What I'm Seeing Now

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It All Flows Downhill, But Especially Water

If you give it a place to go, water will go there.  And water is THE killer of houses, inside and out.

You have all seen the rubber membrane roof product, particularly on flat or low-slope surfaces.  That is an EPDM roof, or Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer roof.  Technically, it is a thermoset with high tear strength that can be cross-linked by both peroxides and sulfur (I learned that in Indianapolis!), but I digress.

If you look out a window at a small, flat front porch roof, you will probably see it.

It comes in different thicknesses, principally a 60 weight and a 90 weight, not getting too technical.

Which weight do you think builders will put on houses?

Hint:  the 60 weight, called FM I-60, is thinner and cheaper.

Correct!  They put on the cheaper product.  No brainer there!  It doesn't last very long if exposed to direct sunlight, maybe 15 years.

Being thinner it also expands and contracts more.  This can cause the glue which adheres it to the substrate to come loose.

This particular house, and this front porch roof, is only 10 years old.  The glue is already coming loose.

And what happens when it comes loose boys and girls?

Water damages the substrate.  It loosens more.  The substrate, being wood, will rot.  As it does it will sag.  More glue will come loose.  And more water will get in.

 

 

 

 

 

When water gets in it sits.

And viiiioooola!  (That's French)  You get more damaaahhge. (That's French too) *

What's an inspector to do?

Observe and report.

My recommendation:  When you see a rubber-membrane roof, check it carefully for evidence of previous pooling of water.  You can see what such a stain looks like here.  If you see staining, almost certainly there is a problem.

* And here you thought I only spoke Spanish!

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 14 commentsJay Markanich • October 15 2010 08:00AM

Comments

Oh Mon Dieu!  (Hey, I speak French too!  Took five years of it...never use it)  

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 8 years ago

Jay,

It seems to me that most of these little decorative flat stoop roofs present more problems than value.

7 or 8 years ago we replaced a small stoop roof.  It was over 100 years old.  Copper sheet put down with skill, and attention to detail.

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) over 8 years ago

That's because nobody speaks French, Kathryn!

Well, here you and I do, so I don't really mean nobody.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Geez Mike, and you only got 100 years out of it?

Done properly copper is a terrific roofing material.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Water is not a home's best friend, that's for sure...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 8 years ago

Well, that's true! And, Michael, builders and people don't exactly go out of their ways to avoid it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Jay - It's unfortunate that builders are sometimes more interested in saving a few bucks than the long-term impact of those savings.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) over 8 years ago

C'mon John.  They have 1,000 products they can save money on.  A few hundred per house just on bath tubs alone in one neighborhood adds up to bonuses for everyone for the year!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Builders come and go,but the good one last forever.

Nice to know you are so fluent in so many languages

Enjoy the day senoir

Posted by Don MacLean, Realtor - Homes For Sale - Franklin MA (Simolari & MacLean REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY) over 8 years ago

¡Gracias hermano señor amigo Don!  Estoy pasándolo muy bien.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Bonjour Jay, merci beaucoup.  Il est tres instructif. 

Google translate is pretty handy.  Thanks for another informative post.

Posted by Dale Ganfield over 8 years ago

Thanks Dale, but that seems easy enough to translate!  Instruction is the big reason I am on AR - to give, when I can, and receive, a lot of!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Jay, great informative blog!  I had no idea that the membrane only lasted that long.

Posted by Damon Gettier, Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE (Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert) over 8 years ago

Well, it's a cheap, modern material! What did you expect Damon!  Actually the cheaper asphalt shingles only last that long as well, so this material would not be out of line with that.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

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