Water Intrusion – Not Just a Caulking Issue

I recently did an inspection where water intrusion & moisture was an issue.  The sellers had done limited exterior maintenance in the 20 years they had been there so consequently there we a few areas of concern.  Additionally, of the things they did do, some were done wrong.  Here’s some general suggestions:

  • Windows are an area to be watched carefully.  It doesn’t matter what type of windows you have, you should be inspecting the caulking around the windows, the drip cap, the weep holes, and any seams in the window.  Caulk is your friend… don’t forget him!
  • Flashing around roof lines, bay windows, chimneys, etc will eventually need to be replaced… if you are replacing the roof you should look at the flashing as well.
  • Trees should be trimmed away from the house.  If a tree is rubbing up against a wall or roof, it can damage the home.  Also, without a “gap” between the house and trees, it is difficult for air to circulate around the home and keep it dry.
  • When repairing/remodeling/rebuilding decks, make sure that you have the flashing installed correctly.  Incorrectly installed flashing may actually encourage more water penetration.
  • Look at the bottom of exposed studs & sheetrock for water damage.  If there’s been water on the floor, it is usually quite easy to find signs of it on the walls.
  • Gutters are good.  Getting water further away from a home is always a good idea, so I always recommend gutters.  6′ downspouts are great.
  • Poorly maintained gutters are bad.  If gutters are left without maintenance, they will clog with leaves and start coming apart.  The only thing worse than no gutters are gutters that dump an entire roof’s rainfall on little spot against your foundation.
  • “Settling cracks” can be a sign of more problems.  If the house has cracks running between, or worse yet through, bricks or concrete blocks, it could be a sign of excessive settling.  Many times this is an issue with gutters.
  • Humidifiers should be used SPARINGLY.  I saw a house that had significant moisture staining on every single window in the house.  It was so bad in fact that some parts of some windows were replaced due to rot.  These were 20-year-old double-paned wood casement windows… which are very energy efficient… and should not have seen even 1/2 that damage.  If water is condensing on your windows, it is also condensing on your drywall, studs, sheathing, etc.  It’s a great way to ruin your windows and encourage mold growth in the wall cavity.  If you do use a humidifier, keep it set low and lower it even further when the weather gets extremely cold.  Also, keep your blinds partially open to allow air circulation.


  1. says

    I am a Soldier in the Army and I will be deploying to Iraq in February. I bought a 2001 Stanley Martin built townhome from the original owner, in Belmont Bay (Woodbridge, VA) the summer of 2006. Since I moved in, rainwater has been leaking into the house causing thousands of dollars in water intrusion damage, mold, and mildew. Only after I discovered the leak did I learn that the home had been leaking since it was built and the previous owner knew it, but did not disclose it to me. In fact, the previous owner is now the President of our Homeowner’s Association. My entire community has been enduring this problem with over 15 other Stanley Martin built homes that leaked when it rained. Stanley Martin attempted to band-aid-fix the problems – sometimes three or four times, many have been successful but some have not. It’s only a matter of time. My home has been “repaired” by Stanley Martin at least four times over the last five years, and it still leaks. Unfortunately Stanley Martin takes the quick, cheap easy way out rather than really fixing the problems. They don’t hire professional independent engineers who specialize in residential water intrusion, they use poor building materials, they hire unqualified laborers to do the work of professionals, they do not build to the International Residential Code standards, they do not inspect the work and they do not stand by their work. Stanley Martin Corp should not be allowed to build any more homes or buildings in Virginia (or anywhere else in the United States) until they repair the homes they have already built. I know of at least five other Stanley Martin homes that still leak, including mine. I developed pneumonia shortly after discovering the leaks even though I am very fit and healthy. My dog Lucy mysteriously became anemic and would have died if I hadn’t spent $1,500 on a blood transfusion and medication. Anyone buying or renting a home in Belmont Bay must demand the owners pay for an independent water test (test the home for water leaks) and a professional mold and mildew test. DO NOT SIGN A DISCLAIMER. DEMAND A DISCLOSURE STATEMENT from the owner as a condition of the sale or rental agreement. INSIST THEY ANSWER, IN WRITING, IF THE HOME HAS EVER LEAKED. This applies even if the home is brand new and you’re buying directly from Stanley Martin. DEMAND A WATER TEST and explicit water intrusion coverage in your warranty! Marvin Iavecchia mil06@msn.com