Cracking Under The Pressure

Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

Cracking under the pressure.  You hear that story all the time.

We all have our cracking point.  No matter the context, and no matter how strong we are, there is always a breaking point.  And we feel badly!

This house demonstrates an architectural, or other design, flaw. 

This photo looks at half of the rear roof.  Look carefully.  Virtually all of the rain water (that's a LOT of water) for that half is directed to one little gutter and one downspout.

See it now?

That gutter is about 5' long! 

And it is the narrower 5" gutter and smaller downspout.

You can see staining on the deck under that small gutter, so it has overflowed regularly under heavy rains.  Necessarily!

But even a larger gutter and downspout would not help the other problem created.

All of that water has to discharge.

This house is 9 years old, so nothing has ever been done about this problem.

And it is obvious someone knew about this problem.

It drains right beside a basement door stairwell!

And has for all these years.

That's a lot of water! 
That's a lot of weight!
That's a lot of pressure!

Seems to me things are leaking!  The penetrations through the wall are leaking.  And you can't see them, but there are two cracks in that wall.

This is the worst one.

The homeowners actually put caulking into the crack to "fix" it.

It is directly under that downspout discharge point.

This is actively leaking, with stains on the floor and muck in the stairwell drain.

The solution?

Since they demanded one small gutter and downspout to handle so much roof water, at least they should have designed the larger ones for the load.

And, from construction, had they buried that downspout discharge to drain to the left of the photo at the top, there is open grass there and it would have been a great feeder for the grass, or a garden or tree there.

That's a lot of forethought however.

The construction supervisor should have caught this.
The roofer/gutter installer should have caught this.
The landscaping company should have caught this.


Now there's a different problem to deal with.

My recommendation:  don't discount gutters and downspouts from any home inspection.  Water is THE killer of houses, inside and out.  If not properly controlled and directed water will eventually do what it does best!




Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


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Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

Great explanation of the need for getting the water away from the building Jay. You are right, this should have been caught long ago.

Jul 16, 2012 12:14 AM #17
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Tom - from the very first drawing of the plans!  But there was so much opportunity since then to correct this!

Jul 16, 2012 01:24 AM #18
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Jay, Water will have its way so you better prepare for it to have its best solution for exit that will not damage or create other problems. Good eye.

Jul 16, 2012 10:39 AM #19
Greg Miller
Ruoff Home Mortgage - Sarasota, FL
Florida Home Loans - Conventional,FHA,USDA,VA

Excellent post & explaination Jay. Your visuals seem like this should have been a easily caught flaw.

Jul 16, 2012 10:44 AM #20
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

Good evening, Jay. It is amazing what I see builders do to take the cheapo way out. Ran into something similar today. Sadly, in my area, 4" gutters meet "Codes"...

Jul 16, 2012 11:06 AM #21
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

It's amazing that no one had the foresight to catch this.  Eagle eyes at it again.  Great job!

Jul 16, 2012 11:30 AM #22
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

That's some terrible water management.  Tough to tell from the first photo, but that water doesn't all get directed in to the wall before getting to the lower gutter, does it?

Jul 16, 2012 11:40 AM #23
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Debbie - I saw the rear roof problem before I saw the crack in the wall!

Greg - there was all kinds of opportunity to catch this prior to my visit!

Michael - that is a little gutter!  Good luck with it!

Thanks Jan.  But I am always seeing roof problems where too much water is directed to one small area.  It's a design problem, and people need to think ahead.

Reuben - there is a downspout on that upper corner, plus all that roof water there too.  It's bad management all around.

Jul 16, 2012 11:46 AM #24
Julie Bentley
Watson Realty Corp, Jacksonville, FL - St Johns, FL
Saint Johns, FL REALTOR

Thanks for an informative post, Jay. Another example of severe consequences to what was an avoidable situation. Much to my surprise when I moved to the Jacksonville area a couple of years ago, gutters are neither required by code nor regularly installed in new construction here. While we don't have basements to worry about, the rainfall we have here can be intense and I can't tell you how many mulched beds I've seen washed away after a heavy rain.

Jul 16, 2012 12:26 PM #25
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

Hello Jay,

Your one sentence says it all "that's a lot of forethought however"....

Jul 16, 2012 01:19 PM #26
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc - Gulf Breeze, FL
Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl.

There are so many solutions that are shared here and I am amazed that this continues. My drains go to a rain barrel and then slowly water the yard.

Jul 16, 2012 01:44 PM #27
William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - La Jolla, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE
Hi Jay, My experience over the years in real estate is that water is key destroyer of property. I can't think of one single issue that does more damage to interiors and exteriors than failed water magaegment. And it is also my opinion that most builders take too many shortcuts in this regard and use products that are or can be easily be ruined with leaks and other improper installations.
Jul 16, 2012 02:39 PM #28
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Jay - This is an excellent post and I'm glad ActiveRain featured it.  Water can cause substantial damage to property.  It is always good to divert it away, especially from foundations, when you can!

Jul 16, 2012 03:56 PM #29
James Dray
Fathom Realty AR LLC - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning Mr. Jay congratulations on the feature they just don't get boring do they?  The home looks like a great property but as you noted the problem should have been caught a long time ago

Jul 16, 2012 07:52 PM #30
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Julie - I have heard there are areas without gutters, which is okay I guess if you are on a slab and it splatters away from the house.  But washing away flower beds isn't fun!

Lisa - my little bit of sarcasm thrown in.  I can be a bit dry.

Joyce - and the yard appreciates it!  As would trees nearby!

William - short cuts can happen and do.  I think this is a case of no think, my opinion.

Jul 16, 2012 09:01 PM #31
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks Myrl.  Water has to be controlled by us because IT is controlled by physics!  It can't help itself!

James - no, they don't get old.  This is a beautiful house.  The engineer is going out today to look at that wall and a roofer and electrician tomorrow.

Jul 16, 2012 09:02 PM #32
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

You know what they say, crack kills. And so does water.


Jul 18, 2012 09:20 AM #33
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

They had an engineer by yesterday, Jim, and his conclusions were the same as mine.  He, however, has juice!

Jul 18, 2012 10:30 AM #34
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

Jay, Where was the inspector when the home was built? If it had been you this would not have happened.

Jul 19, 2012 06:54 AM #35
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

There were many inspectors Tom.  Thanks, but you know the builder will tell people they don't need an inspection on new construction!

Jul 19, 2012 12:19 PM #36
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