What I'm Seeing Now


A Tale Of Two Ceilings. When A Seller Tries To Hide A Serious Leak.

A tale of two ceilings.  When a seller tries to hide a serious leak.

It was the best of ceilings, it was the worst of ceilings.  It was the age of freshly repaired and painted, it was the age of foolishness.  It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.

Being able to reach 8' high, I always put my flashlight at a severe angle against ceilings to see if there have been drywall repairs.

Often I find them.

Virginia is a non-disclosure state - the seller does not have to say anything as regards the condition or the history of a house.  So the home inspection is a crucial part of the buying process.

In this house the ceiling showed a couple of repairs, and one that looked very suspiciously like a homeowner had done it.  The repair was what you see, very sloppy, and the ceiling was freshly painted.  But there were other repaired spots.

Obviously the seller wanted to either hide a serious problem, or make a buyer think the problem had been fixed.  There was "the epoch of belief , it was the epoch of incredulity."

Putting a moisture meter against the spot you see in the photo it registered 100%.

And looking at the area with an itchy and excited Mighty Mo the spot in the photo above was visible as a small blue area near the lower left.

But much more revealed itself!

Moving the moisture meter around to those other areas it registered moisture here and there, but nothing 100%.

It was time for the water test!

This dining room was under the master bathroom, so I went upstairs, turned on the sink and shower, and flushed the toilet twice, kept the water running, and returned to the dining room.

Getting there the thermal camera revealed that moisture had already started moving onto the ceiling.  After about three minutes the ceiling looked like the image on the right.  There was an active leak from the bathroom above! 

Immediately turning off the water, we could safely say that there was a problem with the bathroom!

It was "the age of freshly repaired and painted, it was the age of foolishness."

Had no thermal camera been available it is likely that this leaking may never have been found!  And later, after moving into the house, the sellers could have said they didn't know it was leaking, and the home inspector would have looked incompetent.


That is not nice.  I have discovered and disabled many booby traps before they blew up in my face.

My recommendation:  this is why home inspectors in Virginia are required to carry Errors and Omissions insurance!   And this is why THIS home inspector does not do inspections if the buyers and/or agent are not present.  The booby traps are out there!  Home inspections are serious business, and home inspectors need to fill their quivers with great tools.  My thermal camera is the sharpest arrow in my tool quiver.



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 11 commentsJay Markanich • May 15 2017 11:00AM
A Tale Of Two Ceilings. When A Seller Tries To Hide A Serious Leak.
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