Eight Years Having "Repairs" Done - And It Was Something Else?

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

How would you like to be a homeowner for eight years having "repairs" done - and it was something else?

From the moment these folks moved into their new house, when wind drove rain from the north, they had leaks all over the house.

The front of the house has a brick facade and faces due north.  Those are two important clues.

The builder, and then various contractors, for eight years, have returned time and again to caulk, goop caulk over caulk, goop more caulk and add counter flashing over the counter flashing.  NOTHING WORKED!

Finding me on line, they called and asked if I could evaluate the problem.  Sure!  They live about 300 yards from me!  It had rained four days earlier and they had leaks.  It's Saturday evening, and I don't work Sundays, so, not wanting to wait until Monday and have things dry out more, I went right over.  My thermal camera, Mighty Mo, was good enough to go with me.

Examining the outside first, I noticed that the wood trim of every single window was rotting in every lower corner.

BIG CLUE!  Water is coming from the inside out.

Each window had been caulked many times, all around the trim.  So many times it was ugly.  Obviously that did not solve the problem.

I wanted to see the windows, top floor first.

They said that nobody had ever wanted to see the windows before.

WHY NOT?  THE WINDOWS ARE THE PROBLEM!

The brick work had been put right up to the windows.  Each window was framed with wood trim. 

Each window has a drain hole in the track that the sash comes down into.  BUT THERE WAS NO WHERE FOR THE WATER TO GO!  Look how the water fills up the track before it slowly drains away!

No window had provision for the water getting into the hole to escape.  If water cannot escape where does it go?

INTO THE HOLE AND DOWN!  Why?  Because gravity works.

 

Imaging from outside, and then the inside, the story becomes clear.

The left image is the wood framing just outside the window hole in the photo above.  Every corner of every window looks like this image.  The center image is the wall inside and under that same hole.  The right image is the ceiling of the garage below.

For the purposes of this blog, cooler temperatures (and therefore, in this case, moisture) are represented by lavender, blue and dark purple colors.

THIS IS FOUR DAYS AFTER THE RAIN.

The moisture meter registered >30%, indicating active moisture intrusion, with moisture still present, in every window sill and every wall under the windows.  Imagine what it is like during the rain!

The homeowners report that as soon as the rain stops, the dripping stops.  And it drips under every window in the house.  That should have been a clue to every "repair" person who came to the house. 

So what is the problem?  THE WINDOW INSTALLATION!  From day one.  Will the builder fix it now that eight years have passed?  Likely not.

My recommendation:  if after many visits to "repair" a problem, and the same "repair" is repeated over and over, it might just be that the "repair" isn't working!  IF THE PROBLEM ISN'T WHAT EVERYONE SAYS IT IS, IT HAS TO BE SOMETHING ELSE!  Call a home inspector!  Especially one with Mighty Mo!  He might just be able to figure it out!  Thermal imaging is best practice!  And remember, all thermographers are really cute.


 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Comments 51 New Comment

Rainmaker
1,165,824
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Chris - they did the "obvious" I think, which is a form of busy work.  Why one keeps doing it is unknown to me.

September 17, 2012 03:14 AM
Rainmaker
615,260
James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

Why is caulk though of as a repair? Or if a little doesn't work, add more. 

September 18, 2012 05:38 AM
Rainmaker
1,165,824
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

And read the label!  It says that any more than 1/4" is less effective!  And should silicone be used with mortar and brick Jim?  Why do they always use silicone?

September 18, 2012 05:41 AM
Rainer
22,511
Spectrum Inspection Group
Spectrum Inspection Group

Thermal imaging guns are a life saver!  We use them on all of our inspections and they have made a pretty big difference!  Excellent post!

September 19, 2012 04:52 PM
Rainmaker
1,165,824
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Thanks Spectrum.  I really love mine.  While I can't say I use it on every inspection, I consider it the sharpest arrow in my quiver.

September 19, 2012 05:02 PM
Rainmaker
1,165,824

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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