Do you have a leaky home?

It can be hard coming to terms with a leaky home issue. Learn things to look out for when you discover a small leak in your home.

house built with a flat roof on the coast
ARTICLE Ken McGunnigle

If the type of dwelling is a low risk form of construction such as single storey, brick veneer on a cavity with wide eaves, then it is likely that the external envelope is adequately managing the external weather conditions – a leak would be isolated and it should be easy to find the cause of a specific leak.
But if your home is the type that has no eaves with direct fixed monolithic cladding (monolithic cladding means fibre cement sheet or stucco plaster) on untreated timber framing there is a high risk of widespread moisture ingress from the external weather conditions with consequent damage to the timber frame. In this situation there is no easy way to find out if the leak is confined to a specific architectural feature.
It’s important to focus on establishing the cause of the leak rather than just measuring the extent of water ingress and /or resultant damage. Capacity meter readings of the cladding provide a general indication of the apparent moisture content of the outer face. Thermographic imaging shows the external temperature of the cladding and it is assumed that lower temperatures mean moisture is present. Both of these techniques, however, offer little understanding of the cause of moisture ingress and resultant damage.
Probing through the external cladding into the timber frame and taking resistance moisture meter readings provides reliable knowledge of the moisture reading of the timber frame but it leaves small holes, which damage the face of the cladding. It does not provide an unequivocal understanding of the cause of the leak.
The only method that is likely to provide clarity in respect of linking cause to effect is carrying out limited removal of the external cladding, undressing the parts, and taking direct moisture meter readings and samples of the timber frame to find out if there is decay and the level of preservative treatment. Absolute certainty about the full extent of the damage and the cause of the leak can only be gained when the cladding is being removed completely.
All claddings will leak to a certain extent. The problem with our housing construction is whether the cladding and other building elements are durable and keep the inside dry. The overall construction of the house including site exposure, workmanship, quality of design detailing and durability of the materials influence the performance of the cladding system.

You might be interested in reading: Renovate for better health.

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This expert advice by Ken McGunnigle featured on page 40 of Issue 007 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.


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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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