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