Eight Years Having "Repairs" Done - And It Was Something Else?

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

How would you like to be a homeowner for eight years having "repairs" done - and it was something else?

From the moment these folks moved into their new house, when wind drove rain from the north, they had leaks all over the house.

The front of the house has a brick facade and faces due north.  Those are two important clues.

The builder, and then various contractors, for eight years, have returned time and again to caulk, goop caulk over caulk, goop more caulk and add counter flashing over the counter flashing.  NOTHING WORKED!

Finding me on line, they called and asked if I could evaluate the problem.  Sure!  They live about 300 yards from me!  It had rained four days earlier and they had leaks.  It's Saturday evening, and I don't work Sundays, so, not wanting to wait until Monday and have things dry out more, I went right over.  My thermal camera, Mighty Mo, was good enough to go with me.

Examining the outside first, I noticed that the wood trim of every single window was rotting in every lower corner.

BIG CLUE!  Water is coming from the inside out.

Each window had been caulked many times, all around the trim.  So many times it was ugly.  Obviously that did not solve the problem.

I wanted to see the windows, top floor first.

They said that nobody had ever wanted to see the windows before.


The brick work had been put right up to the windows.  Each window was framed with wood trim. 

Each window has a drain hole in the track that the sash comes down into.  BUT THERE WAS NO WHERE FOR THE WATER TO GO!  Look how the water fills up the track before it slowly drains away!

No window had provision for the water getting into the hole to escape.  If water cannot escape where does it go?

INTO THE HOLE AND DOWN!  Why?  Because gravity works.


Imaging from outside, and then the inside, the story becomes clear.

The left image is the wood framing just outside the window hole in the photo above.  Every corner of every window looks like this image.  The center image is the wall inside and under that same hole.  The right image is the ceiling of the garage below.

For the purposes of this blog, cooler temperatures (and therefore, in this case, moisture) are represented by lavender, blue and dark purple colors.


The moisture meter registered >30%, indicating active moisture intrusion, with moisture still present, in every window sill and every wall under the windows.  Imagine what it is like during the rain!

The homeowners report that as soon as the rain stops, the dripping stops.  And it drips under every window in the house.  That should have been a clue to every "repair" person who came to the house. 

So what is the problem?  THE WINDOW INSTALLATION!  From day one.  Will the builder fix it now that eight years have passed?  Likely not.

My recommendation:  if after many visits to "repair" a problem, and the same "repair" is repeated over and over, it might just be that the "repair" isn't working!  IF THE PROBLEM ISN'T WHAT EVERYONE SAYS IT IS, IT HAS TO BE SOMETHING ELSE!  Call a home inspector!  Especially one with Mighty Mo!  He might just be able to figure it out!  Thermal imaging is best practice!  And remember, all thermographers are really cute.


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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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I love Mighty Mo, Mike.  I wish I could still get the other Mighty Mo from the Hot Shoppe!

Sep 15, 2012 11:25 PM #32
Harry F. D'Elia
Real Estate and Beyond, LLC - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

My home inspector uses the infrared camera and it finds stuff like this all the time.

Sep 15, 2012 11:29 PM #33
Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl
Samsel & Associates - Clark, NJ
The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate

You're amazing, Jay! Great story - thanks fir sharing these poor homeowners' lesson!

Sep 15, 2012 11:29 PM #34
John F Muscarella
Broker/Owner, Venice, FL, Florida's Suncoast

Great story and something I'll remember.  Water is the enemy of every home so it's best to know where and how to deal with it before anything starts. 

Sep 15, 2012 11:41 PM #35
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Harry - it is the sharpest arrow in my quiver!

Thanks W&J - I hope they have a great resolution.

John - it is THE enemy!  And this is a big problem, I think.

Sep 16, 2012 12:28 AM #36
Randy Ostrander
Lake and Lodge Realty LLC - Big Rapids, MI
Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI

Good morning Jay and good call. You and Mighty Mo to the rescue. The other great thing is your online presence is good enough for them to find you. Win/win on your score card.

Sep 16, 2012 12:46 AM #37
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

Those folks apparently never had the definition of insanity explained to them.


They finally woke up and tried something different. Voila! You and Mighty Mo removed the blinders from their eyes.


After eight years! Sheesh!

Sep 16, 2012 12:56 AM #38
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Do not leave home or buy a home without this man.....These eyes and ears earn their keep when at work..good post and thank you Jay

Sep 16, 2012 01:46 AM #39
Jeffrey DiMuria 321.223.6253 Waves Realty
Waves Realty - Melbourne, FL
Florida Space Coast Homes

I love your blog post here. I really think from what I see you are an inspector who cares...we need more of you.

Sep 16, 2012 02:47 AM #40
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor

Good catch the weep holes are there for a reason. I don't understand why people feel the need to fill them up with goop. If good goop doesn't work the first time it won't work the next 8 years worth. The thermal imaging can be very valuable in the right hands and this proves it.

Sep 16, 2012 03:04 AM #41
Nan Jester
Exit Real Estate Gallery Jacksonville Beach, FL - Jacksonville Beach, FL
Realtor, Exit Real Estate Gallery

Obviously depends on the builder as to whether or not they will do the right thing. Many of the upstanding national builders will agree to repairs if the problem was because of their faulty installation. Reputation IS critical.

Sep 16, 2012 03:47 AM #42
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Sometimes one's thinking cap must be worn when making evaluations :)  I love it when the weep holes are on the top---because as we all know---water is not only affected by gravity---it must also run up hill!

Sep 16, 2012 04:56 AM #43
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Randy - that presence is good!  I don't know any other thermographers in the area, so that might be part of it.  The other, of course, is being cute.

John - the guy said to me that he never thought it could be the windows!

Richie - thanks, and hopefully I actually figured out the problem!

Thanks Jeffrey too!  I would do this for free if I could.

Sep 16, 2012 05:52 AM #44
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Rob - thermal imaging is plain fun.  But still, it's a serious tool and my sharpest arrow.

Nan - this builder does not have a good rep in our area, I can tell you that!

Window Shadow - didn't the Roman aqueducts go uphill mile after mile?  Pretty sure.

Sep 16, 2012 05:54 AM #45
Chris Smith
Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage - New Tecumseth, ON
South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta

Jay, finding the root cause before attempting the repair seems intuitive, but I guess it is not so for everybody.  Glad to see they found you.

Sep 16, 2012 10:16 AM #46
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Chris - they did the "obvious" I think, which is a form of busy work.  Why one keeps doing it is unknown to me.

Sep 16, 2012 08:14 PM #47
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Why is caulk though of as a repair? Or if a little doesn't work, add more. 

Sep 17, 2012 10:38 PM #48
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

And read the label!  It says that any more than 1/4" is less effective!  And should silicone be used with mortar and brick Jim?  Why do they always use silicone?

Sep 17, 2012 10:41 PM #49
Spectrum Inspection Group
Spectrum Inspection Group - Las Vegas, NV

Thermal imaging guns are a life saver!  We use them on all of our inspections and they have made a pretty big difference!  Excellent post!

Sep 19, 2012 09:52 AM #50
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks Spectrum.  I really love mine.  While I can't say I use it on every inspection, I consider it the sharpest arrow in my quiver.

Sep 19, 2012 10:02 AM #51
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Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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