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Question DetailsAsked on 5/3/2012

With the bad thunderstorm this week, water leaked from a window frame 1" in front of the top of a window on the first floor (of 3). Cause?

We have not noticed a leak before, lived here 2+ years. The house has fairly new, intact exterior siding all around. The windows are old (85 years) with string? to open and close, but have an intact interior wood frame. The leak was about an inch internal to the entire window but in the wood frame, strong enough to create a small puddle on the floor and leave a drop-size brown stain at the source on the wood. The walls seem to be dry wall and I can see a weakness (about 1 inch indentation into the house) above a neighboring window. Where do we begin with this problem?

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2 Answers


No need to jump to major demolition just yet. Check not only the top of the window and trim but also above it. Water can leak into an upper window or penetration and follow the wall until it settles on the lower window and framing. Then it will come through. Chances are you have a leak upstairs that has made it's way down. It happens all the time and people never think about water which flows to the point of least resistance to escape.

Todd Shell
Todd's Home Services

Answered 8 years ago by Todd's Home Services


If you are at all ladder handy -

1) check the caulk at the tops of the windows on all levels - or depending on the type of window and if it opens, you might be able to tape a hand mirror to a stick and look at the top and sides of the outer frame/brickmold just by leaningout the window, reaching outside with it. Look for peeling or missing caulk around the frame, or rotted or split outer frame.

2) Ditto on looking at underside of roof and the siding above the windows where the leaks are for signs of wetness or staining. If you can get into the attic, then you could thoroughly check for roof leaks - mildew, mold, rot, staining, or wetness or either the sheathing or the insulation.

3) look for any damaged or disconnected siding, or open knot holes if lap or sheet siding. Also, if you have horizontal trim boards at junctions of sheet siding, check caulk on top of that is intact.

4) if you don't find anything there, remove the top piece of trim on the inside of the window, and with a utility knife or keyhole saw carefully cut out the indentation in the drywall in about a 2-3 inch opening, beveling the cut inwards (to smaller size) as you go through, so the piece you cut out can be used with spackle to refill and repair the hole. That should allow you, with a strong light, to see if the water came in across the top of the window frame directly from outside, or (by pushing insulation up and using a small mirror) if it was running down the inside face of the interior drywall, or came down the inside of the exterior sheathing or housewrap or whatever you have under the siding. Also, feel the insulation for wetness - might only be wet on one side, and if it is wet more than about 4 inches above the window then probably means coming down from above somewhere.

Hopefully, this will give you aqn idea where it is coming from. Since you said nothing about mold or water staining on the wall or ceiling drywall, highly unlikely to be a roof leak making it all the way down 3 floors without leaving a stain.

One other possibility - I assume the leak stopped right after the rain, so you are sure it was not just a coincidence that it occured at the same time as the thunderstorm, but might have actually been from a leaking baseboard heating pipe ?

One other very remote possibility - a leak down through (due to driving rain splashing up into roof vent, or a dislodged vent cap) or alongside a vent pipe from bathroom or kitchen fans, that ended up on top of a ceiling and migrated on top of the ceiling drywall to the outer wall, then down inside the wall drywall to the window.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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