Tag Archives: water intrusion


Evidence of historic water intrusion is something I come across regularly. In reality, it can be tricky (and often impossible) to determine when intrusion first occurred or when it last occurred. Luckily, I have a few tools in my detective handbag to help.

During a recent inspection in San Juan County, I noted evidence of historic water intrusion—presenting as visible water stains and prior patching repairs—at a downstairs bedroom ceiling. 

When I see these kinds of scenarios, one of my most effective tools is the moisture meter. I’ve written about the value of moisture meters in the past, and encourage you to become familiar with them if you are not already.

I’ve experienced a reasonable degree of success after asking previous owners or tenants for historical information related to the issue.

In this case, my meter did not indicate elevated moisture at the time of inspection. Therefore, I recommended that my clients monitor the area for recurrence into the future and to make repairs if noted.

If you have questions or comments about interior issues or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

Two Vapor Barriers and Standing Water in Crawl Space

Tim Hance of All Islands Home Inspections discovered two (2) or more vapor barriers in a crawl space filled with water at a recent Anacortes, WA home inspection. The reason that two (2) or more vapor barriers is frowned upon is because water, if it enters the crawl space, can become entrapped between vapor barriers, prolonging evaporation time and leading to stagnant water conditions. Here in the Pacific NW, water intrusion into a crawl space or basement should be dealt with promptly as it can lead to structural damage/settling and insect activity (e.g., carpenter ants, anobiid beetles and Pacific Dampwood termites are attracted to moist areas). In this particular case, the installation of a perimeter curtain drain was recommended to the clients by a licensed contractor.

Active water intrusion

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.

VIDEO: Standing Water in Crawl Space

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.

Water Intrusion in Crawl Spaces

Water intrusion under homes is an issue that is somewhat common in the Pacific Northwest, but very important to repair.  Water intrusion and standing water conditions in crawl spaces are most often the result of (1) water intrusion from the exterior (e.g., failed/insufficient perimeter footing drains, gutter downspouts discharging directly adjacent the home, lack of gutters at eaves, improper grading not sloped away from the home, water intrusion directly through the foundation wall itself) or (2) a plumbing leak in the crawl space.  Less likely- and really quite rare- is a local spring underneath the home itself which, if you have one, it just needs to be directed out of the crawl space through ditching, drain rock and perforated piping. Continue reading


What is “Public Enemy No. 1” for homeowners? 


Unchecked, water can create havoc for homeowners—a scenario exceptionally accurate for a home’s structure. This month’s infographic will help you determine four steps you can take to protect your home from water damage.

Do you have questions or comments about home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).


Every month, we seek to bring our readers insight from the worlds of home construction, home repair, and home maintenance straight from local Northwest Washington contractors in a segment we call “3 Questions.” Yep, you guessed it: we ask three questions, and the contractors answer them.

This month, we learn about structural issues with Paul Vierthaler, president at Island Excavating, Inc., in Eastsound. 

Q1: Water intrusion can plague many homes here in the Pacific Northwest, and summertime can be a great time to take care of it. What’s your preferred method for repairing water intrusion issues under a home?

Dig down along the foundation wall to below the footing, and replace the old perforated drain pipe. Drain, clean and waterproof the wall, add battle matt against the wall. Backfill to the surface using clean drain rock. Run all roof drains to daylight and away from the foundation.

Q2: If exterior lot drainage improvements aren’t practical or effective, what are some methods employed to deal with water intrusion under a home?

Sump pumps as a last resort

Q3: Where do you send all that water to anyway (city vs. rural)? 

Storm drains in the city, dispersion trenches for rural areas.

About Island Excavating

Island Excavating, Inc. been in business on Orcas Island since 1970. Privately owned for 30 years, in 2000 the business was sold to the employees and restructured as an ESOP (employee stock ownership program). Employees receive full benefits, and stock in the company as a retirement plan. Island Excavating employees are professionals; most of them are employed over 20 years with the company. They are the proud owners and invested caretakers of this evolving enterprise. These strong relationships have extended far into the community and Island Excavating takes deep pride in the fact that the company provides financial and in-kind support to numerous community projects and organizations.Island Excavating is prepared for all manner of situations and can cleanly and efficiently solve problems and finish jobs to an astonishing degree. 

A big “thanks” to Paul for his responses!If you have questions or comments about structural issues or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).


So, you’ve done the right thing in your crawl space and insulated water supply pipes. All is good, right?

Not so fast. 

During a recent visit to a home on Lopez Island, I came across this unfortunate issue: copper water pipes showing substantial corrosion—such as calcification deposits—despite the fact they were tucked into insulation. 

However, insulation is useless and even harmful when it displays signs of moisture intrusion. In this case, that’s the precise scenario I encountered.

The prognosis wasn’t good because the majority of the water supply piping was concealed behind pipe insulation. Therefore, much to my dismay, I had to recommend that all the water supply piping underneath the home be further evaluated by a qualified plumbing contractor to make repairs as deemed necessary. The only way to do that is to remove the insulation and take a look.

To learn more about protecting your pipes, Home Depot recently created a “how-to” video on the topic. Hope it helps you!

Questions or comments about plumbing or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).


Your brick (veneer) house may be able to stand up to the “Big Bad Wolf,” but can it stand up to a Western Washington weather?

If you own a home that features brick or brick veneer, water intrusion may seem unlikely, but it’s most definitely not. Both solid brick and brick veneer homes are not waterproof, and care must be taken to protect these elements.

With that in mind, I recently came across an Anacortes home with brick veneer experiencing deterioration. Unfortunately, some of its exterior walls featured spalling mortar and bricks chipping in various areas. To help combat these issues, I always recommend applying a masonry sealant to repel water and prevent future elevated moisture. Freezing conditions—common here in the Pacific Northwest—combined with moisture can lead to brick surfaces that flake and create “soft spots” in the mortar.

Questions or comments about exterior siding maintenance or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and let us know at @AIHomeInspect