What I'm Seeing Now

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The Leak Stain Might Be Here, But The Source Is Way Over There!

Just because a stain is under the bathroom, the leak stain might be here, but the source is way over there! 

Sometimes things happen but logic does not follow.

And when the cause you think precedes the effect, it isn't!

And that's where sleuthing comes in!

There is a reason there is a magnifying glass on my logo.  Sometimes we home inspectors have to put on the detective cap and get out the equipment.

A couple called with a stain that appeared in the kitchen ceiling, under the hall bath.

That is a bathroom they seldom use.  There were visitors for the weekend and a stain appeared in the kitchen ceiling a couple of days after the visitors left.

They have been in the house only a couple of years.  And the stain has never appeared before.  They ran the bathroom many times, but the stain never changed.  Perplexing!

Contacting me, they asked if I could come over for a diagnosis.  Well, in addition to the magnifying glass, I have all sorts of cool detective equipment!

And I tried as well to recreate the leak.

As I used to say to my kids, and now to my wife, if something isn't where you are looking, it has to be where you are not looking.

Outside the house, but not nearby this stain, is a spot that looks great from the ground.

There is flashing.  There is aluminum fascia wrap.  The fascia wrap has a drip edge.  The siding is properly inserted into the J track.  There is caulking where it is supposed to be.

It all looks good!

But it's on the same side as the kitchen ceiling stain, two floors above and along a side wall.

And if something isn't where you are looking, it must be where you are not looking!

Climbing up to have a look, I didn't even need the magnifying glass!

That is exposed sheathing!

And there are large gaps there.

See the 90 degree corner cut into the siding?  It is hardly visible from the ground, but it can be seen in both photos, including the close up.  As they say, whoop, there it is!

THIS HAS TO BE THE SOURCE OF THE LEAK, BECAUSE IT SURELY IS NOT COMING FROM THE BATHROOM!

And this is not a homeowner fix.  This location needs to be properly flashed, and finished such that driving rains will not be able to get inside.

What happened?  Coincidentally while their visitors were there, the weather whipped up a storm that came from a particular direction with enough force to get inside.  The size of the stain is not large, so the leak was not a big one.

Apparently such a storm with such a wind had not happened before while they have been living there.  If it had, not enough water had gotten in to manifest in the kitchen, many feet away.

My recommendation:  if a problem's source is not where you are looking, it has to be where you are not looking.  As improbable as this spot looked from the ground, it is the source of the problem after all!  And the photo says a thousand words.  In this case, the home inspector applied the Best Practice!

 

 

 

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 20 commentsJay Markanich • July 11 2013 04:16AM

Comments

Jay - great post. I learned a long time ago that water will find it's way once it gets in, and the source is rarely exactly at the same point.
Posted by Carol Zingone, Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) over 5 years ago

Good morning, Jay.... it's not uncommon to have a leak originate in another part of the house and water run along a joist.....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 5 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Great job of sleuthing. Amazing the power of water.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 5 years ago

Thanks Carol.  Water is often a difficult diagnosis!

Right on Barbara.  In this case it ran down the wall and then across the joist.  But it was not a big stain.

So, when you coming over to experience my great care?  And root beer floats...

Raymond - water is the killer of houses!  When allowed to be, that is.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

It is always amazing to me the routes of destruction that water takes and makes homeowners crazy trying to find the source !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 5 years ago

It will take the path of least resistance S&D, just like the river that carved out that really grand, big canyon out west.  What's it called again?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Hard to believe the siding installer or the roofer that did that job would actually leave exposed wood at that location! It's pretty obvious! Even if it wasn't the source of the leak you were searching for... it would still be a leak somewhere!

El crummo trabajo!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 5 years ago

While I am reasonably sure it's the source of the leak, you have to remember, that guy was going to get to it on Monday, but over the weekend they transferred him to do the siding in another neighborhood Fred.

Sí, muy crummo.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Looks likes Uncle Bob's handiwork.  I wonder did you find duct tape if so that is his signature calling card. 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 5 years ago

Duct tape up there would have been preferable to nothing James! 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay, this is such a timely post for us!  We have a home under contract where there is a small water stain on the kitchen ceiling, coincidentally under a bathroom. The buying agent was quite certain we had a leak in the bathroom.  As it turns out, two other events probably caused the spot: a siding problem similar to what you described and a water heater problem that had been fixed several years previously.  The water heater was upstairs and about six feet away from the stained area. Water migrates along those floor joists!

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) over 5 years ago

Is the heater on a drip pan now Tom?  Here it would be required to be, but if not there, you might seriously consider one!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay, the new water heater does have a drip pan.  Unfortunately it wasn't a small leak. The water heater burst and when the owner came home from church, there was water everywhere as well as pouring out of the overflow pipe to the outside.  What a mess!

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) over 5 years ago

Hi Jay,

Where was the Quality contol on this job?

The leak could come from anywhere and without the access in the wall. It would be hard to find the excat place.

But a good inspector con and will fin the leak.

Have a great day in Bristow my friend.

Best, Clint Mckie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 5 years ago

That is a huge ouch Tom!

I think it was where I wasn't looking Clint!  And I found it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay -- and not only would it be where you weren't looking, it was probably in the last place you looked. ;-)

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 5 years ago

It seems to work out that way Steven, and I'm not sure I understand why.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Is your name Jay or Sherlock? I had this problem once. I had a leak in the kitchen. Turns out there was a leak on the roof that ran down the inside wall and down to the kitchen.

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) over 5 years ago

Jay:

Very good post and good information. It can be very frustrating tracking down the source.

Posted by Alan Kirkpatrick, Alan in Austin (Austin Texas Homes) over 5 years ago

I've seen the bumper stickers, Tom - Water Happens.  Or something like that.

Alan - it surely is!  Water and smells are the most difficult I think.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

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