Reading about my thermal camera on line this homeowner called me about using my camera while investigating a flat roof leak. But, it wasn't what they thought!
They had a couple of leaks actually, and couldn't locate any of them.
Complaining of a moldy odor in the staircase from middle to upper levels, I found the hardware wall of the master bath shower to be just above the moldy photo on the left. That moldy spot was discovered by removing a large piece of artwork on the wall! They did not know it was there.
They thought it might be a plumbing leak causing the odor, but could find no evidence of leaking. But they had not used the shower in a while for fear of causing more problems.
The moldy spot registered 18% moisture prior to the fabled shower test. And the thermal image in the middle shows only a little temperature variance or possible moisture.
However, after running the hot and cold water in the shower for five minutes the thermal image on the right demonstrates changes all around. The blue shows cooler temps and the red warmer.
And the moisture meter registered 100%.
The plumbing is leaking. The end.
But what of the flat roof? It's a little balcony roof off the dining room. It is over the basement office. Every time it rains dripping happens in the office ceiling, in many places.
Unfortunately it had not rained in a few days. The homeowners, however, had opened up the ceiling and put a tub under where the majority of leaking was happening. Water "comes in like a river."
Mighty Mo was ready, but could determine nothing. But up inside that hole the moisture meter registered over 30% moisture in the underside of the roof sheathing of the flat roof above. Wood is considered to be saturated at 28%. So, the wood is wet!
The homeowners had many siding and roofing companies out to resolve this issue. From each visit they had huge estimates for new roofs, new siding, and new siding and roofs!
A quick measurement from the door to the hole in the office ceiling, and another measurement from the door to the the drain hole in the roof and viola! I discovered the source of the leak.
LISTEN CAREFULLY. IF THE ROOF DOES NOT DIRECT WATER AWAY FROM THE HOUSE, THE WATER WILL BE DIRECTED INTO THE HOUSE. WATER GOES WHERE IT IS ENCOURAGED TO GO.
Do you see the drain hole in the upper left of the roof photo above? Do you see the pattern of staining emanating from that hole? That roof drain hole is directly above the hole in the ceiling. IT IS TOTALLY CLOGGED. Since the water cannot get out, it comes in, "like a river." Easy peasy.
So, class, what is the source of the water problem? All together now -
THE CLOGGED DRAIN HOLE, Mr. M!
Very good class.
I teased the homeowners by offering to clean the drain hole for $100 less than the cheapest estimate they had gotten for a new roof or new siding.
And poor little Mo sat on the desk, watching, and not needed. But at least he found a leak!
My recommendation: sometimes the simplest things turn out to be the culprit in what otherwise can be a mystery to some. Maintenance is just that. Maintenance. Maintain, verb, to cause or enable a condition or state of affairs to continue. Maintaining that drain to enable water to continue to drain AWAY from the house will go a long, long way, and cost less, less money. Word.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560