Haymarket Home Inspection - I Have A Leak Nobody Can Find

"I have a leak nobody can find.  Can you help?"

That's what the voice in the phone call said.  It was an elderly lady who has puddles show up on the floor in her breakfast room after rains.

Four years ago she had a bay window put in.  Beautiful job.  It overlooks the golf course and was a very nice addition.  But it began leaking recently.  She knew she had a problem, but didn't know what it was.

She called many contractors.  She paid them to come out.  Nobody could find the problem, or the source of the leak.  The leaking is too new to manifest staining, surprisingly.  There is no damage anywhere.  They told her that it must be coming from when she waters the plants, or from an open window, or leaving the door open, etc.  They were not too helpful!

She knew she had not done those things - after all, we all open windows and doors during rain storms, right?  What to do?

A friend suggested that she Google thermal imaging inspectors in the area.  She found me.  She called me.  Good for her!  I asked her if the other contractors had used thermal infrared cameras.  "No, they never mentioned one."

I asked, "If they are roof, siding and leak contractors, why wouldn't they have one?"  "That's why I called you!"

I was her lucky day.

It took me about 1 minute to discover where the water was getting in.  Literally.

Thermal imaging cameras measure temperature differences.  They do not see "inside" walls.  They do not "see" leaks.  They do not "see" anything.  

But with one you can "see" a lot!  It is a bit of an art, and a bit of a science.  But I could "see" right where water was getting in.  I bet you can too.

The purple indicates cooler spots.  The darker the spot, the cooler the area.  You might be able to see the darker spots.  Moisture!

From there it was easy to see how the gutter and flashing installation outside created these problems.

I also could tell that there was very poor insulation around the two sky lights and in the ceiling generally.  "So, that's why this room is cold?!"


I charged her one half  my normal fee, emailed her the report and referred her to a good roofing company I know.

And I rode off into the sunset...

My recommendation:  When you call contractors to determine where a leak might be occurring, get ahold of your favorite, certified  thermal image inspector.  That will save you time and money.  And that would be a big help.  It might be your lucky day too!

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Jay performs inspections Monday through Saturday, throughout Northern Virginia, from his office in Bristow to Leesburg and Centreville, to Great Falls and Vienna and everywhere in between!