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Plumbing Leakage into Foundation Crawlspace
Plumbing leaks are a common concern for most  buyers and owners because of the costs involved in repairing and replacing defective piping -- but also in repairing or replacing wood components damaged by the leaking water.  Unfortunately, however, plumbing leaks are sometimes difficult to find due to the fact that piping is concealed inside walls, between floors and even under the foundation slab.  As a result, buyers and owners must be on the lookout for visible evidence of leakage -- telltale water stains at walls, ceilings, floors and visible water leaks around plumbing fixtures -- and listen for the sound of leaking.

In some cases the plumbing can also be located in attic spaces (or in the plenum area above a drop ceiling in a commercial building), in which case leakage will show up as stains on the ceilings.  Fortunately, a professional home inspector is equipped with moisture meters that measure the amount of moisture (water) in or behind a surface, as well as other diagnostic equipment to detect plumbing leaks.

The photo shows the results of a simple plumbing leak at a kitchen sink that was detected during a Guardian® pre-purchase home inspection by entering the foundation crawlspace under the house.  As we can see, the photo shows a cast iron drain line in need of replacement.  However, we can also see advanced water damage to the sub flooring and to the floor joists that make up the structural system of the home.

This water damage is typical.  Unfortunately, the water damage has developed a wood destroying fungus (wood rot) that decays the wood at a rapid pace.  Rotted wood becomes a "dinner bell" for  termites and other wood destroying insects that zero in on rotting wood as a source of food or to nest.  The result is an expensive repair due the fact that structural components may been replacement.

We can see a white, powdery  looking residue.  This is called efflorescence, a mineral deposit left over after the water had leached through the wood sheathing.  Oftentimes, this white efflorescence is the only clue a home owner or home buyer is left with to spot an active roof leak.  It is not uncommon for a new roof leak to leave behind the white marking without any dark staining or as evidence.

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The digital photo above was taken by a Guardian® home inspector during a pre-purchase home inspection.

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