By David Wulff
Homes Are Not Water Proof
Homes are not designed to be water proof and in very heavy rains a house can leak that has never leaked before. This should not be a panic event or cause for serious concern. Experienced contractors know all structures with time and exposure to the elements can have leaks.
Knowing where to look and how to fix them is a well practiced process. A little bit of preventive maintenance and knowing who to call when you do find an issue can relieve your family of some great stress factors.
Most Common Culprits
When investigating water leaks, they often come from some very common places:
1 – Cracks in the masonry (brick, stone, stucco) – Although the cracks don’t look big, a prolonged exposure to rain can allow enough water to work its way into a home. Inserting a premium silicone into the crack and then mortaring over the crack will usually be sufficient to seal up these areas.
2 – Gaps at vent stacks – Over time your vent stacks in your roof will expand and contract with temperature changes, get bumped while someone is working on your roof or in your attic or get blow by a larger storm. This slight movement as well as general exposure to the elements can allow for water to work its way down a vent pipe into your attic. Roofing caulk can be applied to vent stacks to help prevent future leaks.
3 – Roof problems – If a shingle becomes damaged or a nail is placed in the wrong place, water can seep through a roof. Most often we find these in valleys as that is where the water is concentrated during a rain event. These take a little bit of hunting; However when the problem is found, new shingles, epoxy or caulking will generally fix these issues.
4 – Gaps at windows & doors – Your windows and doors should have a solid bead of caulk surrounding them where they come into contact with the masonry or siding façade. These areas should be inspected at least once a year and caulked as needed to cover up any voids or gaps.
5 – Flashing failures – When you have flashing in contact with your roof (most likely where roofing ties into brick/stone/stucco, you can have leaks. Flashing with time can develop voids as the home moves and exposure to elements. Often this can be corrected with a premium caulk or epoxy, however sometimes a complete new flashing assembly is required.
6 – Doors & Windows – Blowing water can often work its way through doors and windows either through the openings or by forcing through the seals at the glass. Enhancing of your weather stripping and adding sealant to your window glazing can often minimize or eliminate these penetration points.
7 – Design issues – In some rare occurrences the home is designed in a manner that leaks are going to be an ongoing problem, usually only during very heavy rains. In case such as these gutter enhancements, diverters or miner roof modifications can help manage large rain events.
When you suspect a leak, don’t wait for damage to be evident, have an experienced trained professional come take a look, often with a little bit of preventive maintenance you can eliminate major inconveniences at a later date.
DAVID H. WULFF, ARCHITECT welcomes the design challenges presented by new projects, specializes in commercial and residential designs and is dedicated to developing innovative design solutions. David H. Wulff, AIA, LEED-AP, 167 Trails End, Lake Lure, NC 28746 828-625-5537.