Leaky house help!

My house is driving me crazy!

Several years ago, I discovered I had a serious problem on my hands: water was somehow getting into my west-facing exterior wall and creating wet spots on my finished basement’s ceiling where the basement ceiling joins up with the exterior wall. The problem only manifests in severe thunderstorms, when heavy wind driven rain hits the house just right. A very good contractor has been working with me to correct the problem; to date, we’ve replaced leaky windows, replaced siding, checked roof flashing, and sealed with caulking every crack and potential trouble spot we can find on that side of the house. I’ve even has a thermal-imaging company come out and scan the house to see if we could locate the trouble point that way. The siding replacement had appeared to fix the problem - until last night. A strong storm hit Omaha yesterday evening, and a wet spot appeared on my basement ceiling again. It was smaller than it had been before, but it was there. Obviously the problem hasn’t been completely fixed.

I’m at my wit’s end. Obviously this has to be fixed, or I risk mold growing in the wall eventually. But how can I locate the exact trouble spot? Does anyone have any helpful suggestions on what to do next?

You’ve don so much it’s hard to suggest anything more. Especially the thermal imaging should have revealed something. Maybe that needs to be done when it’s leaking, if not already.

I wonder if there is a possibility of a leak coming from the roof rake edge. Depending on home construction, a stream could make it to ground level. I have seen roofers put the drip edge on the rake UNDER the paper instead of OVER as it supposed to be. Water can run under the paper and down the inner wall. If your rake edge faces West, consider this possibility.

Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll have my contractor look at that.

No doubt this would be a much easier problem to fix if the leaking wasn’t limited to violent storms. Unfortunately, those usually happen not only infrequently, but during tradespeople’s off hours. I’ve never been able to get anyone out to the house while the leakage is actually in progress. (And it’s totally unpredictable, which doesn’t help; we’ve had multiple severe storms in Omaha this spring and summer, but the one on Saturday was the only one to cause any noticeable leaking this year)

Have you taken a hose to the side and top of the house, to see if you can cause the leak on demand? Maybe even a pressure cleaner, from a distance so you don’t peel the paint and actually cause damage?


Yeah, I was thiking the hose too. Start low, and give the water plenty of time to work its way in before moving up.

I once worked in a bulding where the rain didn’t start coming in until 3 days after the rain started.

could be multiple leaks, ground gradient around the foundation? two story house or single(excluding basement)? Look off to the sides of the leak and assumed water migration path a few feet. Worked on a house repairing water damage once around a front door, owner had assumed it was the door leaking and was working from that assumption, turned out it was a big hole (about 3") in the roof near the peak that had been going on for a while before discovery around the door.

I forgot to mention that my basement is a walk-out, and the western side is the 100% above-grade side. So this is definitely not a foundation problem; the trouble spot is about 10 feet above the ground. It’s got to be water flowing down inside the wall from from someplace high, or water somehow getting behind the siding and moving sideways through the wall.

I haven’t tried to replicate the problem with a hose; given the strength of the winds involved when the leak appears, I think it would take either a fire hose or a pressure washer to recreate the problem. Maybe I will ask my contractor to try that! And maybe it would be worthwhile to try the thermal scan again, now that the old, bad siding near the window has been replaced. I think part of the problem with the first scan is that so much of the wall was wet, finding the origin of the leak was problematic.

I just came across a house with dormer windows that had a leak down both sides of the outer wall of the 1st floor. It leaked on the inside and outside of the wall. It appeared that water was getting forced past the dormer/roof flashing, running down a truss beam and then down the first point of contact which is the outer wall top sill.

The house is a ranch with a walk-out basement, so it’s effectively a two story house on the western side (where the leak is happening). It has a complex roofline on that side as well, with a v-shaped peak over the cathedral ceiling great room tying into the lower, sloping roofline of the. master bedroom. So there are lots of places where the leak could be originating, unfortunately. I do think originally it was multiple leaks, and that my contractor has fixed several of them, since the problem is much better than it originally was. He just hasn’t fixed all of them.

I don’t think the problem is originating high on the roof, as last year after a big storm when the leak appeared my next-door neighbor ( who is handy) went into my attic checked out the underside of my roof. He didn’t spot anything, so I suspect the problem involves either the edge of the roof, or the spot where those two different rooflines tie together.

We had a leak with no apparent source (other than “the roof”). I crawled into the attic during a rain storm and could see water running down the interior and thought I found source. I had some roofers come over and they sprayed down the roof pretty good. All sorts of leaks occurred at various nail entries, including places I’d never seen it leak from. Bottom line: stripped and replaced the roof, including several sheets of plywood that were shot (though not where the current leak was).

So, yeah, check with a hose. That obviously takes at least two people.