In the Market for a New Home? Make Sure You Have a Home Inspector Check for Leaks
How powerful of a force is water?
Consider the Colorado River, which has been carving out the majestic immensity of the Grand Canyon for eons. Also out west, there’s the Hoover Powerplant, where water turns 17 turbines to the tune of 2,998,000 horsepower, serving the energy needs of 1.3 million Americans. Moving east, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, the world’s longest cave system at 405 miles, exists today because of the slow, methodical effect of water working relentlessly on limestone.
Water can be both life-giving and unforgiving, a force that can break down rocks yet delight us with gentle rain. Friend or foe. Destroyer or savior. Such is the dual nature of H2O.
So what does this have to do with home inspections? A great deal, in fact. As we’ve discussed in past blogs, moisture is enemy number-one in a home. It’s why certified inspectors, like those at A-Pro Home Inspection, pay a lot of attention to areas in a building that are prone to leaks, both large and small. Even a minor but steady drip, if left unchecked, can lead to costly damage and significant repairs or replacement costs—and it all happens at a much quicker pace than it took to hollow out the Grand Canyon.
Pinpointing leaks in a structure is one of many critical reasons to hire an experienced home inspector before purchasing a home. Here are some common leakage problems the home inspectors at A-Pro have reported on over the last 26 years:
Roof Leaks: Your home inspector has a number of ways to determine if a roof is letting water inside. Unsightly stains, mold, deterioration, and moisture in the attic or on interior walls and ceilings offer prime evidence that there is a leak coming from above. Even without these obvious conditions present, there may still be a destructive leak wreaking havoc between walls, causing damage to the sheathing, insulation, and roof framing. This can take the form of weakened trusses, beams, and roof decking. Some common causes of roof leaking include missing or improperly installed flashing; chimney deterioration; amateurish installation and aging of skylights and other roof penetrations; and broken and missing roof coverings. Your inspector will note these sources of leakage on the detailed home inspection report.
Window Leaks: Gaps around windows have the dual distinction of both letting water in and allowing air to escape, leading to decreased energy efficiency, higher utility bills, mold, mildew, and wood rot. Obvious signs of problems include cracks in the glass and water around the window after rain. The presence of water when it hasn’t rained may simply be a case of window condensation, while water between panes of glass is likely due to a failed glass seal. Of greatest interest to the home inspector, are gaps and cracks in the window sealant and caulk, which will invite in rain and melted snow. A savvy inspector will also be able to distinguish if staining on top of the frame is the result of a window issue or leakage behind a wall.
Kitchen and Bathroom Leaks: In these two moisture-intensive rooms, your home inspector will be checking for dampness, mold, mildew, fungus, discoloration, and deterioration on the bottom of the cabinets below sinks. Evidence of corroded fittings and valves or moisture at pipe joints will also be noted. Your inspector will report on flooring that is visibly damaged, sponge-like, or warped near dishwashers, toilets, tubs, fridges, and other appliances and fixtures. To confirm water issues in a second-floor bathroom, the inspector will check the room below for stains on ceilings and walls, or wall covering problems.
Basement Leaks: In the basement, there are a variety of leakage concerns. The inspector will be assessing visible pipes for signs of moisture and corrosion; basement windows for poor sealing and cracks; broken washing machine hoses; and rusted out hot water tanks. During the exterior portion of the inspection, possible culprits of leaky basements will be indicated, including clogged or broken gutter systems and wrongly sloped soil grading that directs water toward the foundation.