashings and either no tape or non-adhesive tape:

    And below is from Builder News:

    Compatibility issues between building materials caused early failure of housewraps as well as failures in balcony decking materials, moisture barriers and other envelope components. Selection of caulking and flashing should be based on compatibility with the primary weather-resistant barrier material.

    • Polyurethane sealants do not bond to polyethylene moisture barrier materials. Acceptable sealants for polyethylene are elastomeric compounds, butyl rubber and polymers designed for polyethylene air barriers.

    • EPDM membranes become brittle when in contact with asphalt-based flashings. When installing EPDM membranes on decking roofs or when using Pro-Installer Moldblocker Housewrap (a woven EPDM material), use only compatible flashing tape.

    • Early asphaltic materials stained and caused damage to vinyl window frames. Butyl rubber and some new types of asphalt flashing tape don’t have this problem, but builders are advised to verify compatibility of specific products with window manufacturers.

    • Solvents in asphaltic materials also damage polyurethane sealants to the point of delamination or failure of both materials. Schnee-Morehead PolyFoam is the only foam caulk that does not degrade or react with asphalt-based products.

  8. BAHPx87c5K | | #8

    I would suggest talking to someone from biosweep
    they are odor removal specialists
    very friendly and helpful
    my local ones website is here , but im sure if you did a search just for biosweep you could find a local provider?

Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |