What I'm Seeing Now


And A River Ran Through It - The House, That Is

And a river ran through it - the house, that is.

Inspecting a crawl space, as I am wont to do, the dirt floor was completely covered with thick, black plastic.  That's good!  The underside of the floor was insulated.  That's good!  The ventilation was open all around.  That's good!

But on one end I heard water dripping.  It was raining that day, hard, and all day long.  But dripping water?  I looked at all the plumbing all around and saw no dripping.

So I followed the sound.

It was at the top of the crawl space, which inclined from the front of the house toward the back.

The yard inclined also, gently toward the house. 

About 30' of yard passed from the street to the front of the house.  It was not encouraged or diverted in any way around the house.

On a rainy day that is a lot of water pressure!

Pulling back the black plastic I found three spots, small holes really, where water was entering.  The red arrows point out locations of active water intrusion.  And the leaking water had formed a rivulet, which can be seen at the bottom of the photo.

That rivulet continued toward the left, and the front corner of the house.

Water goes where it is allowed to go.  Which is why it is important to encourage water AROUND a house, and not toward it.

Zooming in on the yellow oval you can clearly see water dripping off the plastic at the ledge.

This was one of two such dripping locations.

That was the dripping I heard!

Following the rivulet down the side wall of the crawl space, I was able to see where it terminated.

At the lower corner of the crawl space, and pulling back the black plastic, the end of the line showed water about 3" deep.

It was exiting at that point through a small hole, and onto the rear yard.

This is important.

Had it not been raining that day there would not have been a dripping sound.

In my career as a home inspector, some 37 years now, I have seen water such as this only two times in a crawl space.

That means had it been a dry way I would not be inclined to have pulled away the black plastic to see if I could find small holes into which water MIGHT have been leaking.

So doing the inspection on a rainy day was fortuitous.

My recommendation:  often I have had clients call me to ask if we should postpone a home inspection due to rain.  My answer has always been a firm NO!  During the rain I can see and determine things I cannot when it is dry.  So keep the home inspection appointment if it's raining!  You might just learn something really, really important!

P.s.  Did the sellers know about this leak?  Well, the foundation paint was fresh, as you can see in the photos.  And the black plastic was very new in certain places.  Virginia is a non-disclosure state, a so-called caveat emptor (buyer beware) state.  Sellers have no reason or incentive to disclose anything.  What is the buyer's best recourse?  A home inspection!



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 9 commentsJay Markanich • January 25 2017 10:57AM


Good morning Jay,

As much as an agent learns there are hidden items that need the expertise of an inspector or others to purchase a home.

When I was a lot younger we lived in an old farm house that the stream fed the cistern; and just think we drank the water and lived!

Make yourself an astonishing day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) almost 2 years ago

Hi Jay Markanich 

Absolutely! For a buyer a home inspection on a rainy day is a good thing.

Posted by Doug Dawes, Your Personal Realtor® (Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA) almost 2 years ago

Good morning Jay. The buyer must have been glad to have a home inspection done on a rainy day! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) almost 2 years ago

Wow, you must have some super ears, that dripping couldn't have been that loud. I don't think even Inspector Clouseau could've found that...  

Great find!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 2 years ago

Raymond - either it was great water or you guys built up a great tolerance to it!  And like Adams said of Jefferson, on Adam's death bed, "Jefferson survives!", not knowing Jefferson had died just moments before.  So, as you say, "Raymond survives!"

Agreed, Doug.  I learn a lot about the house!  My own included...

Wayne - they weren't so hot on having the inspection that day.  After I found this problem they were really glad!

Fred - maybe the foundation wall beside magnified the sound.  My favorite Inspector Clouseau line is when he answers the door in an apartment he is visiting and a delivery man has him sign for a box.  When he opens the box it contains the classic round bomb with a fuse sparking.  The other guy in the apartment asks, "What is it?"  Clouseau says, "It's a bomba.  Were you expecting one?"

Then they both scream, he throws it out the window, and you hear the explosion, car crashes and screaming.  Another day...


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 2 years ago

Jay Markanich Once again you have proved that being a sleuth pays off not only for criminal investigators, but highly intelligent home inspectors!

Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (Realty National) almost 2 years ago

S&N - I appreciate that!  But I'm not sure how intelligent I am as I think I looked at the water and said, "Ug.  Wadda!"  And pointed.

Or something like that.

Actually the inspection was in Spanish, so I might have said, "Ugo.  Wadda-o!"

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 2 years ago

you had to have your 'bat ears' working to catch that sound. 

I once showed an older home that did have a stream running through it.  Built on ledge and a portion of the foundation was rock ledge.  A crack allowed ground water in but the builders had formed a dam and allowed the water to run to a corner of the basement where a pump was working.  Not good in a power outage however

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) almost 2 years ago

I think the sound was magnified by being up against the foundation wall, Ed.  And for sump pumps I always recommend a battery back up on my reports.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 2 years ago

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