Skippy will’ve skipped, before the water starts to drip.

Skippity Do Da …Skippity De Day…..

Skippy will’ve skipped, before the water starts to drip.  (This is #1 in a series on a single flipped house.)


Skippy label

Well…we don’t know that ‘Skippy” did it, but Skippy’s tag is on the equipment.

That equipment of this flipped property is on the roof (and a few other places), and that’s where we find ‘It’.

So on the roof we have this installed. The refrigerant lines pierce the roof membrane flashing and counter flashing right at the wall to roof joint. That’s too low and this will leak, admitting water to the house.

 DSCF0019a.jpg   DSCF0020a.jpg

 ‘Skippy’ appears to be a local HVAC contractor or equipment vendor. The number on the lable is for a cell phone (mobile).

The Air Conditioning system itself is fine, but how it’s set up will create problems for the home owner.

Caulking can NOT be used to make a waterproof seal aganst loose gravel stones. It just won’t work. More caulking dosen’t help. Water will just soak through the gravel and follow the piping into the home.

This will be leaking sooner rather than later. These lines should have been located so as to enter higher up the wall, at least above the metal counter flashing, but a practical recommendation would be 12 to 18″ up from the roof surface. Think snow depth.

 And then there is this detail;


 Despite the fact that the wood is pressure treated, it will be long gone before the end of the service life of this equipment.  The supports (scraps of fence boards – you can’t buy thinner) will have to be replaced before then.

 (The current best practice for these installations is to use the plastic pads that are available now for this purpose. The secondary bonus is they are made from recycled materials.)

 And there is Skippy’s tag, (circled) and if this is a sample of how ‘Skippy’ works, then Skippy will have skipped long before the water starts to drip.

This reno is a flip. Granite counter tops won’t matter when the ceiling starts to drip. So, would you take the bet that Skippy will not skip.

This is # 1 of a series on the same flipped house.

1.    Skippy will’ve skipped, before the water starts to drip.

2.    Double Header…Raining On You, Times Two!

3.    A Case Of New Not Being Better … A Stair Story 

4.    Posting soon: A Case Of More Not Being Stronger…..A Stair Story. 

5.    Posting soon:  The LANDING Looked Good But Is There A CRASH In The Future?

6.    To come – landing/deck

7.    To come – electrical

8.     To come – exterior & landscaping


Please remember to have an inspection during the real estate process to help eliminate any of these concerns!

Put our experience to work for you. 


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

Window Stains: When To Be Concerned

This article highlights an all too common problem detail with the siding finishes around doors and windows. Home owners with this and similar siding types should become familiar with how these components work and what is needed for their maintenance.

This is a reprint of an article by one of my associates, Reuben Saltzman, (MN) and should you wish to comment on his article please click through the links and do so directly on his blog.

For anyone wanting answers about this and similar problems for a home or property in the Montreal area please contact me Robert Butler at any of the numbers listed below.

Water stains on window sills is often a source of anxiety for home buyers, and it’s the home inspector’s job to help determine if the stains are the sign of a major problem or not. There are three common causes of water stains on windows:

  • Leaving the windows open.  The windows get left open, and water pours in through the window during a rain storm.  This type of staining will often leave fairly uniform water staining across the window sill.
  • Condensation Staining at windowCondensation.  If it’s a wood window, you’ll see stains at the corners of the window sashes and the window sills if the stains are caused by condensation.  You’ll also find the worst stains on the windows that are most likely to be damp, such as in bathrooms or bedrooms just outside the bathrooms.  The windows at the north side of the house will be worse than windows on the south side.
  • Leaking windows. If water is actually leaking in to the house around the opening for the window at the siding, this will typically show up as staining at the corners of the window sills.  The photo below left shows what a window sill may look like with minor water leakage in to the wall; the photo below right shows a window sill with major damage from water leakage.  A home inspector could use a moisture meter to help determine if the stains are currently damp.  These are the types of stains to be most concerned about.

Water staining at window sill from minor leakage Water staining at window sill from major water leakage

The first two causes of stains are fairly straightforward and easy to prevent; remember to close the windows before it rains, and lower the humidity in your home.  Here are a few tips to lower the humidity in your home:

  • Turn off your whole house humidifier (duh)
  • If you have one, use your kitchen exhaust fan when you’re cooking.  Gas ovens add a considerable amount of moisture to the air.
  • Turn on your bathroom exhaust fan during showers and leave them on for a half hour after every shower.  If you don’t have a bathroom exhaust fan, get one.  While the building code allows an openable window as a substitute for a fan, I don’t 😉
  • If you have a crawl space, make sure that a proper vapor barrier is installed on the crawl space floor.
  • Install an HRV or a continuous exhaust fan.  Either one of these will dramatically lower humidity levels in a home.

The third cause of staining at windows, leaking water from the exterior, is the one that home buyers should be concerned about.  A window can leak from just the slightest defect in flashing at the top, and unfortunately, it’s not easy for home inspectors to know if a window is going to leak just by looking at the siding.

View of window from outsideIf the flashing above a window is installed properly, all of the water coming down the siding will be diverted around the sides of the window.  The windows that will be exposed to the most water are the windows that aren’t protected from rainwater by soffits and gutters – such as the window shown at left.

The photo below shows the proper path for the water to take; I know this is kind of a ‘no-duh’ issue, but actually thinking through this stuff helps me to know which windows I really need to pay particular attention to during home inspections.

Proper Water Path

Here’s a close-up view of the window flashing, showing the path that water is supposed to take… but this window has a nasty detail in the flashing that will be prone to leakage.  Do you see it?

Proper Water Path closeup

Here’s another close-up view, pointing out the exact issue with the flashing.

Proper Water Path closeup 2

As you can see in the photo above, if the caulking at the J-molding around the window fails, the window is going to leak.  Big time.  As a matter of fact, it has failed at this particular window, and that’s what is causing the major water staining at the bottom of the sill, which is what was shown above.   Could you tell just by looking at the exterior of the window?  I couldn’t.

The repair for this condition is to have the flashing redone, so the window isn’t relying on the caulking to keep water out.  This project will probably only take about an hour or two to complete, but it would have taken the original installer an extra two minutes to get it right.  My first thought was that the installer was either lazy or a bonehead, but at the time this window was installed, which was about twelve years ago, this was just the way it was done.

If I saw an installation like this on a relatively new home, I’d call it a boneheaded installation.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – EmailMaple Grove Home Inspections

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Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

Does ‘FLASHING” remind you of a ‘perv’ in the park? (Part 2)Connotations of ‘CAULK’ and ‘FLASH’ .

Does ‘FLASHING” remind you of a ‘perv’ in the park?  Does that mean “CAULK” is a 4 letter word to you ?

That’ seems to be the case now a days.


On the left: Roofing meet flashing (black cap flashing). Flashing meet caulk. Caulk meet old tar ( old brittle cracked leaking tar).

On the right: Roofing meet new flashing (couldn’t be made smaller). New flashing meet surface caulking. Surface caulking meet porous wet brick.

SO who’s leaking now : Every place the new caulking touches old materials some small amount of wetting or water entry is happening. It only gets worse over time.

chimney flashing details

The proven standard for flashing  was returned into the wall or chimney material, a mortar joint in the case of masonry. It was then bent downward to generously cover the upward edge of the roofing membrane. That top edge where it tucked into the masonry was filed with caulking from behind the brick face to a bevel finish on the outside that shed water.

This was called ‘let-in flashing’ and it works very well. The core of the caulking in the slot or brick joint takes a long time to dry out, i.e. age. Where it does age the top returned edge of the flashing is still there to redirect any water that has gotten by back out to the surface and away. The better workmen made a small up turn at the inside of the return inset into the brick. Very often this functioned effectively long after the original caulking dried up and washed away.


The job shown in the photo above is not that type.  It is what we call caulking reliant.  That means every thing is sealed with the caulking and has to rely on that bond.  No matter what the caulking manufacturer claims about his product, it is only as effective as the material it is in contact with.

So if you caulk against old tar, etc. your water proofing is as good as…. the old tar.  SO that edge will soon fail.  A handy man sent up with a tube of caulking can try to keep on top of it.  And he can keep things fairly dry, but he has to be a diligent and frequent visitor.

This is what home inspectors mean when they describe something as a maintenance intensive installation.  Is it wrong, or a bad job?  No, but it is short sighted economics that the home owner needs to be aware of.

So is caulking a four letter word?  Maybe, but many caulking jobs are the generators of unrestrained expletives.

And flashing is getting so minimal and ineffective it may disappear from popular lexicons and the only meaning recognized may be that shadowy trench coated figure in the park.




Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post