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Question DetailsAsked on 6/9/2016

If I have a roof leak, and repair it, is it necessary to tear the wall down to look for damage/mold?

Only during heavy wind driven rain we get water leaking down one window, pooling on the window sill and leaking over to the kitchen counter. The water continues to come long after the rain subsides, 30 to 60 min. I have a lean too roof on this side of my house. I believe the wind pushes the draining water back up the roof onto the top of an exterior wall, where it leaks down. I only see water at this one place in the house. I believe the wall has gotten wet several times over the last four or five years. I believe I know how to fix the problem, but will I need to tear out the inside or the outside of the exterior wall to look for mold ? I believe the wall is still structurally sound.

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1 Answer


Since it runs for 20-60 minutes after the rain stops, that certainly sounds like it eliminates a window leak - so almost certainly running down in the wall, soaking the insulation, which then drains out slowly. Could also be piling up in the attic (if flat-ceiling room) on top of a vapor barrier on top of the ceiling drywall - though you would usually be getting staining around the edges of the ceiling and maybe leakage through ceiling light fixtures.

Since it keeps on draining down, I would assume the interior of the wall is soaking wet - and if this has been going on for a long time, perhaps rotting or a fungus farm.

Of course, until the leak source is found and fixed (presumably with some roofing removal and ice and water shield and reroofing in the trouble area if you are right on the cause and have a shingle or tile roof), not much use fixing the wall. Or could be a simpler flashing problem - water blowing onto the wall and running down it hits the lean-to roof (if located partway down the wall) and is running into the wall because there is not proper flashing catching the runoff and directing it onto the roof. Once the leak is proven to be fixed, I would open up a couple of small inspection holes in the wall to inspect - maybe right above the window, and just above the floor a couple of inches, and poke around to see how moldy or fungusy or rotted it is in there.

If this has been going on for 4-5 years, and you have not had water staining on the interior, I would guess maybe the leak is coming from the attic or from the siding down the OUTSIDE of the vapor barrier (wherever it is located in your wall) or the inside of the siding so is not soaking the interior plaster except at the window where it breaks through the gap in the vapor barrier. If you have not seen/smelled interior mold, the wall might not be significantly damaged - one-time wetting tend to wick and evaporate out pretty quickly and rarely cause rot or significant mold because it needs to stay wet for days for that to develop. Therefore, a situation where only hard wind-blown rain gets into it might (if that is not normal rainstorm occurrence in your area) dry out after each wetting without major issues whereas an every-rain leak would, though obviously not a "good" situation to keep happening in any event.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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