A common area to find water damaged flooring, underlayment and subfloor is next to a sliding glass door. This is an easy area for water to enter, especially with frequent opening and closing of the door for pets during wet weather. Vinyl floor coverings can peel up and caulking is often missing at the junction with the door allowing water to penetrate to the underlayment and subfloor. This water penetration can occur over a long period of time and lead to rot in the subfloor that is hidden from plain view.
These pictures are from an inspection where the current owner had removed the floor covering and underlayment in preparation for new flooring. The close up pictures show the hidden rot area of the subfloor next to the sliding door. The last picture shows a view of the same area from the crawlspace. The damaged area of subfloor needs to be replaced prior to any new flooring being installed in this room.
Brick and mortar chimneys are a common site on rooftops of a certain age in Washington State. A common point of deferred maintenance and long term damage is at the chimney cap. This is the mortar cap at the top of the chimney that protects the top of the chimney and bricks below.
Water tends to pool and collect on the top of the chimney cap. This can lead to moss growth and erosion of the mortar which over the long term leads to cracks and cap failure. Eventually the cap will split and be in danger of falling off the chimney on to the roof or to the ground below.
If a chimney cap is at the point of damage like in these pictures, it needs to be repaired or replaced. Preventative maintenance is the regular cleaning of moss and the installation of a rain cap over the flue that extends over the edges of the chimney.
Do you have areas of failing paint on exterior wooden structures? Does your support post feel mushy and your finger sink under the surface when pressed? You may have a problem if you are experiencing these issues.
This is a pretty common problem on exterior wooden structures and highlights the need for annual maintenance. All outside wood structures need to be looked at for failing caulking and paint every year. Caulking should be removed and renewed if found cracked and failing. Areas of failing paint should be repaired and repainted to avoid problems like these.
With the long term neglect of this structure the only real option is to replace the rotted wood and start over again. Putting paint over the top of the rotting wood will hide the damage for a bit but it doesn't change the fact that the underlying wood is structurally unsound.
Flat roofs are not ideal - they have a lot of issues with standing water from easily clogged gutters. Ponding water that remains on the roof will eventually find a way in to the substructure. This can easily lead to extensive water damage. Flat roofs require regular maintenance and need to be kept clear of debris as much as possible.
Something is going on with this ceiling. The homeowner noticed a growing stain on the ceiling that seemed to get worse every time it rained. This corner of the ceiling is under a low area of the roof and located directly under a roof valley (junction of two sloping areas of a roof). This stain is a good indication that the roof is leaking.
There was a previous leak in this same area, you can see the square area where a previous repair has been completed. Obviously the leak wasn't repaired adequately or a new leak has formed in the same area.
Common areas of roof leaks are roof valleys, junctions where a vertical surface abuts the roof or penetrations from pipes through the roof. The homeowners had a roofing company inspect the roof and they found an improperly installed valley flashing. The roofers repaired the flashing and made the roof water tight again.
Once the leak has been repaired, it's time to open up the ceiling and assess the damage. The drywall needs to be cut from this section of the ceiling and any wet insulation needs to be removed. Inspect the attic area and try to find all the remaining water on the joists and wooden components. The repair area needs to be left open to dry before completing any repairs.
Brick and mortar chimneys exposed to water over time will deteriorate. Though bricks are more or less indestructible the mortar holding them together is prone to damage and eventual failure. Once the mortar between the bricks cracks and begins to fall out the bricks and structural integrity of the chimney are sure to follow.
These pictures show some typical long term water damage to the mortar between bricks on a above roof chimney. Someone noticed this problem before and attempted to fix the failing mortar with silicone caulking. This is not the correct repair technique - caulking is not going to do anything to stabilize the brick.
This chimney needs repair - the bricks need to be "re-pointed". Re-pointing is the process of removing the old mortar joints and replacing with fresh mortar. This is within the realm of ability of most homeowners but it is a tedious job and depending on location could pose some safety concerns. If this project doesn't appeal to you or you are not comfortable being on your roof, look for a masonry repair specialist to do the job.
The following is a link to a nice overview of repointing-brick on the This Old House website.
Plumbing problems aren't always evident from inside the house. Inspecting your crawl space for problems is a good way to find hidden leaks and damage. Follow along in the video with a crawl space inspection that finds some hidden problems.
Caulking and paint need yearly maintenance to ensure that it is still protecting your house. A common spot to find hidden damage is at exposed wood trim, especially at areas that have a latex caulk sealing a gap. Caulking with a coat of paint is pretty good protection for wood, but once it fails water has an easy path to wood and can cause hidden damage.
Just a little bit of probing at a bubbling area reveals hidden damage. I used fairly light pressure here and the knife slid right in to the wood. You can see the hidden rot underneath. This has been going on for a while. It's likely that the previous homeowner painted over a failing area of paint without fixing the underlying damage.
Your roof has a tremendous surface area that is excellent at collecting water during a rain storm. Hopefully all that water is going to a gutter and eventually to a downspout. Where does the water go once it leaves the downspout? Ideally, the downspout is connected to a perimeter or stormwater drain so that water is taken away from your foundation. Frequently, water is pooling at the downspout and can make its way to your foundation and lead to a very wet crawlspace or structural damage.
Take a look at the downspouts at your house. Are they connected to a drain system or are they able to spew water on the ground next to your house? If the downspout ends at the ground like the above pictures, you have a potential problem. All that water can erode the dirt around the foundation and lead to moisture penetration at the foundation and in to the crawlspace. An easy fix is either a splash block or a downspout extension (pictures below). They need to go at the end of the downspout and placed so that they direct water away from the house.
Do you have wall siding that is in contact with concrete? This is a common site of water penetration and long term can lead to hidden damage in the wall framing. There needs to be a gap between wall siding and any contact with concrete or earth to allow water to drain. If this isn't possible, flashing needs to be installed to help with water shedding.
These pictures show a wall where the siding that was in contact with the concrete patio has been removed for further investigation. The siding showed signs of rot and the wall framing behind looks to have been in contact with water for awhile. The sill plate and rim joist (important framing pieces) are rotted out from the long term presence of water. This homeowner will need to consider some extensive repairs. The sill plate and rim joist need to be cut out and replaced with sound wood.
Brian Jovag, owner of Jovag Home Inspection.