What I'm Seeing Now

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"It's Not Either Bathroom, Sir"

It's an older house.  The buyers wanted a lot of new.  So they had landscaping done, a new roof, new siding, and new windows installed.  That's just on the outside.  Inside "she" got a new kitchen, and "he" got a new basement room, including a bar area with a new, great, hand-made, old-fashioned, wooden bar top.

Then the leaking started.

The builder, whom I know, is a diligent guy and has been around a long time.  He has been trying to figure it out.  There has been dripping in the house, but not a lot, and only in certain places.  The most concerning place is, wait for it, right onto his new, great, hand-made, old-fashioned, wooden bar top.

An employee found me on line, and was intrigued by thermal imaging.  She called and asked for thermal imaging information.  She forwarded the info on to her boss.  He called and made arrangements to meet me at the house.

We met.  He had been all over the house, and could not figure out where the water was coming in.  The roof is totally dry.  Ceilings had been removed from under the two bathrooms (lots of ceiling!) and no leaking was discovered.  The dripping onto the bar happens after rain storms, not during, so it could not be the rain.

I filled the bath tubs to test the overflow valves, which he had not done.  No leaking.  We were three days after a rain, and a week before Sandy, so he was desperate.

Breaking out my thermal camera, Mighty Mo, I had a look around.  He went outside to make some calls.  Fifteen minutes later I had an answer.  Keep in mind, he had been looking for this leak, unsuccessfully, for over a week.

Making a long story short, I said, "It's not either bathroom, sir."  Here are three of MANY thermal images that told the story.

Amazingly, with the camera I was able to follow a trail of moisture.  It began here, in the dining room and traveled from there.

When taking the images, I tried to line them up, which is hard to do, but you get the idea.

The blue and purple colors indicate wet spots!

You can see the china cabinet in the images.  The straight, purple line at the bottom of each image is moisture stopped at the edge of a tray ceiling in the room.

IT IS DIRECTLY UNDER WHERE THE GARAGE ROOF MEETS THE SIDE OF THE HOUSE.

From outside nothing is out of place - the roof and siding look great.  What we can't see is the step flashing - if it's missing, if there is a gap, crack or hole.  But certainly there is some anomaly, as this is where the water is getting in. 

From this point the Trail of Tears continues into the hallway, down the basement stairs, picks up a metal HVAC duct and rides it to manifest in the lowest point below.

And that point is?  DIRECTLY OVER HIS NEW, GREAT, HAND-MADE, OLD-FASHIONED, WOODEN BAR TOP!

It was also making its way into the family room ceiling, laundry room walls and hallway near the garage.  But nobody knew that until Mighty Mo made the scene.

My recommendation:  certainly the mental paradigm has not shifted!  Had they called me at the first indication of moisture, it would have avoided removing so much ceiling material!  That was a lot of work, without benefit.  Now they have a lot of work to bring it all back to new again!  Thermal imaging is non-invasive!  This problem was solved before Hurricane Sandy made the scene!  Please, call a thermographer first!  And remember, thermographers are all really cute.  I know Mighty Mo is!

 

 

 

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 43 commentsJay Markanich • October 28 2012 03:57AM

Comments

Great detective work! Amazing how water finds the path of least resistance and travels.

Posted by Barbara Tattersall, GRI (Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan (Keene,NH)) almost 7 years ago

Thermographers get no respect!  Yep, that should be your bumper sticker. (I had another bumper sticer but it was not G rated!) Well done!

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) almost 7 years ago

Gravity works every time Barbara!

Gary - thanks!  I imagine a bunch of bumper stickers can come from this one!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Fabulous.

Folks will spend $Hundreds, $Thousands for things that they understand, but not a few $Dollars for STATE OF THE ART.

I love STATE OF THE ART!!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, WATER IS INSIDIOUS!!!

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 7 years ago
I had a buyer use thermal imaging and found a chimney leak on the top floor of her house. Otherwise would have been tough to find the problem. Great post!
Posted by Aaron Smith, Northern Kentucky Agent & Investor (Keller Williams Advisors ) almost 7 years ago

'Tis Miss Lenn, 'tis.  I have said for years that soon home inspections would ALL come with thermal imaging as a part of the inspection.  I have been wrong for years.

Aaron - it is great technology.  My IR camera is the sharpest arrow in my quiver of home inspector tricks.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Well this Mighty Mo is for sure!!  I need to find someone in RI using this...any suggestions..i have not found any of the home inspectors I am using doin it...great technology & what time saved! thanks Jay

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) almost 7 years ago
How much do those cost?
Posted by Curt Hess, Luxury Home Consultant, Team Leader & CEO (ExecuHome Realty) almost 7 years ago

I know Jim Quarello uses it Ginny.  I don't know what that means geographically.  I travel as far as 100 miles for inspections.

When I bought it nine years ago it was very expensive Curt.  Now you can get a good one for $8 or $9K or so.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Amazing how far a person will go, and how much desctuction they will do, before they finally decide to call an expert! It is usually cheaper to call someone that knows what they're doing!

Posted by Jeff Pearl, Full Service Full Time Realtor (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA) almost 7 years ago

That's what I mean about the mental paradigm shifting Jeff.  It ain't yet!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Score again for Mighty Moe.  He is all talented and all seeing.  You're right, it is too bad that they didn't call sooner, but at least they called now.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 7 years ago

Agreed Debbie!  I'm glad they called before Sandy!  You ready?  Will your cats even notice?

I show you the original Mighty Mo!

M.M. is the big burger!  This is LONG before the Big Mac or Whopper.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Morning Jay another mystery solved by Mighty Mo.  Congrats on the feature which I may say is well deserved.  have a great day sir

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) almost 7 years ago

Thanks James.  I was worried about this the night before I went because what I had learned on the phone made me wonder if I would be able to figure it out.  Well, I did!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

The age old problem with leaks, often you can not locate the source. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 7 years ago

   We think you have an additional income source as the spokesperson for Mighty Mo's Manufacturer....a must for inspectors everywhere !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 7 years ago

Jay, Mighty Mo has paid for itself a hundred times over and can save homeowners hundreds of dollars. Homeowners just need to call you first instead of as a last resort.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA almost 7 years ago

Jim - the basement manifestation of the leak was 30' below, and at least 20' away from the source of the leak.  What was logical was not the cause.

S&D - they see my stuff, but don't say anything!  I guess, why pay for milk when the cow is giving it for free?

Mike - it has.  I wish that paradigm was shifted that way!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

God Bless our Jay -
You did the Home inspections for my daughter and her family in Arlington.
That made me feel really secure about the home she was buying.

Mom was far away in Atlanta but she was safe in your care.
Thanks again!

Have a happy day -
Lynn

Posted by Lynn B. Friedman, Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers (Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty Call/Text 404-939-2727 Buckhead - Midtown - Westside -- and more ...) almost 7 years ago

We certainly could use a guy like you around my neck of the woods...You would be kept busy thank you

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 7 years ago

Well, you just know I'm going to steal this and re-blog it. Thanks.

Posted by Gregory Bain, For Homes on the Jersey Shore (Mezzina Real Estate & Insurance) almost 7 years ago

That thermal image really helps pin point the leak. Nice job.

Posted by Elite Home Sales Team, A Tenacious and Skilled Real Estate Team (Elite Home Sales Team OC) almost 7 years ago

I had heard of thermal imaging but had no idea that it  could be so useful in this type mof situation. Thanks for the great post.

Posted by Susan Shaw (Premiere Plus Realty Co.Marco Island, FL) almost 7 years ago

Excellent post.  Thanks, Jay, for sharing this information.

We are in a storm watch mode in Maryland.  Every family should be reviewing their emergency safety plans.

Have a very special week.  Enjoy the colors of autumn with your camera in hand.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) almost 7 years ago

What great technology... I can't imagine finding such a distant origin of the problem without it. Well done.

Grtchen

Posted by Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate, Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs (Kelly Right Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

I like tools.  I like Mighty Mo, although I think if I needed one it looks like it would be a rental.  Can they be rented?  Have you thought about renting yours out?  Actually, it would be a great sideline business that might actually pay for Mighty Mo.

Posted by Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI, REALTOR and Broker (Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates) almost 7 years ago
Hi Jay, This is an excellent post that would serve everyone in the real estate industry to know about. I think you should send this post to NAR and ask them run this. The information and the questions raised about local thermal imaging availability could save homeowners so much angst and create a demand for thermal imaging diagnosis instead of destructive testing for leaks.
Posted by William Johnson, Retired Real Estate Professional (Retired) almost 7 years ago

Very cool photos.  Love it when a little bit of technology and know how can make solving problems resolve quickly.

Posted by Jon Karlen, Louisville & Shelbyville Kentucky real estate (Finish Line Realty - Shelbyville & Louisville Ky Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

Thank you Lynn for saying that!  They should be well into their remodeling, if not having completed a lot of it by now!

Richie - I don't think I could afford to live in CA!

Well, Gregory, it's for everyone to learn from!

Thanks Elite Homes.  I consider that camera to be the sharpest arrow in my quiver.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Susan - I have been putting out posts like this for some time.  And other home inspectors on AR too!  We are out there, really!

Roy - well, just next door we are on the same watch!  Looks like a "snow" day tomorrow for lots of schools!

Gretchen - water leaks are very difficult to diagnose.  The leak could be here, and the problem is manifested over there.  Like this one - the leak was 30' from where it dripped onto the bar top.

Gary - it isn't as easy as it looks!  I have spent thousands of dollars in training and countless hours trying to learn how to use it!  I don't know if they can be rented.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Thanks William.  I wouldn't know how to send it to NAR or who there to send it to!

It was quick Jon!  And surely quicker than ripping out ceilings and walls!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago
Jay, good job and great detective work to find the leak. Thermal imaging seems to be the way to go for leak detection, more people need to know about it so thanks for getting out the information!
Posted by Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES, Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living (Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch!) almost 7 years ago

It is one of the best ways Silvia.  In my experience anyway.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

It's so nice to know about thermal imaging!  I think this is a really great tip!

Posted by Marge Draper, REALTOR, Keller Williams Realty, Menlo Park CA (Keller Williams Realty Palo Alto) almost 7 years ago

Have Gravity Will Travel. Sometimes the way water will go seems like a Rube Goldberg machine. It will follow a rafter edge or a joist and end up leaking through to the interior a long way from where it came in.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) almost 7 years ago

Marge - it is a fabulous tool and can be a lot of fun.  I often take thermal images of the family and send it to them for framing!

Robert - in this case it appeared to follow the bottom of a round HVAC duct for about 3' before dripping onto the drywall below (over the bar top).  When the drywall was removed the drip stains were clearly visible!  Didn't know Palladin was popular in Canada!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Jay-- one would have thought that a bathroom, or kitchen would be the cause; but as usual your technology shows that it is really the roof.  What a great way to help these folks out before Sandy arrives.

Try to keep warm and dry this next week.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) almost 7 years ago

I hope they were able to get this patched up before the storm hit Steven.  We are beginning it just now.  High winds later today and all day tomorrow.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Very nice find. I enjoyed the forensic complexity of it. :) I just found an active leak under an upstairs bathroom using my thermal imaging camera yesterday.

The real kicker is when you stick the moisture meter to the ceiling and it reads ninety some percent while beeping continuously and the buyer's like "what's that?" "Well sir, that is the confirmation of the anomaly the thermal imaging camera discovered. Hehe

Posted by Mike Gillingham (Eastern Iowa Inspection Services LLC) almost 7 years ago

It was a process Mike, as you know.  Started outside, looked at the lay of things, and then began high, working low.  I was concerned, frankly, beginning this, because this guy had described to me everything he had done to figure out where the water was coming from and if the drywall is removed water is pretty easy to see.

The problem was, as is the case with most water leaks, the final manifestation wasn't near the real source!

Yes, the moisture meter sang excitedly!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

We swear by our thermal imaging guns, too!  Thanks for sharing with others how they work and how they are helpful.

Posted by Spectrum Inspection Group (Spectrum Inspection Group) almost 7 years ago

Thanks Spectrum.  I have a lot of IR posts on AR!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

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