What I'm Seeing Now

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Cracking Under The Pressure

Cracking under the pressure.  You hear that story all the time.

We all have our cracking point.  No matter the context, and no matter how strong we are, there is always a breaking point.  And we feel badly!

This house demonstrates an architectural, or other design, flaw. 

This photo looks at half of the rear roof.  Look carefully.  Virtually all of the rain water (that's a LOT of water) for that half is directed to one little gutter and one downspout.

See it now?

That gutter is about 5' long! 

And it is the narrower 5" gutter and smaller downspout.

You can see staining on the deck under that small gutter, so it has overflowed regularly under heavy rains.  Necessarily!

But even a larger gutter and downspout would not help the other problem created.

All of that water has to discharge.

This house is 9 years old, so nothing has ever been done about this problem.

And it is obvious someone knew about this problem.

It drains right beside a basement door stairwell!

And has for all these years.

That's a lot of water! 
That's a lot of weight!
That's a lot of pressure!

Seems to me things are leaking!  The penetrations through the wall are leaking.  And you can't see them, but there are two cracks in that wall.

This is the worst one.

The homeowners actually put caulking into the crack to "fix" it.

It is directly under that downspout discharge point.

This is actively leaking, with stains on the floor and muck in the stairwell drain.

The solution?

Since they demanded one small gutter and downspout to handle so much roof water, at least they should have designed the larger ones for the load.

And, from construction, had they buried that downspout discharge to drain to the left of the photo at the top, there is open grass there and it would have been a great feeder for the grass, or a garden or tree there.

That's a lot of forethought however.

The construction supervisor should have caught this.
The roofer/gutter installer should have caught this.
The landscaping company should have caught this.

AND THEY SHOULD HAVE CAUGHT IT YEARS AGO!

Now there's a different problem to deal with.

My recommendation:  don't discount gutters and downspouts from any home inspection.  Water is THE killer of houses, inside and out.  If not properly controlled and directed water will eventually do what it does best!

 

 

 

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 36 commentsJay Markanich • July 16 2012 05:15AM

Comments

Jay - Builders, landscapers, county inspectors and subcontractors all seem to miss the potential damage due to improperly directed water. Yes, water is the bane of both homes and homeowners, and when ignored can significantly damage or destroy a structure in a short time.

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

John - as you know, water is one of the key issues with any house.  This damage started long ago, but the house is only nine years old!

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

Hi Jay,

You have a post I was going to post about today. But that's o.k. I will anyway. Are you sure there is no "French drain" installed?  Maybe you can't see it. But with the cracks like that there are issues.

Good find and good post. Have a good day in Northern Virginia.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) about 8 years ago

No Clint, a stained and muddy splash block is there though!  Packing a French drain there would not be smart anyway - it's beside a stairwell.  French drains have to have a place to send the water.

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

Good morning Jay. I always learn from you and enjoy the process. The pictures do tell the story. Enjoy the day.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) about 8 years ago

Thanks Sheila.  The idea was to tell a story!  With photos and verbiage.

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

Good morning Jay,

These pictures are worth a thousand words! I too learn a lot from your posts. It helps me when looking at homes that I'm going to list. You have told a great story..gutters are so important and they must be installed properly with thought of how to divert the water away from a home..you are right water is the killer of homes..inside and out! Suggested.

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899) about 8 years ago

Jay - I have seen homes sell for so much less because the sellers neglected to address the gutter issue, and then water found its way t he basement, and mold developed. I spoke to the buyers after the closing and they said that the mold was caused by the lack of gutter repair. That particular case was a divorce so no one wanted to spend any money.. but so many times just cleaning gutters can eradicate a  problem.. SO silly and then the small problem becomes a major one...

Posted by Gay E. Rosen, As Real as Real Estate Gets! (Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty) about 8 years ago

You're blaming the costruction and landscape guys for not catching the problem condition. It's the designer, architect or archetctural designer who should be taken to task for this. The pressure is on for cute, interesting and visually appealing builings. It's what sells.

Roof slopes that avoid thar condition are possible. They are just not as pritty.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) about 8 years ago

Good morning Jay. Seems this house was built for looks and not function. People don't realize the power of rain. I once was at a factory who had their gutters draining into a small catch basin and in a hard rain the basin lid came off from the water pressure. Amazing. Draining this entire roof into that little area should have been caught in the building stage.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) about 8 years ago

Dorie - one thing truly leads to another.  Things MUST be thought out in advance.

Gay - gutter cleaning here would not help, but you are right, often that's the only thing that needs doing!

Robert - that architectural design blame was laid on the third line of the post!  But it is the supervisor's job to translate the plans into reality and catch this kind of thing.  They are supposed to make changes on the fly.  Then the roofer, then the landscaper.  Why wait until the problem happens? 

This house is symmetrical, and sloping the roof differently would not fit on the lot with the setbacks needed.  But really, diverting that water further away from the start would have helped a whole lot.

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

Randy - I agree, but it is truly a design flaw.  Interestingly, this is a symmetrical house and the other side was configured with different gutters and downspouts!

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

Good morning Jay.  Once again, another great post.  What is the best way to screen your gutters so they don't get clogged?  We've seen screens, filters, and rounded caps with slits.  What do you suggest?

Posted by Linda Blumenthal, NYS Licenced Real Estate Salesperson, CBR (Hampton Crossing - Licensed Real Estate Salesperson - 631-466-4087) about 8 years ago

I have a small section of gutter on my house that always clogged and just last week had the solid gutter covers put on there Linda. 

There are many to choose from.  I chose K-Guard.  Click there.  They replace the old gutters, and cost the same as putting on the caps alone.  Also, they are a wider 6" gutter, so many problems are solved at once.

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

Thanks for the article and the pictures.  I have heard that water damage is to a house what cancers is to a person.  Cleaning gutters can be so helpful, yet many folks skimp on this activity.

Posted by Laura Murray, Search Montgomery Co., MD for homes www.MDRealEstateOnline.com (Weichert) about 8 years ago

Laura - depending on the house and proximity of trees, cleaning gutters can need to be done 5 or 6 times a year!

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

Great explanation of the need for getting the water away from the building Jay. You are right, this should have been caught long ago.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) about 8 years ago

Tom - from the very first drawing of the plans!  But there was so much opportunity since then to correct this!

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

Jay, Water will have its way so you better prepare for it to have its best solution for exit that will not damage or create other problems. Good eye.

Posted by Debbie Reynolds, Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent (Platinum Properties) about 8 years ago

Excellent post & explaination Jay. Your visuals seem like this should have been a easily caught flaw.

Posted by Greg Miller, Florida Home Loans - Conventional,FHA,USDA,VA (Ruoff Home Mortgage ) about 8 years ago

Good evening, Jay. It is amazing what I see builders do to take the cheapo way out. Ran into something similar today. Sadly, in my area, 4" gutters meet "Codes"...

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

It's amazing that no one had the foresight to catch this.  Eagle eyes at it again.  Great job!

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) about 8 years ago

That's some terrible water management.  Tough to tell from the first photo, but that water doesn't all get directed in to the wall before getting to the lower gutter, does it?

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

Debbie - I saw the rear roof problem before I saw the crack in the wall!

Greg - there was all kinds of opportunity to catch this prior to my visit!

Michael - that is a little gutter!  Good luck with it!

Thanks Jan.  But I am always seeing roof problems where too much water is directed to one small area.  It's a design problem, and people need to think ahead.

Reuben - there is a downspout on that upper corner, plus all that roof water there too.  It's bad management all around.

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

Thanks for an informative post, Jay. Another example of severe consequences to what was an avoidable situation. Much to my surprise when I moved to the Jacksonville area a couple of years ago, gutters are neither required by code nor regularly installed in new construction here. While we don't have basements to worry about, the rainfall we have here can be intense and I can't tell you how many mulched beds I've seen washed away after a heavy rain.

Posted by Julie Bentley, Saint Johns, FL REALTOR (Watson Realty Corp, Jacksonville, FL ) about 8 years ago

Hello Jay,

Your one sentence says it all "that's a lot of forethought however"....

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) about 8 years ago

There are so many solutions that are shared here and I am amazed that this continues. My drains go to a rain barrel and then slowly water the yard.

Posted by Charles Stallions Real Estate Services, Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl. (Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc) about 8 years ago
Hi Jay, My experience over the years in real estate is that water is key destroyer of property. I can't think of one single issue that does more damage to interiors and exteriors than failed water magaegment. And it is also my opinion that most builders take too many shortcuts in this regard and use products that are or can be easily be ruined with leaks and other improper installations.
Posted by William Johnson, Retired Real Estate Professional (Retired) about 8 years ago

Jay - This is an excellent post and I'm glad ActiveRain featured it.  Water can cause substantial damage to property.  It is always good to divert it away, especially from foundations, when you can!

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) about 8 years ago

Morning Mr. Jay congratulations on the feature they just don't get boring do they?  The home looks like a great property but as you noted the problem should have been caught a long time ago

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) about 8 years ago

Julie - I have heard there are areas without gutters, which is okay I guess if you are on a slab and it splatters away from the house.  But washing away flower beds isn't fun!

Lisa - my little bit of sarcasm thrown in.  I can be a bit dry.

Joyce - and the yard appreciates it!  As would trees nearby!

William - short cuts can happen and do.  I think this is a case of no think, my opinion.

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

Thanks Myrl.  Water has to be controlled by us because IT is controlled by physics!  It can't help itself!

James - no, they don't get old.  This is a beautiful house.  The engineer is going out today to look at that wall and a roofer and electrician tomorrow.

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

You know what they say, crack kills. And so does water.

 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 8 years ago

They had an engineer by yesterday, Jim, and his conclusions were the same as mine.  He, however, has juice!

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

Jay, Where was the inspector when the home was built? If it had been you this would not have happened.

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) about 8 years ago

There were many inspectors Tom.  Thanks, but you know the builder will tell people they don't need an inspection on new construction!

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

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