Water, Water, Everywhere!

Water on the roof.

Water can create damage to a home from everywhere, not the least of which is a leaky roof. But how about chimneys where the mortar has turned almost to dust? And old windows where you can poke your finger through the outside wood frame? Sound familiar? It’s a very common problem on the 100+ year old homes in Capitol Hill.  And if not corrected, creates wet and sleepless nights for homeowners, major expenses to repair both exterior and interior damage and mold and mildew.

Water needs to drain and often will find its way into the home from:

  • the ceiling of a leaky roof, the gaps in old windows, 
  • down the sides of a damaged chimney,
  • clogged gutters causing water to flow out the back of the gutter and down the wall into the house,  or even
  • through a  rusty metal box that holds air conditioning hoses for the compressor on the roof.

A qualified professional needs to be aware of all these potential water sources into a home and evaluate them properly.   

Several real life examples are appropriate here. Consider the case of an elderly couple on A Street, S.E. They suspected that they had a roof leak because of the yellow stains on the top floor ceiling in their bedroom. Yet they felt it was more an aggravation than a real problem because the stains had not changed much over a few months. They were early risers, usually up well before 7:00 am. One morning while having their morning tea and toast, they heard a noise from upstairs. The wife made her way to the top floor and, to her surprise, maybe horror is a better word, she discovered a huge chunk of ceiling laying on their bed and the wood floor. This was a time when she and her husband were very happy about their early rising habit!

Then was the couple on Constitution Ave. N.E who were puzzled by the peeling, puffy paint on the ceiling of their kitchen on the first floor. There was no problem of staining or water damage on the top floor so they were really confused.  Remember the metal box for the AC hoses mentioned above? Upon very detailed inspection by a roofing professional it was discovered that water had worked it’s way down into the box and all the way down to the first floor ceiling. Not a common problem but one that does occur.

In the case of a Hill homeowner with multiple rental properties, he had a lot of water-related problems. One of his properties is a newer building (circa 1970) on 7th St., S.E., near the Eastern Market. The building has a flat concrete cap at the top of the front brick façade. The cap had never been covered in metal or any other protective materials. Water was getting into the ceiling of one of the bedrooms but the source of the water had not been identified. Then, there was the problem with the windows. Inspection revealed rotten wood that had been painted over to conceal the problem. Several areas around the windows were so deteriorated that water was getting in, dripping down the wall damaging the floor and the ceiling down below.

These are all real life examples of problems caused when your house is not properly waterproofed. The solutions in the above examples included roof repair and replacement, chimney tuck-pointing or re-pointing, new “Hill approved” windows and metal wall caps over concrete.

Tom Daniel is owner and general manager of R. Thomas Daniel Roofing, a third-generation family business that has been doing business in Capitol Hill for over 90 years. Tom lives on the Hill. The firm is the recommended roofer of Capitol Hill Village. Tom can be reached at 202-569-1080 or tom@rthomasdanielroofing.com or visit the website, www.rthomasdanielroofing.com.


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