WATER INTRUSION - THE HIDDEN ENEMY
I was recently asked by a client, "What part of a house requires the
most repair work." My quick answer was the roof. Every house has one and a roof with the average
quality shingle has to be changed every 15 to 20 years. However, after some thought, I have come to
the conclusion that it is not the roof that is the most serious repair. The most costly and
destructive repairs are caused by water and moisture penetration into the home in several different
areas. In fact, water and moisture penetration into the home is not only destructive to the house,
but can also cause some serious health problems. Unchecked water or moisture in the home sooner or
later will cause wood rot and mold. For the purpose of this article, the Author will point out some
of the common areas of water penetration into the home, and hopefully this article will give the
reader an clear understanding about the danger of water penetration, and some of the conditions
caused by water and moisture in the home.
COMMON AREAS OF WATER PENETRATION
EXTERIOR SIDING AND TRIM
WINDOWS AND DOORS
WALLS, FLOORS AND CEILING
CHIMNEY AND VENT FLASHINGS
SOME COMMON CAUSES OF WATER AND MOISTURE PROBLEMS
SLOPE OF THE
IN GROUND POOL
RAIN GUTTERS AND
FUNCTIONAL SUMP PUMP
COMMON LEAK AREAS THAT CAN CAUSE MOLD
G. WARREN HOME INSPECTION INCLUDES:
PRICES STARTING AT $199
MONEY BACK GUARANTEE!
$75.00 C.O. TEST ON FURNACE
ON SITE WRITTEN REPORT
The roof will be changed several times in the normal life span of a
house. Its quite predictable that when the roof needs changing or repair, at some point in time the
home owner will experience a roof leak. Hopefully the leak is big enough to see and is discovered
right away. A roof leak most times is seen and discovered by obvious water drip or, stains on the
ceiling or walls. When a roof leak is discovered, the first thing to do is use a pail, bucket or
plastic to catch and control the water, which will minimize the water damage. And remember, dont
panic, everything is fixable. When a roof leak is discovered one should: catch the water to minimize
the water damage and if possible, find out exactly where the water is coming through the roof. Also
keep in mind that most roof leaks are not repaired for a couple of days and many times a couple of
weeks. The reason being, roofing contractors will not work in the rain or on a wet roof and, many
times they are not readily available to make the repair or replace the roof.
ROOF INSPECTION TIPS
(A) Make a visible examination of the roof
after every big storm to see if there are any missing shingles or any other type of damage. For
safety reasons we suggest this inspection be conducted from the ground with a pair of binoculars.
(B) Do not go up on the roof unless you are an experienced repair person that knows how to mount a
roof safely with the proper roof safety equipment.
(C) Never go up on the without another person
on the ground to act as a safety observer.
(D) Never go up on a roof without examining the
roof decking from the attic area first to see if there is any serious damage to the wooden decking.(
The decking is the plywood that the shingles are nailed too) many a repair person has fallen through
a roof because of rotted wood decking.
(E) Attic inspection - When looking for roof leaks in the
attic, always have another person standing by as a safety backup particularly if the attic is not
floored. Its very easy to slip off a floor joist in an un-floored attic and go through the ceiling
to the room below. When it comes to un-floored attic inspections we recommend putting in some partial
flooring or hire a professional to conduct the inspection.
WATER INTRUSION INTO BASEMENTS
There is an old saying, sooner or later, water will penetrate the basement
because its below ground .The question is, how severe will be the penetration and how expensive
will it be to repair the point of entry and secure the basement against further water intrusion.
There are only two ways that water can penetrate
the basement, in through the foundation walls or
up through the basement floor. For the purpose of this article, the author will examine these two
areas of entry and give some helpful tips on how to avoid the water intrusion. GROUND SLOPE - When
the soil around the house gets water soaked, the heavy water laden soil pushes the water through the
foundation walls. The water gets pushed through cracks, joints and eventually if the water quantity
is high and long enough, the water will push through the block itself. Some telltale signs of water
intrusion are: Stains on the concrete wall or stains on the paneling if the basement is finished. A
white substance on the concrete wall called efflorescence, which is a sure sign of moisture migrating
through the concrete wall. One of the most common areas of water intrusion is in the corners of the
basement. The corner water intrusion problem is usually caused by the rain down spout discharging the
rain water is this area.
for areas of paint flaking, wet spots, stains on paneling, or as previous mentioned efflorescence or
mold .Also if a musty odor is noted, one should investigate the complete basement for a moisture
problem. If any of the mentioned items is found, there is a water or moisture problem in the basement
and corrective action should be taken as soon as possible. Some of the common causes of water
intrusion through the basement walls are: (a) Rain gutter down spouts discharging water alone
side the foundation. This water should be directed at least four feet away from the foundation. (B)
The slope of the ground should direct water away from the house not towards the house. ( c) Sump pump
discharge that is discharging water right alongside the foundation. (d) Concrete patios, sidewalks
and driveways that are right alongside the house with a negative pitch bringing water towards the
house. (e) In ground swimming pool leaks that brings water to the
Water intrusion up through the floor is usually visible and comes in
through cracks or, through the area where the foundation wall meets the floor. This problem is
usually caused by improper drainage, a high ground water level, or a combination of both issues which
creates a constant water problem. To correct this problem, first make sure that the ground water is
draining away from the house and not towards the house. And, that the rain gutter down spouts are
not discharging the roof rain water right alongside the foundation. If the drainage is proper, and
the problem still persist, then you need to address the water level below the floor by installing a
functional sump pump system. A good sump pump system will keep the water level below the floor low
enough where it cant enter the basement. We recommend that a professional water proffer install a
sump pump system for the simple reason that a sump pump by itself may not do the job. Many times a
complete drain system has to be installed with the pump for the pump to function properly. It
depends on the soil and drainage conditions that are present under the basement floor whether or not
a complete pump and drainage system is required.
WATER PENETRATION FROM SIDING AND WINDOWS
Damage to the siding that leaves holes opening or loose sections,
that allows water to penetrate behind the siding can cause some serious problems. No matter what type
of siding, wood, vinyl, stucco, etc., the results will be the same with water penetration behind the
siding, wood rot and possibly Mold. All siding should be well sealed. The slightest opening in the
right spot can cause some serious damage with wood rot and Mold.
Special maintenance attention should be paid to wood siding to avoid
deterioration problems. With wood siding, the lack of periodic maintenance for paint and sealer is
the leading cause for wood rot and damage.
Wood trim is an other area that requires periodic
paint and sealer maintenance. To avoid serious deterioration problems, paint and seal every five
The most common problem with
brick siding will be cracks in the brick. Cracks most often develop from settlement, rusted window
lintels that expand and crack the brick, and deteriorated mortar. Cracks have to be repaired, but one
should consult an expert in the field to determine the cause before patching cracks. Deteriorated
mortar is another common problem with brick walls. When mortar becomes deteriorated and allows water
to penetrate in and behind the brick serious damage can result because the structure is weaken. Water
damage to brick is easy to spot, usually the brick will crack and flake and some times the face of
the brick will snap off the brick as if it was cut off clean with a knife. This condition is called
spalling which is caused by water infiltration into the brick. In cold weather areas, the water will
freeze and damage the brick. To minimize water penetration into and behind the brick, concrete
pointing maintenance should be performed when the mortar becomes deteriorated.
CONCRETE BLOCK WALLS - POURED CONCRETE WALLS AND STUCCO WALLS
the main problem with these type walls is settlement cracks or cracks from a structural problem.
Whatever the cause of the crack, water penetration into the cracks will accelerate damage to the
wall. Again, before filling the cracks, consult an expert in the field to determine the cause of the
EIFS- ( EXTERIOR INSULATION AND FINISHED SYSTEMS )
If your house has this type of siding, this inspector recommends that you have it
inspected and tested for water penetration behind the siding by an EIFS siding professional. This
type of siding has been known to cause serious damage and mold problems when it is penetrated with
water. The early EIFS siding did not allow for water drainage behind the siding Any water or moisture
that did intrude was trapped creating an ideal environment for Mold to flourish.
Windows that are left open during a storm, can cause some
water damage , mainly to the inside of the house that is obvious and easy to repair. The real damage
caused by window leaks is a poor sealer job around the window or no sealer at all around the window
and frame. This type of water intrusion can cause wood rot in the walls and possibly Mold problems.
All windows should be periodically inspected and resealed when
CHIMNEY AND CHIMNEY
The chimney is one item that gets very little maintenance because of its location which is
always above the roof. Not only does the chimney receive little maintenance, it is also exposed to
the harsh elements. The fact that most chimneys function for the life of the house, is testimony on
how good a piece of equipment a chimney really is. However, when a chimney needs maintenance and is
neglected, many times it deteriorates without notice due to the high location. This author was guilty
of neglected chimney maintenance on the first house I purchased. It was a very old colonial, with a
very old chimney. One night the family was awakened by a loud noise that sounded like a tree falling.
In the middle of the night we could see nothing wrong, but the next morning we found a large section
of the top of the chimney in the back yard. Water intrusion into a chimney in combination with the
elements can destroy a chimney.
chimney crown is a concrete crown/mortar cap, on the very top of the chimney that directs water to
the edge of the chimney The crown acts as a roof for the chimney that protects the chimney from water
penetration into and behind the bricks. Water intrusion through a cracked or damaged crown/cap can
cause efflorescence ( white salt deposits on the brick surface), brick spalling which is the flaking
of the brick, and
the deterioration of the mortar between the bricks. If one observes any of
these obvious signs of water intrusion, we recommend that evaluation and repair be made by a licensed
a chimney contractor.
flashing is a special metal joint seal between the chimney and the roof. This joint seal protects
against any water penetration from the elements. A good flashing material is either cooper or
aluminum, a cheaper less reliable flashing is made with steel that will rust and fail with time. The
cheap steel rusted flashing is the cause of some serious and expensive wood rot and roof repairs. A
word of caution, If you
ever have to get a complete roof shingle change, insist on new cooper or
aluminum flashings. Problems with chimney flashings develop for the following reasons:
(b) The flashing was improperly installed.
(c) The flashing was damaged when
the roof shingles were changed.
(d) A missing chimney cricket - A chimney that is very wide and
is located on the side of the house where a valley is created between the roof and the chimney needs
a chimney cricket. A chimney cricket on the back of the chimney will divert water around the chimney
to avoid flashing and roof damage by eliminating ice and debris buildup in the valley at the back of
VENT PIPE FLASHING
Vent pipes that
extend through the roof also need a flashing seal to avoid water penetration into the home. A vent
pipe flashing is much easier to install than a chimney flashing. With a vent pipe seal a few shingles
have to be lifted or removed, the new seal pushed down over the pipe and the shingles put back in
place. Even though it is not a big job, we recommend that a professional in this field, install the
SOME COMMON CAUSES OF WATER AND
SLOPE OF THE TERRAIN
Its very important that the grounds
immediately adjacent to the house are graded so the ground slopes away from the house and not slope
towards the house. If the ground is flat or slopes towards the house, eventually the thousands of
gallons of rain water will find its way into the basement or crawl space and damage the foundation.
The proper slope grading is one inch for every foot of grading. In other words, if the slope is ten
feet out from the house, there should be a ten inch drop from the house to the end of the slope.
IN GROUND POOL LEAK
there is one item that can destroy a foundation, its a built in pool that has a severe leak. I saw
one leaking pool that was twenty feet away from the house, completely destroy the rear wall of the
foundation. Water takes the path of least resistance, and if that path is to the foundation, and the
leak is not corrected, serious damage is guaranteed. A pool will always lose some water through
evaporation. The rule of thumb is, if the pool loses over two inches of water in a week, start
looking for a leak.
Plumbing leaks will happen sooner or later and should be repaired as soon as
possible to avoid water damage and Mold problems. The basement and crawl space should be inspected on
a regular basis for leaks or heavy moisture. The area directly under the bathroom should be examined
very closely both in a basement or crawl space. One last word about plumbing leaks and moisture build
up, "A leak or moisture problem ignored is an invitation for mold."
RAIN GUTTERS AND DOWN SPOUTS
number one culprit for causing water penetration into the basement of the house is rain gutter down spouts discharging rain water right along side the
foundation. It is estimated that, one inch of
rain, will discharge from six to nine hundred gallons of water from an average size roof. All down
spouts should discharge at least five feet or more away from the house. When water has found its way
into the foundation or crawl space, It is a good idea to check the down spout discharge area before
calling the contractor to water proof the basement. Another area of concern, is when the gutters are
debris filled, and the rain water overflows the gutter. Its not uncommon for the overflow to get
behind the fascia board and penetrate into the house and, if not corrected, over time , wood rot will
be the result.
Ground water penetrates into the basement only two ways, either through the
foundation wall or up through the floor. A sump pump installed in a pit below the basement floor, is
designed to keep the subsurface water at a low enough level that it cant penetrate the basement. A
sump pump will keep the water level low by pumping the water to the exterior of the house before the
water level gets too high. If you live in an area that has a high ground water level, a good
functional sump pump is a must. Its also a good idea to have a sump pump high water alarm that
sounds if the pump malfunctions. In a area where a sump pump is a must, one may also consider a
battery back up in case of an electrical outage.
The following is a true sump pump story. A
friend of mine bought a house with a beautiful finished basement. Everything was fine for about two
years, then one morning they woke up to find the basement flooded with six inches of water. The water
completely destroyed the carpeting and many personal items.. The damage was in the five thousand
dollar range, the cause of the problem was a nonfunctional sump pump. It seems that the teen age son
and his band was practicing in the basement and the son unplugged the sump pump to plug in his
electric guitar and never plugged the sump pump plug back in the outlet. Needless to say, the
band was not allowed to practice in the basement any more. The moral of the story, make sure the sump
pump electrical plug is attached to the outlet so it cannot be unplugged too easily.
COMMON LEAK AREAS THAT CAN CAUSE MOLD
(1) BATHROOM VENT - The vent should vent to the exterior of the house, not into the attic.
The moisture sent into the attic is the diner table for Mold.
(2) BATHROOM TUB, SHOWER, TOILET,
SINK - If any of these fixtures have a small leak that is not readily visible, and is not corrected,
sooner or later, youll have a Mold problem.
(3) CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONER CONDENSATE LINE LEAKS -
One of the most dangerous leaks that cause Mold is a small leak in the a/c condensate line when the
air handler is located in the attic. Particularly if no one ever go into the attic because the
entrance is only a small lift up hatch.
Counties Served in New Jersey
Monmouth County, and