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MidgeTenant 01-22-2012 10:34 AM

Leak through masonry: how tough to repair?
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I'm hoping for some advice on how to deal with a leak in the garage.

In heavy rain, water drips from ceiling joists in the garage interior onto the garage floor. These joists are directly below the junction of the exterior stairs with the front door of the house. The exterior stairs are built on brick, as shown in the photographs.

When I stand on the exterior stairs above the leak, I don't see any areas where water can be leaking in ... and yet the water is leaking in somewhere!

Does anyone have any advice on how to approach this problem?

Two more related questions:

(*) I'm worried that a problem of this type might be a recipe for getting bad results from a contractor. He can't see where the water is getting in, but is supposed to fix it anyway.

Am I correct to be worried about that, or are leaks like this usually more easily tracked and repaired than I might think?

(*) (And I apologize if this one is a little off-topic for this forum) This leak doesn't affect life in the house. The water drips on the garage floor and goes harmlessly out the garage door. No 'living time' is spent in the garage. I might let the leak continue if I weren't worried about water getting onto inside-the-house joists.

Am I correct to be concerned about the water running down the joists, or is this a less serious issue than I might think it is?

Thanks in advance for any responses!

mudmixer 01-22-2012 11:02 AM

You are judging everything based on where you see the water and that is usually not where the real leak into the structure occurs.

The normal procedure to investigate a leak is to look at any opening (door, window) because almost 2/3 of all openings are installed improperly. After that, you look above and to adjacent changes in the structure. Water can enter and run horizontally to weak point or where there is a lack a primary moisture barrier behind the exterior surface or of where there is improper or inadequate flashing.

Without seeing much of the home I would suspect the door installation combined with the type of stucco installation common in your area.


joecaption 01-22-2012 11:24 AM

Very poor design to have built it that way, from what I can see in that picture it makes no since to have built out the foundtaion like that. It's a sure way to have leaks all around it. The siding should have been finished then the stairs go in. Looks like the stucco was run around the stairs that was already there.
Look at the right hand side of the door at the threshold. It looks rotted.
Reason being it's a cheaply made door for one thing, there's no sill pan under it to stop water from getting in on the outside edges. I'd also bet there's not even any form of flashing under it.
If it was mine I would remove that door and install a fiberglass door, vinyl jambs, adjustable threshold, flash the bottom of the opening and install a jamb sill pan, then reinstall the door. It would never leak again.
You only think this is not doing any harm. It's going to rot out the floor joist, rim joist, foundation plate, and cause black mold or fungus to form if this allowed to go on.

MidgeTenant 01-22-2012 07:38 PM

Mudmixer and Joecaption, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

There was a small puddle on the floor just inside the door, which I should have mentioned in the first post. So it makes sense that the leak might be there.

If you have other thoughts to share, or if anyone else would like to chip in, I hope you'll feel free. I need to start contacting contractors.

nealtw 01-22-2012 10:25 PM

It looks to me that you have water 4" above the level of the top step so I agree with the others. The door and frame is where I would be looking.

joecaption 01-24-2012 09:41 AM

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