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