LOPCO Blogs

Mysterious Leaks

If there were ever a topic that I could write about and provide seemingly countless examples for, ‘Mysterious Leaks’ would certainly be at the top of the list.

While unintentionally developing a bit of a reputation over the years as an expert leak diagnoser, my list of ‘out of the ordinary’ leak situations definitely has grown quite long.

Clearly, there are a whole number of leaks that are quite obvious to figure out.

Real world examples of these that I have run across include:

– A satellite dish which was held in place by brackets drilled right through the top of a roof shingle and when removed, leaving the holes behind open, without filling them

– A rotted (to the pulp!) windowsill which was fostering moisture between the walls of the home each time it rained and allowed water a free path

– A clogged gutter system that in moderate and above rainfall, backed up into the soffit it was hung from and subsequently into the home from there (Reminder, when you have your gutters cleaned, flush the system as well!! Do not simply pick the debris out of it!!!)

These were simple ones that did not take a rocket scientist (as they say) to figure out.

A list equally as long, if not longer, are those leaks whose source are head scratchers on steroids to solve.

A few examples of these types of leaks include:

– A cracked sewer venting pipe situated behind a wall and in between the wall and ceiling above it

– A leaking vinyl window, where the leak was stemming from where the side of the vinyl window met the inner sill and then leaking to places below from there

– A leak coming from a bathroom where the initial thought was it was a pipe leak, 2 ‘Plumber-of-the-Client’ visits later, after they had “fixed” the pipes, it was learned that the leak was actually coming from the floor of the bathroom and not the pipes

There is a system I utilize when working to nail down where a leak is coming from, and there are specific things I hone in on first to see if it is an easier leak to figure out than others.

For instance, if the leak appears to very much be coming from the roof, I start with what we refer to as “penetrations”.

Penetrations are anything that, literally, ‘penetrate’ the roof.

This could be a chimney that is not flashed properly (or that calls for a diverter behind it, but does not have one), it could be flashing around a dormer that pops out the roof of the house, or it could be the flashing of the portion of the sewer venting pipe that goes through the roof.

Once I go through the obvious progressions, I proceed to items that may not be as glaring.

These could include anything that I might be able to access without tearing into the house itself – one example is a windowsill that looked to be intact, but was actually rotted to the degree that it was able to allow water in.

After this, if still not found, the next step is to recommend ceilings and/or walls to be opened up.

Unfortunately, many times this is the route that is necessary to take as without approaching a leak from the backside and tracing its path, the leak’s starting point may not be able to be established (a leaking pipe is often the perfect example of this).

Whether a leak is super simple to recognize or one that requires an entire ceiling to come down to even begin having a shot at finding it, mysterious leaks are often not that mysterious at all, they simply need a formalized system of peeling back the layers to determine why they are occurring, what needs to be done to fix them, and finally, to execute the actual repair in correcting them so that damage that has been caused because of them can begin to be properly repaired.

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