Need a good reliable evaluation of my windows

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kellsbells
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:40 pm
Location: Philadelphia PA

Need a good reliable evaluation of my windows

#1 Post by kellsbells » Sat Jul 20, 2019 4:28 pm

Greetings Pros! Long time! I'm not sure if this is the right forum, but I couldn't find one for window sob stories. I don't need window advice this time, but I have a problem that has me very distraught that may or may not be partially related to my windows.

Six years ago I had a problem with signs of moisture appearing on the side and back exterior walls of my master bedroom and bathroom and the back bedroom. I immediately suspected the roof and had it checked. The roofer said no problem up there. I had a couple of general contractors come in. No idea if it's not the roof. The problem was all throughout both walls (back and side of house) but was most pronounced under all the windows. I was at my wits end because no one could figure out where it was coming from. You would not believe what my rooms looked like. I had to do something so I just started throwing money at it hoping I would hit on the problem and it would be fixed. I had all my windows caulked and had my entire house pointed to the tune of almost $4000. It kept getting worse. Finally I tried another roofer. This one says it IS the roof! I got a new (flat, rubber) roof to the tune of another almost $4000. Problem solved!

Five years before this I had cellulose insulation blown-in the walls, I thought the main complication was that when water got in from the roof it was being soaked up by the cellulose and not drying out. The walls were so bad that they could not be repaired. Since they had to come down anyway I had the insulation removed and did not replace it. The house never had insulation in the first place so I figured leave well enough alone, just throw on extra blankets. If I ever have a roof leak in these rooms again at least there is nothing to soak it up and hold it in. All told I spent over $10K, which wiped out my entire savings and emergency fund. But that's ok, because problem solved, right?

NOT! Two years later it started happening again, now with no insulation in the walls, so apparently my insulation theory was bird-brained. I nipped it in the bud and immediately had the roof patched and all my windows caulked again. Then I had the problem areas sanded, spackled, and the walls repainted. Long story short, that was not the end of it. It has been reoccurring for the past six years and I've been having the roof patched and the windows caulked and the walls repaired over and over and over, each time fooling myself into thinking it's done.

It happened again in March but I let it go for a little because I planned to start getting my house ready to sell during April/May so I could have it on the market by June 1st. So once I got working on that I had the roof patched and the windows caulked again. I asked the handyman this time to please remove all the old caulk and put all new caulk. I trusted he did but can't say for sure. I didn't see any pieces of dirty old caulk around on my lawn or anything. Once that was done I had the walls repaired AGAIN and repainted AGAIN. About two weeks after that we had a very heavy rain. Do I need to tell you?

This time I can see that it is going to get to the severity of the first time. I can see it happening. It is growing, and spreading, and appearing in other rooms now. It is on the side of the house, not on the back this time…yet, but is on the front. (I live in a twin raised rancher BTW, so only 3 sides exposed.) Some of the walls are drywall with no insulation (the ones that were replaced). The other walls are plaster with the cellulose still in them. No, no type of vapor barrier anywhere. There is no plumbing in or even near some of the areas and even if there was I don't think it would travel upwards to some of the places it appears. I also did a meter test for 12 hours to rule a plumbing leak out. I tried a dehumidifier in the room where it's the worst. It did not pull in any water. The moisture was at 43% at the time so I really didn't think it would but everyone told me I had to give it a try. The moisture level in the house is usually between 40%-50% and I currently have the AC going 24/7 so it should be pulling out any excess there may be. Also FYI I don't use the shower in the master bath. It is so small I use it for a closet. Whatever helpful suggestions you can make, been there, done that. In desperation, I scoured the internet looking for some kind of building expert who could figure out where the water is coming from. I found a company not too far away that sounded hopeful, but it turns out they only specialize in plumbing problems. Then finally I landed on a "Building Diagnostic Specialist" in Delaware. I was so happy I cried. This is exactly what I need! His $800 "diagnosis" was exactly what I diagnosed myself 6 years ago for free…..it "might be" this and it "might be" that. Add another $800 to the growing tally of trying unsuccessfully to fix this. I am near $13000 now and counting.

This has put my whole life on hold, as my plans to downsize and move closer to my new work location and finally replace my 20 year old car are shattered. I am stuck in a house that not only doesn't work for me anymore, but has become a money pit. I need the source of the water infiltration to be definitively pinpointed and repaired once and for all, but I don't know how to make that happen and no one seems to be able to help.

Considering that half of the windows are Thermo Guard windows that were installed about 20 years ago by contractor unknown, and the other half are Schuco windows from Delaware Mike maybe about 10 years ago, I find it very hard believe that they all failed at the exact same time. What are the chances, right? On the other hand the problem is always the worst under the windows. At the very least I need to rule this out.

I have yet another roofer coming on Monday, now I need to find a really good window guy a.s.a.p. I was going to ask Delaware Mike but saw that he has no contact information so I figured he is no longer on the board, or maybe still on the board but no longer actively does windows?? Does anyone service Philadelphia, or do any of you know of a really good window contractor in this area that I can trust? I really need someone who lives and breathes windows and everything about them, someone who has not only the technical knowledge but also honesty and integrity and I can have confidence in. I feel I would be more likely to find that person through the pros than I am on Angie's List.

I always feel like when you ask people for help they might think you are looking for a handout, so please know that is not the case. I just need to find the right person the first time so I don't have to try another and then another ad infinitum like with the roofers. All I do is keep throwing good money after bad. I just can't keep doing that. Can you please help me out or at least point me in the right direction? You have no idea how much I would appreciate it, seriously!

I apologize for the long winded story, but I figured like everyone else who has heard my sob story, you will want to make suggestions, and I wanted you to know everything I have tried already. And, well I guess actually I'm always too long winded anyway. :roll:

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Windows on Washington
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Re: Need a good reliable evaluation of my windows

#2 Post by Windows on Washington » Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:41 am

1. Lets get some pictures of the inside and the outside.
2. Where is the home located?
3. When are the "leaks" showing up?
4. How is the home heated and cooled?

kellsbells
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:40 pm
Location: Philadelphia PA

Re: Need a good reliable evaluation of my windows

#3 Post by kellsbells » Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:32 pm

I am in NE Philly. The house has central air and heat. The moisture shows up primarily after a heavy rain and grows and spreads with subsequent rain.

The front of the house is stone, plaster walls with blown-in cellulose insulation, no vapor barrier. I have the problem there.
The side and back of the house is brick and block. In some rooms drywall with no insulation, no vapor barrier. I have the problem there. In one room plaster with cellulose, no vapor barrier. I have the problem there. One room on the side is drywall on top of plaster, cellulose, no vapor barrier, also this room has crown molding. This is the only room with exterior walls where I have never seen the problem, but I figure that is because it has an extra layer that it has to come through and the crown molding could be hiding something behind it.

I tried to attach some pics when I posted but it just said "not downloaded" for the longest time so I just deleted them as it didn't seem to be happening. I tried it twice. I will try again to figure it out. I have a million of them. Is there a limit to how many or what size? I looked for that info but couldn't find it.

kellsbells
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:40 pm
Location: Philadelphia PA

Re: Need a good reliable evaluation of my windows

#4 Post by kellsbells » Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:17 pm

Ok, so after much trial and tribulation I think I have some pictures here. It says you can add 3 at a time, but when I add a third one I don't get a "Place Inline" button, only a "Delete File" button so I'm doing whatever it will let me do. These show what I see in the master bathroom (brick and block, drywall, no insulation, and remember I don't use the shower at all).
20190720_102218MBth.jpg
Master Bathroom 1
(94.34 KiB) Not downloaded yet
20190720_102130MBth.jpg
Master Bathroom 2
(103.96 KiB) Not downloaded yet

kellsbells
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:40 pm
Location: Philadelphia PA

Re: Need a good reliable evaluation of my windows

#5 Post by kellsbells » Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:34 pm

Master bedroom (brick and block, drywall, no insulation).
20190720_103201MBR.jpg
(88.53 KiB) Not downloaded yet
20190720_102457MBR.jpg
(102.94 KiB) Not downloaded yet

kellsbells
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:40 pm
Location: Philadelphia PA

Re: Need a good reliable evaluation of my windows

#6 Post by kellsbells » Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:40 pm

Living room (stone, plaster, cellulose insulation). I tried to attach the grossest pic that I have but the file was too large. :?
20190720_103412LR.jpg
(102.08 KiB) Not downloaded yet
20190720_103354LR.jpg
(95.53 KiB) Not downloaded yet
20190720_103307LR.jpg
(129.91 KiB) Not downloaded yet

kellsbells
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:40 pm
Location: Philadelphia PA

Re: Need a good reliable evaluation of my windows

#7 Post by kellsbells » Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:49 pm

I don't have any pictures of the outside of the house other than this old one.

Oh jeez I don't even have that. The file is too large. I will try to take some tomorrow if it isn't raining.

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Windows on Washington
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Re: Need a good reliable evaluation of my windows

#8 Post by Windows on Washington » Tue Jul 23, 2019 5:47 am

Snap those exterior pics and we will see what you see. Tough to tell anything from those picture of the interior walls so far.

Ricknez
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Re: Need a good reliable evaluation of my windows

#9 Post by Ricknez » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:11 am

Im betting its NOT a window issue. Maybe call a roofer or look inside your walls. Highly Doubt its your windows.
This isnt a job for a window contractor. You may want to go to a different message board that focus’ on insulation and moisture.

kellsbells
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Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:40 pm
Location: Philadelphia PA

Re: Need a good reliable evaluation of my windows

#10 Post by kellsbells » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:09 pm

Insulation has been ruled out. The walls were down the first time this happened and there was nothing to tell. It is narrowed down to roof, pointing, and windows, or a combination thereof. As I said I would like at the very least to rule the windows out. It is always starts directly under the windows and is the very worst directly under the windows. Always. Even if the other two turn out to be the culprits, after being haunted with this for 6 years I will never be comfortable that it's not coming back if I don't positively rule the windows out, and for that I need an ACE window guy. Not Joe Shmoe from Angie's List who will say oh yeah it's your windows and I can replace them with the best windows in town for only this much!

WoW, not sure what you will be able to tell but I will take outside pics when I get home tonight, hoping the files won't be too large to upload.

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HomeSealed
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Re: Need a good reliable evaluation of my windows

#11 Post by HomeSealed » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:09 pm

If you were having the issues in the colder months, I'd say that some sort of condensation related cause is likely. Given that it happens in warmer weather and during/after rain, its probably safe to eliminate that cause, or at least as the primary issue. Given that, all of the details about insulation, wall board, vapor barrier, etc become pretty irrelevant. Based on your info, you have a simple water leak (or multiple). What's not so simple as you've found out, is finding the cause. I always recommend starting at the top and working down, unless there is some recent event that would say otherwise (ie: the leak started right after the windows were replaced or something like that). Most of us are pretty well versed in siding and roofing as well, if you get a chance to post some exterior pics including the roof, siding, windows, etc, those would be helpful. The closeups of the wall damage don't offer much to go on.

kellsbells
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:40 pm
Location: Philadelphia PA

Re: Need a good reliable evaluation of my windows

#12 Post by kellsbells » Tue Jul 23, 2019 9:34 pm

I don't have any pics of the roof. Had a roofer up there yesterday and said there's definitely some problems with things that weren't done properly. (I knew the outfit that did the roof 6 yrs ago was a bad choice, that's why I never call them even though the roof has a 15 year warranty.) After he looked through my rooms he said he thinks the roof could be a contributing factor but no way it's responsible for everything he saw. He thinks I have more than one issue going on. He thinks I should find the other issues before they fix the roof. That's what he said anyway.

Got plenty of shots of the outside tonight. I'm not sure what you're looking for but I'll upload as many as it will allow me to.
Ok, so far 4 shots of the stone front of the house were all too large so no pics of the stone front.
Just tried 4 shots of the brick porch/kitchen and all files too large so no pics of that either.
8 shots of the brick middle BR/master BR/master bath on the side of the house...same story.
Now 3 shots of the brick back wall......batting 1000.

Are you kidding me? We're talking pictures of bricks! Just as a control I took a picture of my thumb and the file was too large. So unfortunately I can't give you pictures of the outside of my house...or my thumb. I guess the pics of the wall damage uploaded last night because there was no real detail to them.

I don't know what you could tell from pictures anyway when plenty of people who have seen it in person are stymied, including one "building diagnostic specialist" imported from Delaware. I really was just hoping you could help me out with a good reliable reference if you might have had one. I will try my luck with Angie and figure something out or just hang some kind of wall covering all over the place. Maybe I can bring "soft walls" back in vogue. I do very much appreciate your interest and willingness to help. I think you guys are awesome to do this and I always tell people to go on the board and educate themselves before they even think about replacing their windows. It's amazing (and sad) how many people think they're good windows if they're double pane. Yeah, good luck with that. :roll:

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