Little hole. Big leak.
It was a little hole in the TPO covering of a veranda outside a master bedroom.
TPO is a Thermoplastic Olefin material, a single-membrane roof/balcony covering which is pretty tough and has a life span of 15 years or so in the sun.
This veranda was 12 years old.
But no single-membrane anything can withstand a hole.
This veranda was about 15'x20' or so.
There was room to walk around and to sit. There was comfortable furniture.
It overlooked woods, and a large meadow. What a great space!
And the buyer wants to preserve it, so this hole was an issue!
How can we know the little hole was an issue?
With a thermal camera!
The hole above can be seen in the thermal image as the small bubble near the lower left corner.
Moisture can be seen moving from it toward the left.
And a puddle UNDER the TPO can be seen as having formed to the right. It is cooler because at this moment, about 830am, the sun was not up for very long to influence this moisture spot, so it was cooler than the surrounding areas having been influenced by the cool of the night.
The roof deck was dry at this point, but we have had rain in the past few days.
So what you see in the image was not visible walking on the surface.
More movement of moisture can be seen toward the right. And further to the right of this image there was a large soft spot, a circle about 3' in diameter. So this leaking has not only been happening for a while, but has caused softness in the underlayment.
This moisture would be visible in no other way. A thermal camera can "see" it, but you and I cannot.
The softness might have been felt, but no one would know that it was moisture related.
My recommendation: thermal cameras are worth their weight in gold. Their ability to detect, analyze and determine circumstances is fabulous. Mighty Mo is a great companion, and detective, and analyzer. He can see things you and I cannot. But better that he does, so the buyer of this house will not inherit a hidden issue that one day might become a big, big deal.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560