What I'm Seeing Now


Ice Damming...

has lots of people around here saying, "Damn icing!"

So much snow in such a short amount of time can do little but build up at the bottoms of roofs as it melts.  That build up will be a problem sooner or later. 

I had a call yesterday from a couple in Reston, VA who were experiencing just that.  It is a case of cause and effect.  They were having leaking in what appeared to be two separate places.  There was dripping through canister lights in the kitchen ceiling, second level on one side of the house.  And there was a puddle of water in front of the master bathroom door, with no apparent source, on the third level of the other side of the house.

They found me by Googling thermal imaging.  I wanted to see things as they were happening, but I was busy all day.  The earliest I could get there might not be until 5pm or so.  No problem for them!  So there I went.

A few years ago they had an addition built onto the rear of the house, mimicking the design and materials of the original house.  It is fabulous, adding living space to all three levels.  There is a large porch off the side of that new blown-out kitchen, wrapping its way around the back of the house.  It is a great addition!

The photo to the left is the end of a small roof over a box window in the kitchen.  It abuts the house just under one master bedroom window.  The other end of that roof meets the house under the master bathtub, and over the kitchen ceiling.

I saw the kitchen first and immediately suspected that roof.  Looking at how it meets the house I noticed the absence of proper flashing on both ends.

While the two leak issues appear unrelated, they very much are tied together by this roof!

These three images are revealing!

There is no staining yet, so very little in these three images is visible to the naked eye.  The left image is under one edge of the box window roof.  The center is just to the right, and the canister light is visible on the upper right.  The lavender and purple colors indicate cold and moisture.  The dark purple is very cold, in the lower 40'sF.  You can follow where the moisture has gone in each image.  They are both right under the master bathtub.  The image on the right shows the corner under that master bedroom window, again very cold, about 37F.  You can actually see the pattern of moisture on the carpet, with the small puddle that the homeowners discovered.  The water must be pooling in a small pocket in the floor.

This leaking had never happened before.  Ice damming forced the water into the house.  In the digital photo you can actually see a small drip coming from behind the siding.  It would have been very difficult to diagnose this without a thermal camera.  If at all...  And even though the two rooms are on different sides of the house and on different levels, the problems in each are from the same roof installation.

My recommendation:   When you have an emergency, and need information right away, call a home inspector with experience and some big-boy technology.  Personally I think you should insist on Jay Markanich, but that is just me...

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 5 commentsJay Markanich • February 14 2010 03:34PM



We have such a mild winter going here that it is not a problem. It is rare to have that problem here, but it does happen.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Steve - in the last three years we had 3" of snow.  Then this year, kaboom!  The last time we had a problem like this was in 1995-96.  You can date houses by damage in the closets on exterior walls!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 10 years ago

Greatt pictures and very informative post. A good home inspector is always a must.

Posted by Mandy Buchholz (Benchmark Realty, LLC) over 10 years ago

Well, leaky dams. Jay and his themal imager would make a good neighbor. Sort of like living next door to an ER doc.

Posted by Kate Kate over 10 years ago

You may want to consider a side line of roof rakes Jay..."Would you like a rake with that inspection" ? Roof coils...all kinds of good stuff we have had for years....prevention is hard to forecast with these forecasts !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 10 years ago

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