So, you’ve done your homework and found the best possible inspector available to perform your home inspection. The agreement is signed (I hope you read it) and both Agent’s are sweating bullets waiting for the option period to expire so they can move you towards close (I jest, there are plenty of excellent Agents out there…I know a few if you’re interested).
The inspection date is nearing, you’ve done your preparation, and you happen to catch the local weather report and damn…it’s going to rain! Good!
I love inspecting a home when it is raining! In this article, I’ll share a few inspection photo’s from today’s inspection and explain why you shouldn’t be upset that your inspection is moving forward despite the rain.
The primary concerns that my clients have been “will I be able to walk the roof” and “what is the risk of not walking the roof?”
These are both good questions, and there is a proper concern (Keep in mind that there are a lot of inspectors that are upfront about not walking a roof, rain or shine). During a home inspection, I believe that if a roof can be safely traversed, it should be. But that’s because I’m interested in viewing certain angles that can’t be seen from the ground or from a ladder, but most of my clients seem to believe that if I don’t walk the roof I’ll miss the roof leaks.
Without getting into the primary purpose of a home inspection, which is not solely focused on finding roof leaks, I think it is important to know that your inspector will likely not be able to find most roof leaks just because he walked the roof. The truth is, inspectors, find roof leaks by looking for water damage in and around the attic as well as within the home. I have seen hundreds of roof leaks as a professional inspector. Most of the leaks that I found had no observable point of entry from the surface of the roof because the entry point was too small or impossible to locate during a non-destructive inspection. Roofers will often replace a broad swath of shingles and hope that they found and repaired the problem.
Back to why I love inspecting in the rain.
Roofs are most likely to leak around:
- Metal flashing
- Roof penetrations (plumbing vents, furnace vents, and exhaust vents)
Carefully navigating to the areas mentioned above gives the inspector a chance to see water leaking into the attic. A good inspector will do his or her (I’m going to continue with the masculine pronoun for simplicity) best to safely navigate around the attic trying to see as many of those common leak points as possible.
A great inspector will do that and a thermal scan to further maximize his chances of locating a roof leak.
A Leaking Roof Above the Front Entrance
Now that brings me to the leaks that I found and reported for my client this very rainy day. Now, when it is raining, I’m on the hunt because I know that I have a better chance of finding a leak. I wiggled my way into a small lower roof section, and I was awarded for my efforts.
Using a flashlight, I was able to see water spots collecting on the fiber cement soffit ceiling above the front entry. Without the rain, I never would have found this leak; here is why.
There were no signs of water entry observed when looking up at the radiant barrier roof decking. It was no longer dripping, and from whence it came, I did not know. When walking the roof directly above, I could not find a single defect, despite knowing that it was leaking. Further, when the water on the fiber cement siding dries, it likely won’t leave any stains or evidence that it was ever wet; that takes time.
In my inspection report, I included these three images for my client. I like to add compelling evidence for my defects to help with any negotiations that they may conduct. Adding this level of detail also helps them find and repair the defects as well (Some inspectors still don’t use photo’s!).
A Leaking Plumbing Vent Above the Garage
On the way back to the scuttle hole I wiggled into (you can see the scuttle hole in the background of one of the images), I inspected the other side of the garage attic and found another leak. This leak was coming from a minimal gap between the Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plumbing vent and the rubber gasket.
The gap was not visible when walking the roof, or from the ground; the angle on the roof was too steep at that location. I always look around the base of plumbing vents for water or water damage. In one of the images you can see my moisture probe confirming the leak, but the area was wet, so I only added the meter to provide overwhelming evidence.
When I did a thermal scan of the garage, the leak did not show (I, of course, knew it wouldn’t work because of its location on the decking). This type of leak can go unnoticed for an extended period because it doesn’t manifest itself on the garage side of the sheetrock until after it has sufficiently degraded the 2×6 lumber; which can take some time.
I hope you enjoyed the read, and I hope this prompted you to take advantage of the rain. Even if you’ve had your home inspected recently, it would be beneficial and possibly fruitful to safely observe your attic during a moderate to heavy rain. Stay tuned for my future articles regarding how to inspect your roof, and how to do your own thermal scan; along with what imager for periodic preventative maintenance.