Rain: Inspection Boon or Bust?

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We often get calls during rainy weather asking if we should postpone an inspection. It seems to be a common belief that rainy days are a hindrance to inspectors, but is this fact or fiction? Like most things in life the truth is a mixed bag. While showers may cause some obstacles to the process, the scales are far from balanced, weighing in favor of the positives. Let’s go over both sides of this weather phenomenon.

This first negative we will visit is more of a hiccup than an actual obstacle. Inspections in inclement weather tend to take more time to complete as wet surfaces can hide small deficiencies. While a longer inspection time may cause an inconvenience, it really shouldn’t be considered a true negative.

Now let us look at why time becomes a consideration. Small deficiencies like cracks in mortar and brick, sealant missing or failing, decking material condition, and staining on siding, fascia, and flashing. Moisture can make these minor issues harder to detect. While these are trivial issues for the most part, they should still be noted in the report so that they can be attended to.

The last and the biggest actual hindrance is wet roofs that make it dangerous for the inspector to mount and search for defects. For safety’s sake the roof viewing should be limited to the following; a ladder and HD binoculars at the eaves where possible and from the ground with HD binoculars where eaves are inaccessible by ladder.

Now for the good stuff. We love explaining how rain can lead to a better inspection. We’ll start where we left off with the negatives, at the roof. Roofs tend to give up all their secrets in the rain. If there are ongoing leaks, we are going to be able to detect moisture at the roof, insulation, or ceiling areas. Under dry, hot conditions these areas may not have moisture readings, or other evidence that they are active leaks.

Relating to the roofing system and specifically how it drains, let’s talk gutter systems. Precipitation allows us to determine if systems are overflowing due to being undersized, clogged, or improperly sloped to downspouts. We can see if French drain systems are adequately moving water away from the foundation.

Water runoff can be hard to determine during dry weather. Once the landscaping is saturated, we can see if the topography is shedding water away from the home, if the swales are adequate for removing the water, and if yard drains are functioning and capable of removing the excessive water.

During downpours it is much easier to determine if windows and doors are sound and weatherproofed, or need attention. Small leaks in these areas may not show signs in dry conditions. Noting moisture intrusion in these areas early is the best way to avoid costly damage to flooring, walls, and trim.

The last two areas that can be advantageous to review during a deluge are basements and crawlspaces. On one hand any moisture stains present can show moisture readings during storms. The inspector will be more likely to discover where the leaks are entering the premises. On the other hand, if either have standing water or are flooded they can pose a serious safety hazard. Entering these areas is a risk not worth taking as any faulty wiring could lead to death. While these defects may seem overwhelming, they can be used in negotiation. It can stave off a large cost repairs down the road by denoting a massive problem that might not be fully understood otherwise. Any areas not inspected due to safety issues can be revisited once the major issue of flooding is rectified.

Rainy days may not be everyone’s favorite, but they do make for a far better understanding of moisture intrusion issues. So don’t postpone an inspection on account of rain. It could save you from expensive repairs in the long run.

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