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Question DetailsAsked on 12/27/2015

We have a two story home one room upstairs and down has wet carpet during rain, why?

Wet carpet downstairs and upstairs is near a window, baseboards are dry, it is only one side of the house.

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1 Answer


If the upstairs wetness is right under a window, and the wall above the upstairs window is dry and no signs of mold or staining, then is likely worn out seals or rot in the window unit or, more commonly, failed flashing or caulk around the outside of the window frame. While it is possible for a roof leak (check in the attic for wetness/staining if accessible, or by strong flashlight through the eaves off a ladder if not) to leak down into a wall (usually if leak is running down underside of sheathing or rafters and contacts the wall so drips off there), generally roof leaks dripping into the attic tend to show up in the middle of rooms or at interior walls because of house settlement making the center of the house and center of room ceiling drywall (and vapor barrier) a bit lower than the outer edges, so more common to show up as wetness in the center of a room (commonly at light fixture if you have vapor barrier) or at the top of the interior wall.

You say baseboards are dry - the surface will generally be dry - if there is wetness there it would be behind the baseboards - you would have to remove one under the window to see if leaking down the inside drywall.

Could be a leak at the window (especially if around the window frame) leaking into the outer part of the wall, running down in the insulation or on the inside face of the siding, then hitting the bottom plate (bottom horizontal piece of framing in the wall at or a couple inch above floor level) and coming indoors at that level - so behind the drywall, then down the inside of the drywall or vapor barrier to the floor. Peel back the carpet at that area if not glued down (usually impaled on nailer strips - strips of lath nailed to the floor that have lots of carpet tacks sticking up to grab the carpet, so watch your fingers doing it), and you might be able (when raining) to see exactly where the water is coming into the carpet - though that does not tell where the leak is.

Should be easy to find with a thermal infrared camera (rentable at Home Depot or tool rental or some auto parts stores for about $40/half day or $70-90/full day). Many smartphones and tablets have cheap apps (many Apple devices have it as a built-in function) that recalibrate the camera so it sees near infrared - not precise, but shows wet areas good, especially if there is a significant (like nighttime or winter) difference in interior and exterior temperatures, because the wet zone will show colder (blue or green) from the inside, or warmer (red or orange) from outdoors because of the higher heat conductivity of the wet materials in the wall. Obviously, the leak will be at or slightly below the top of the wet zone in the wall (up to a foot or so below due to wicking in the insulation).

The other way to find where the leak is, if nothing obvious on the outside of the window like missing caulk ot trim or peeled back siding - small holes in the drywall that you can stick a finger or mosture probe in. Plant moisture probe requires a contact area, so only works in loose or batt insulation - will work in open cell foam too, but not closed cell. In uninsulated walls a fiber optic scope (rentable at about $20-30/day commonly at same places) works well to see where the wetness is - takes about a 1/2" hole in the wall to get it in.

With both moisture probe and scope, if you use that method, you can check right above the window to see if coming from above, at both sides near but not at the bottom (which would almost certainly indicate4 exterior caulking/flashing failure), and under the window.

You can also commonly find it by running a hose (no nozzle) on the outside of the window, working from bottom up and from side to side - staying in each place a minute or so to give the water time ot come into the wall. You need someone on the inside to tell you when it starts wetting the rug, and of course you are putting more water into the house, so not the ideal way.

If you need a vendor to investigate for you - Handyman can do the brute force methods or rent the tools to investigate (and repair the holes in the wall too) and can do simple repairs. For more sophisticated investigation a Home Inspector or an Energy Auditor with infrared camera to trace the leak source, and for repair of window seals or weather stripping a Handyman might be able to do it if simple, or might take a Window company. (Caps indicate your Search the LIst categories).

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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