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Design flaws show themselves.


Brandon Whitmore
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This house was built in 2001. It's a 1700 sq. ft. 2 level home with a crawlspace.

Last Dec. we had a cold snap, and lots of pipes froze/ burst in the area; today's house was one of them that had issues. The problem is that this particular house was and still is bank owned, so nobody noticed for a while. The next door neighbor awoke one morning to find water pouring out of the exterior doors, down the driveway, and into the street. The older gentlemen called 911 and then ran walked briskly over to the meter and shut water off to the place. Apparently, a water line had burst in the upper level master bathroom.

According to the neighbors, nothing was done to the saturated house until a couple of months ago (10 months later), so it sat dripping wet for all of that time, with no heat to the home during that time.

The creative listing agents listing states "much mold remediation done", but I'm still trying to figure out what "mold remediation" means to her. Drywall and wall insulation was mostly removed along the entire lower level of the home, while drywall and insulation was removed from the bottom 4' of the upper level, but only in areas. There is visible mold and fungal growth in quite a few areas, and the only repair I noticed was that they replaced the CPVC water pipes in the home; not really sure why they put money into that, but didn't dry the place out.

My Tramex Moisture Encounter Plus moisture meter went off the charts on residual building components throughout. There was heavy condensation built up on items throughout the house, some lights flickered when I turned them on, there was corrosion/ oxidation on metal components/ wires in the home, etc.

Anyways, I figure I will post pictures of what I would consider design flaws, and the damage it caused to the building. It's not every day that I get to inspect a house that has been ripped open after only 10 years.

I'll post as I have time in the next couple of days.

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Issue number one:

The gutters for the upper level roof line shed water onto the lower roof line. This can cause premature wear in the shingles due to the constant high water volume shedding down them. In this case, they installed a vent for the kitchen exhaust duct directly below the point where the water sheds. I can't tell you for sure how screwed up the vent installation is, because there is tar covering up the vent flashing, but dumping a bunch of water onto it is definitely not helping.

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This can cause premature wear in the shingles due to the constant high water volume shedding down them.

Hi Brandon, do you have anything to back that up? I can't imagine that water alone could do anything to wear the shingles in such a short period of time such as 20 - 25 years or more. When I have seen wear in an area like that, it could always be traced to some other cause like moss, etc.

Chris, Oregon

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This can cause premature wear in the shingles due to the constant high water volume shedding down them.

Hi Brandon, do you have anything to back that up? I can't imagine that water alone could do anything to wear the shingles in such a short period of time such as 20 - 25 years or more. When I have seen wear in an area like that, it could always be traced to some other cause like moss, etc.

Chris, Oregon

I've written it up several times but I've nothing to back it up other than common sense. That doesn't stop me.

My boilerplate on this write up also includes mention of the possibility of water backing up on the shingles and breaching the roof finish. The manufacturer never intended for the shingles to handle this volume of water, IMHO.

Marc

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The manufacturer never intended for the shingles to handle this volume of water, IMHO.

Are you saying that manufacturers don't intend for shingles to be installed in valleys? The quantity of water is no different.

True. I made a lousy choice of words. How's this: Valleys have, or should have, a different underlayment treatment than that of flat surfaces. The fact that a valley is an intersection of two separate planes isn't the only reason for the additional precautions. There's greater water flow there.

Marc

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While I have seen damage like that it Darrens photo, I still see no evidence that the flow of water caused that damage. It's more likely to be a result of moss, moss removal by force, or something else. The damage pattern is not consistent with the flow of water.

This topic came up a few years ago, and I started investigating further whenever I had the chance. I found it was usually not consistent on the same house. I have even inspected houses in the same neighborhood, built at the same time with the same floor plan/roof etc. and the deterioration was not consistent.

My conclusion, there's not enough concentrated flow that can cause that damage on any decent asphalt shingle; it's a result of other factors.

Chris, Oregon

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While I have seen damage like that it Darrens photo, I still see no evidence that the flow of water caused that damage. It's more likely to be a result of moss, moss removal by force, or something else.

If you were to report the damage, as seen in Darren's photo, what would you say is the likely cause of it?

Permission to snag this photo Darren?

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Hi Brandon, do you have anything to back that up? I can't imagine that water alone could do anything to wear the shingles in such a short period of time such as 20 - 25 years or more. When I have seen wear in an area like that, it could always be traced to some other cause like moss, etc.

Cool, we've got a discussion going......

Hey there Chris,

No, nothing to back it up. It's just what I've noticed over the years; that being that there is a greater likelihood of premature wear at these areas. If I was good at archiving photos, I could pull up plenty of cases where there was premature wear directly below the half moon cut. Maybe it's not the water causing it, but from debris flowing out of the gutter slowly grinding away at the shingles?? I really don't know.

It's a common design, and I don't specifically write it up as an issue, unless it's causing problems. Dumping large volumes of water onto a weak point in a system (vent and sidewall in this example) does expose minor installation defects that may otherwise never be an issue. In this case, there is an unused rain drain directly below the other end of the gutter, so it was unnecessary to drain that water onto the lower roof plane. If there wasn't a roof penetration directly below, then it would probably have never been an issue. In my report, I did recommend capping off the one end of the gutter, and running a new downspout to the rain drain. (you'll see why later- there were more installation errors/ design flaws).

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ISSUE #2:

Directly below issue number one is the area where the lower level roof lines gutter meets the house wall. Maybe there is a reason why kick out flashing is supposed to be installed, and that gutters really should be held back away from the wall a good half inch or so......

The siding on the sides and rear of this place is LP (Smart Side). Back in 2001, a WRB was not required for this siding, so it's LP panel fastened directly to the studs. It's a bad idea to not install a WRB, because as soon as sealant fails, water pours right in.

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So basically, all of the water draining off of the upper level roof line runs down to or near this location where kick out flashing should have been installed. The kick out flashing is missing, and to make matters worse, there is a leak in the gutter end cap. As you can see, water drains down onto the kitchen window and seeps right in, because the caulk was not maintained--- in my opinion, caulk shouldn't need to be the primary seal against water intrusion-- this is what happens when your average homeowner doesn't maintain the seals, the contractor does crap work, etc.

EDIT: Added info:

Here's a reminder to pay attention during the dry season. Many of the signs of water intrusion will not be readily visible in a finished house, besides some stains on the foundation-- assuming there is subfloor insulation below. During the wet season, this stuff is tough to miss. (area below the window)

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Maybe it's not the water causing it, but from debris flowing out of the gutter slowly grinding away at the shingles?? I really don't know.

I think you may be on to something.

All I know for sure is that I commonly see accelerated wear in these areas. I hardly ever see moss associated with the condition. If it isn't the water itself, it could be debris and granules that wash off the field shingles, abrading the shingles on the lower roof.

Tim

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The manufacturer never intended for the shingles to handle this volume of water, IMHO.

Are you saying that manufacturers don't intend for shingles to be installed in valleys? The quantity of water is no different.

I think that there is a major difference between water flowing down a valley, and the same volume of water being concentrated and then dropped (accelerated) several inches onto a much smaller area. The physics are not nearly the same, it seems to me.

Tim

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Here's an installation defect I see all too often. The plastic roof vents come with pre- punched holes so that nails can be driven through. Roofers end up using their nail guns to shoot holes through the flashing elsewhere. It's all too common for cracks to develop. On this house, every single roof vent was cracked like these ones.

I'm not really a fan of plastic vents, but they often work fine when installed properly.

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Issue number one:

The gutters for the upper level roof line shed water onto the lower roof line. This can cause premature wear in the shingles due to the constant high water volume shedding down them.

Agreed.

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Want to see worn valleys, I've got those, too.

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I don't concur. I've been telling you guys for years, but you don't seem to get it, that moss and algae secrete oxalic acid to eat. It's the same stuff that one would use to bring back the color of concrete. If it can etch concrete, it can cause the bond between those granules and the shingle matting to break down, cause the granules to slough off and the shingle media to break down. That is, if you care to listen.

We have both of those gutter details in abundance in our damp Seattle climate and it never seems to be an issue unless there is slime buildup retained on the roof or algae stains present at the damaged area.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I don't concur. I've been telling you guys for years, but you don't seem to get it, that moss and algae secrete oxalic acid to eat. It's the same stuff that one would use to bring back the color of concrete. If it can etch concrete, it can cause the bond between those granules and the shingle matting to break down, cause the granules to slough off and the shingle media to break down. That is, if you care to listen.

We have both of those gutter details in abundance in our damp Seattle climate and it never seems to be an issue unless there is slime buildup retained on the roof or algae stains present at the damaged area.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Mike, just to clear my head, which camp are you in? Your 1st paragraph seems to support the theory that a large volume of water dumped from an upper roof via a downspout may damage shingles from the oxalic acid content of that water. The 2nd supports the opposite.

Marc

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No,

That's not what I said at all. The oxalic acid secreted by the moss and algae clinging to the shingles is what breaks down the material. The water only washes the loosened material away.

He titled the thread "Design flaws show themselves." I don't think it's a design flaw at all. Nothing really bad will happen from that water as long as they are careful to remove any algae, moss or lichen as soon as it begins to appear, instead of leaving it there to continue to feed and loosen those granules. These examples they are showing all show signs of algae or moss - is it any wonder there is wear there?

The roof will be fine despite all of that water rushing onto the surface. If your really afraid of what that water will do to the surface, though I don't think it's necessary, tell the client to slip some pieces of shingle in over the washed area as a sacrificial surface. They'll take the brunt of the wear from any water.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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