Unless it’s contained in a sink, pipe, or directed with intention and control in confined areas, water is typically the greatest threat to building structures. While issues such as roof leaks, pipe leaks, and crawl space flooding usually get all the headlines, water damage can also appear through more subtle means.
Case-in-point: I recently came across a home during a Sedro-Woolley inspection, where I noticed a vulnerable, uplifted flashing detail. Flashing is a thin layer of waterproof material that prevents water from penetrating areas where it may cause damage (such as the interface of a roof and siding, or a deck and siding).
Bottom line: pay attention to these seemingly small details because they may save you some big money.
If you have questions or comments about flashing details or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).
Moisture meters are awesome! They detect underlying saturation not visible to the eye which, caught early enough, is easily fixed and avoids water and insect damage. I use my moisture meter at every inspection, and I consider it one of the best tools in my arsenal.
Recently—during an inspection of a house in Bow—I used my moisture meter on a bathroom linoleum floor. During my testing, I noted saturation between the toilet and shower when I probed it with a moisture meter, suggesting a likely plumbing leak from the toilet (and possibly the shower). As a result, I recommend further evaluation and repair by a contractor.
Do you have questions or comments about moisture issues in your home? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).
Inspecting a home in the San Juan Islands, I recently discovered at least one (1) foot of water throughout the crawl space! This, of course, rendered the crawl space inaccessible to inspection. Standing water in crawl spaces, regardless of season, puts the building’s structure at risk of settlement, water and insect damage. If you have standing water conditions in your crawl space, you should have them addressed promptly; the longer you wait, the more expensive the repair becomes.
Tim Hance discovered deteriorated OSB eave (soffit) sheathing at a recent inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. In this case, the lack of a metal drip-edge flashing detail at the edge of OSB sheathing (under the gutter) appears to be the contributing factor. Amazingly, installing such a drip-edge flashing detail isn’t required. If you intend to re-roof your home, I recommend having the roofing contractor install drip edge flashing everywhere, e.g., at all edges of the roof. This will help prevent potential water damage. Here, this owner will need to replace a fairly significant amount of sheathing, together with some roof work, which might prove expensive.
Pictured here is active water intrusion (wet spot) and historic water intrusion (water stains) discovered within a side attic at a recent home inspection in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island. Obviously, a roofing contractor will need to further evaluate and make necessary repairs. The issue at this home, unfortunately, is that the ceilings were vaulted (e.g., no attic access) so without invasive inspection, one really doesn’t know what’s going on behind ceiling finishes. With water intrusion, water related issues like mold, deterioration and insect activity should be suspected. Ultimately, I’m not sure if this client heeded my advice to invasive inspect, but I’m hopeful he did.
At a recent Anacortes Home Inspection, I discovered an oddly situated exterior hose bib located directly above a crawl space foundation vent. Running the bib, as you can see in the video below, completely filled the vent well which eventually would run water into the crawl space. Evidence of historic water intrusion was noted in the crawl space, this being the likely historic contributing factor. Standing water in crawl spaces puts the building at risk of structural settlement, moisture related issues and WDO (wood destroying insect) activity and damage. If you see standing water in your crawl space, deal with it sooner than later.
Are your siding nails inset within the siding boards themselves, like those pictured here? If so, it’s either because (a) the nails were overdriven or more likely (b) the siding is swelling and expanding with moisture. Inset nails need to be sealed to prevent moisture intrusion which can lead to deterioration. For siding discovered at this home inspection in Freeland on Whidbey Island, substantially swelled/deteriorated siding needed to be replaced.
At a recent Oak Harbor home inspection, I discovered deterioration, rot and water damage at the interface between the deck and exterior siding. This interface really should be flashed with a metal flashing detail to prevent water intrusion which can lead to WDO (wood destroying insect) activity and water damage. When deterioration is presenting at this interface, there’s always the possibility of underlying structural damage not visible without invasive inspection. A qualified contractor should further evaluate, invasively, to determine the extent of deterioration and make necessary repairs.
With modern technology- moisture meters and infrared thermography- home inspectors can find water issues that aren’t visible with the naked eye. This photograph shows underlying saturation adjacent a toilet that needs to be reset with a new wax ring. Hopefully there isn’t underlying damage; they’ll find out when the toilet is pulled. I use moisture meters to probe around toilets, showers, sinks, dishwashers, and any suspicious areas to confirm elevated moisture conditions. It’s a valuable tool for sure. This photograph was taken at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.
Standing water was discovered at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands. If you see standing water or water intrusion in your crawl space, it’s important to deal with it sooner than later as standing water can lead to structural settling and WDO (wood destroying insect) activity/damage in the home, together with moisture related issues within. The longer water intrusion persists, the more expensive the fix typically becomes.