LESLIE: Water, water, everywhere. That’s usually a great thing – especially in these hot, summer months – except if you’re Sue who has water in her hallway.
LESLIE: Sue, what happened?
SUE: I have no idea. (Tom chuckles) That’s why I’m hoping you people will be able to help me.
LESLIE: Are you swimming?
SUE: No, it’s just the hardwood floors are wet.
TOM: Now is it after a rainfall? Let’s start with the basics.
TOM: It is after a rainfall? OK, so it is a roof leak.
SUE: Right. No. I don’t know. We’ve been up in the attic and we’ve looked when it rained and everything is dry, there’s nothing dripping. It’s got a crawlspace because it’s an older home and we crawl underneath and we can say, “Yeah, it’s damp under here.”
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. And are we near or underneath any bathrooms?
LESLIE: What is underneath? Do you know what your subfloor is underneath your hardwood?
SUE: It’s just, I believe, board.
TOM: Do you have a mischievous child that’s pouring a little water and saying, “Hey Ma, check this out?” (chuckles)
SUE: No. They’re all gone. (chuckles)
TOM: OK. Alright. Well, if it’s a roof leak, here are the most common places where roofs leak; and surprisingly enough, they’re not right through the shingles. Typically, it’s where a plumbing pipe goes through the roof, like a vent pipe or a chimney, or the roof changes directions. And you can get a leak that happens up higher on the roof and then runs down the roof rafters in the attic and then drips down somewhere lower. So you say you’ve been looking around that area. The first thing I would do is try to visually connect that spot of the roof with the area of the hallway that you’re finding to be wet and I would look up above that to see what could possibly be letting water into that area and letting it drain down and then drip out.
LESLIE: I have a suggestion.
LESLIE: What if – how do we know – especially since this is happening after rainy weather – how do we know that it’s not condensation from the moisture and the warmth coming up from the crawlspace underneath?
TOM: Well, usually condensation is not going to puddle on the first floor of a house. If you have condensation from a crawlspace, it usually gets the beams really damp and drippy and then you’ll see that downstairs when you’re crawling around in it. I mean I’ve gone through crawlspaces and had that water running off the beams but I’ve never seen the condensation come up to the floor surface. It’s more likely it’s coming down a wall cavity somewhere from above.
SUE: Right, and that wouldn’t be touching the walls; it just is the floor.
TOM: Right. Well, it could be running down and finding a gap and just kind of running out across the floor. But you need to look at that roof. If it’s tied into rainfall and you’re telling me you’re nowhere near any plumbing pipes or bathrooms, then it’s got to be in that roof. It’s got to be starting up there and working it’s way in and the most common place is around a pipe or around a chimney or where the roof comes together and meets another part of the house.
SUE: And would you notice it if the insulation would be wet? No?
TOM: You may or you may not because the water could be falling straight through that insulation and it really may not be that apparent. What you might want to do is pick up the insulation in that area and see if it’s wet underneath it.
SUE: OK, I sure do appreciate it.
TOM: Alright, give it a shot and if that doesn’t work out, call us back. 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.