Leak

The Return of the Rains

The return of the winter rains have occurred in Salem, Oregon.    Although our wonderful indian summer was enjoyable, it prolonged my inability to find leaks effectively.

Now that a sufficient soaking rain has occurred I can once again find leaks that are not readily visible.

Check out this skylight I inspected recently:

Visual inspection of a leaking skylight on a Salem Oregon Home inspection

Looks good right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The visible surface of the drywall appeared to be just fine with no stains or bubbles or any tell tale signs of problems.  Thank goodness I have a highly advanced thermal camera:

Thermal image showing skylight roof leakage on a Salem Oregon home Inspection

Those blue areas are current moisture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am sad to see the sunshine go away but my effectiveness as a home inspector just went up a few notches!

Leaks in the Roof tracked back to Problems with Original Installation and some Ideas for a quick and dirty Tar Seal

The other day I helped a client with an unfortunate situation: her home’s roof was leaking.


The worst part of this issue was the fact that she had paid roofers to find and repair this leak multiple times.

This last summer she even had the drywall repaired under the leak
figuring that the roofers had actually done what they had been paid to
do.

By the time she got a hold of me she had reached the end of her
rope and was on the edge of tears. I told her that I would be happy to
come do an inspection to locate the leak and hopefully give her some unbiased answers.


When I got to her home she showed me the areas of concern. I crawled up
in her attic and there was little doubt as to the source of the leakage.
The valleys were soaking wet.


Roofing like other construction trades is relatively basic but just
because it’s basic does not mean that it should be slapped together any
old way. The installation guidelines must be strictly followed.
Something as simple as an additional bevel cut into the end of a shingle
can be the difference between proper installation an leakage.

There are many different ways to do a proper valley installation. Each style has their own particular guidelines.

This particular home had a “Closed cut valley.”

 

-1. The first part of this installation is the lining of the valley
with an additional layer of building paper or metal liner.
This layer
serves to be a ‘last line of defense’ if all of the other layers of
protection fail.

-This step was likely neglected on this particular
roof.


 

-2. The next step is that one entire roof slope (the smaller section of roof or lower slope) of shingles should be
installed completely and extended past the center line at least 12
inches.

-It is difficult to determine if this guideline was followed.


-3. The next step is to roof the other adjoining roof slope.  Along with this step the top edge of the shingles must be cut-back and beveled to prevent water infiltration. The acute angle that is at the tips of these extended shingles may
act as a scoop and funnel if they are not provided with an additional
cut to bevel this edge.

-This step was neglected on this roof.

-4. When all of the shingles that are close to the valley are fastened to the roof it is important to hold the
fasteners away from the center line of the valley at least six inches.

-This step was also not adhered to precisely.

The bad news is that my client has some work ahead of her.  She is not quite ready to sell and the rest of her roof has at least 5 more good years of service.  It is not a great financial decision to properly repair the valleys since the rest of her roof will need replacement in the near future. So what kind of patching options are there?

Since the valleys are the issue it is possible to seal the leaks with a generous coat of tar.  However most tar (flexible asphalt based sealers) are recommended to be installed when the surface is dry.  With a little research I found this stuff:

http://www.dewittproducts.com/catalog.asp?prodid=627618&showprevnext=1

This product claims that it is specially formulated to be installed upon wet surfaces! Sounds pretty good to me!

I also discovered a great little post from someone in a similar situation about how to apply the goop: http://www.hammerzone.com/archives/roof/patch1/tar/temporary.htm

The person in the above post makes it pretty clear that the tar is a TEMPORARY SEAL!!! This is an important point and as long as a good layer is reapplied in the summer my client should be leak free until she is ready to replace the entire roof.

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Secrete leak detector

A large part of home owner maintenance is paying attention to little things

Check here for leaks

Areas that are above or below the line of sight, tend to be the most neglected areas. Deterioration, rot and leaks can hide in these areas that are just out of sight.  These areas are the places that keep home inspectors in business.

Plumbing supply and waste lines are always in areas that are out of sight. Special attention needs to be paid to these pipes periodically. Small leaks under the sink, or worse, in the crawlspace, can lead to big issues.
For those of us that do not really want to go into the crawlspace…….  there is a secrete little leak detector on most water meters.

The little dial on most water meters have a little red or white triangle. The triangle will spin with very little water movement. This can be a pretty handy way to check for leaks without actually going into the crawlspace!

On a recent home inspection in Silverton, Oregon I noted the red triangle spinning.  No water was being used in the home……  The buyer and or seller now have some more investigation to do.

As an attentive homeowner you should check this “little thing” to ensure that your supply pipes are not leaking.

Where is this Water coming from?

Being an inspector equipped with a highly advance thermal camera I have been called upon to find quite a few leaks.

Leaks can be very frustrating and challenging. Our modern, climate controlled, super insulated and immaculately finished homes do not respond well to storm water on interior surfaces. Window sills swell, drywall turns brown, and wood floors crack. How rude it is when Mother Nature invites herself into the world we control.

A very interesting pattern has developed after a few dozen, “….help me find where this leak is coming from,” calls. A majority of the calls that were related to storm water had three significant things I common: the leakage could be noted in a window opening, the window was on the south side of the home and the siding was a lap type.

With properly installed flashing homes should not leak. However it is nearly impossible to ensure contractors install something properly especially if it is above and beyond those minimum building standards some call ‘codes’. Caulking is always a good first line of defense but if the openings are flashed properly, caulking should not even be needed to keep the home water tight.

Before all of our modern, space aged materials it was common knowledge to crack open a leeward window in windy and wet conditions. With a modern understanding of hydro-dynamics we now understand that when wind hits a home a low pressure vortex is actually created inside the home. This means that in windy, wet conditions water is not necessarily blown-in but pulled-in. When the window on the leeward side of the home is cracked open, the pressures are able to equalize. Many intermittent leaks can be slowed, stopped or completely prevented.

If you do have a leak around a window or door, your flashing is not adequate and should be repaired. This can potentially mean thousands of dollars. In the mean time, if the wind is blowing rain at your home, try cracking a window on the other side of the home.