Beware Unwanted Side Effects of Power Washing Your Home's Exterior
Earlier this year, I listed a home in the best condition I have encountered in a long time. The sellers truly cared about their property and had made sure that it was in tip top shape to hit the market. That included a good power washing of the vinyl siding.
In time, after some lowball offers from buyers, the home attracted an offer the sellers were very happy to accept. What could possibly go wrong when you have a home in this tip top condition, with all new systems, during home inspection?
Cue a torrential rain storm that had two and a half inches of rain slamming into the home with a fierce wind behind it, during the span of one hour.
It's never a good sign when you get a phone message from the buyer's agent that simply states her name, that she's at the home and there's a problem that cropped up during inspection. "Please call me as soon as you get this."
During the inspection/torrential rain storm, the inspector pulled the cover off the electrical panel and water was running down it. There was also water coming out of an overhead light socket in the basement. Yikes. The buyer's agent went on to say, "The buyer is voiding the contract."
This is not the kind of news you deliver over the phone. I made contact with the sellers and headed over to the home. First and foremost, I was concerned for their safety. Water running down the electrical panel and coming out of a light socket were nothing to take lightly.
The sellers were hesitant to believe the issues. Thankfully, the buyer's agent has sent me a video of the electrical panel and told me that the light socket issue would be evident by the water on the leather sofa in the basement. We looked up, there was no water stain. The sofa did indeed tell the tale. A lot of water there. So the husband got on the sofa and pulled out the light bulb, the trim and felt around. Yep. It was wet.
Where was the water coming from?
The sellers and I went outside, worried that if the home inspector couldn't figure it out, that we would be left stumped too. The two water intrusion issues were immediately evident. The putty around the holes in the siding where the main electrical line and cables for internet and TV came into the basement was missing. You could see the basement lights through the holes. And lining up with the placement of the light fixture, a vent outside that was warped and missing caulking. The wind had driven the massive amounts of rain into the holes. And our buyers, moving to the area from the southwest, were voiding the contract.
How did these vital water proofing measures fail? In addition to being dried out over time, the power washing of the home blew them out. It was only an hour after my departure that the connected the dots.
If you are going to, or have recently, power washed your home, check points of entry that should be caulked or puttied. You don't want water pouring out of an overhead light fixture or running down your electrical panel. And if you happen to experience an issue like this during a home inspection in a torrential rain storm, check those points of entry. If they are compromised, ask the seller to re-putty around entry line holes and caulk around vents. Come back and recreate the issue with a hose, right on the problem area. If you can't recreate the water intrusion, it is fixed and you can breathe a sigh of relief.