Steven L. Smith, Bellingham, WA Home Inspector (King of the House)


Bellingham Home Inspection (King of the House): Evidence of Leaks

 A home inspector needs to, consciously, look at upper wall and ceiling areas. Sometimes it seems like an inspector is so busy running around looking at things that are eye level and below, that one might forget to look up above. Ceilings are a primary place to find signs of past water damage. This is usually related to roof leaks or, sometimes, water from an upstairs bathroom or even a burst pipe. Water damage should be suspected, and looked for, especially if the roof has problems. I pay particular attention under flat and low-sloped roofs. One thing to remember is that, usually, just because a ceiling area (that is suspect) is dry that does not mean the problem is resolved. Especially in dry months, a roof leak might be dry because there is no rain or maybe a spot under the shower is dry because they have not used the shower lately. To avoid that kind of misinterpretation, an inspector tries to run showers, baths, sinks, toilets and then look under them at the ceiling. If the problem is the roof, sometimes there is not much one can do. Obviously the inspector is not going to get out the hose, in the dry season, and try to create a leak. Photos of a couple ceiling areas, under a leaky roof, are below. The problems are more obvious than is usually the case.



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Bellingham WA home inspector

Steven L. Smith

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Comment balloon 8 commentsSteven L. Smith • January 01 2008 07:35PM


Steven, when I take a buyer through a home, I make it my top priority to look UP while my buyers are inspecting the oohs and ahhs of the home. It's easy to get carried away with all the pretty parts, and bypass the real problems.
Posted by Teresa Cox King, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama (RE/MAX of Orange Beach) over 12 years ago


That is a great thing to do on your part. Good work.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 12 years ago
I always make sure to look in corners and under window sills to make sure I don't see anything strange. I always point it out to my buyers.   Thanks for the info!
Posted by LaNita Cates (REMAX of Joliet) over 12 years ago

I do the same thing, Teresa.  I also check under sinks and shine a light in crawlspaces when previewing a home.  Carry a cheap plug-in grounding checker for the outlets too.

 Steven--is there a different wavelength of light like ultraviolet (that doesn't cost an arm & a leg) that can spot evidence of leaks that you might want to be inspected further?  Here in Tucson, we don't get a lot of rain obviously, so being able to see faint residue or stains would be a benefit.

Posted by Kent Simpson, Real Estate Is About People (Realty One Group Mountain Desert) over 12 years ago
Steve, it is interesting what a huge percentage of what we do revolves around "water."  Keeping water where it belongs, preventing it from getting were it shouldn't be, and noting all of the problems it has created because of its being where it doesn't belong or isn't where it is supposed to be:) And then there is the rot, wood destroying organisms, mold etc associated with these conditions.
Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 12 years ago


Inspectors usually just use a good bright flashlight. Sometimes we try to angle light, or shine it, to highlight defects. I have a UV light, for detecting mainly pet odors, although I bought it for rentals I own, not really for inspecting. UV will make stains showup but it can be way harder to identify what you are really looking at than you might think. All sorts of, shall we say, fluids have different colors. The police evidence people have those down better than most of us need, or want, to.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 12 years ago


Thanks for keeping us updated on the important aspects of inspection.  And thank you for the nice things you said about me on the associates page.

Live good. Be happy.


Posted by Mimi Osterdahl, NW Living, "Do good work for good people." (eXp Realty) over 12 years ago

I have always heard good things about you Mimi, so I am happy to share those comments with others. When people do a good job, others need to know about it. Say hi to Barb D for me.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 12 years ago