More Leaking Windows

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Old 04-26-07, 10:25 AM
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More Leaking Windows

Did a search of the archives and see this is definitely a common problem but I would appreciate any help in regards to my particular situation. I am an experienced DIYer who pretty much is willing to tackle anything.

Background: I purchased this house in the Denver Area in October of 2006. The house was built in 2000 and I believe I am the third owner, so not sure if any warranties would apply. On Tuesday, Denver had a pretty intense spring storm which dropped 3 inches of rain while blowing sideways the whole time. We have had rain events before in which I did not notice any leaking but the wind and the rain combined were not a good thing. I spent the entire day collecting water in cups after having to leave work. I would classify the leaks as severe. It became obvious after this occurred that a prior owner had had a similar issue as their were repair signs in these areas.

http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=5316032

This image shows the windows in relation to the house. The bay windows did not leak it is the ones on the left side of the house. The windows which were leaking were both Main (second) floor slider windows and picture windows and the right slider window on the upper floor. Water was coming through the top of the frames and at the seam between the picture/slider combos.

Here is a close up of the slider/picture window combo.
http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=5316033

Here is a close up of the upper slider window.
http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=5316034

This bottom right basement window also had some water coming through the top frame. http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=5316035

A close up of the seam between the slider/picture combo windows.
http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=5316036

The theme from reading through other posts regarding leaking windows was that it is generally coming from above. This would lead me to believe that this is the likely culprit. http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=5316037

My general plan of attack was going to be:
1. Inspect the caulk around perimeter of windows
2. If need be pull the casing/trim from around the suspect windows to determine if their is anything obviously wrong with their install.
3. Attempt to remove old caulk (any suggestions?) and then caulk the hell out it and wait for the next sideways storm.

My questions from people who have done this before is what would be the preferred method for getting to the third story. Is a 36 foot ladder good enough or would you recommend I rent some sort of lift? Is their anything obvious to do like simply adding drip edge? What about putting a gutter on the roof system over the bay window so it doesn't dump water right over those windows. Would you pull off all the trim to figure out what is going on?
DO I need to pull back any of the siding? While it is obvious that this has occurred to lesser extents before should I be concerned about permanent damage. Denver has a really dry climate so I am not too worried about mold.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read my lengthy post and any advice on how to proceed would be appreciated.

Brent
 
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  #2  
Old 04-26-07, 01:46 PM
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2 things concern me.

First, it appears that the exterior trim has simply been installed on top of the siding. This is a bad practice. Trim nails penetrate the siding, causing potential leaks. Caulking the interior edge of the window trim basically traps water on top of the window. Sealing the top of the trim with caulk is not a good method of flashing.

I don't mean to scare you, but if it was my house, or I was contracted to repair such a house, I'd tear all that trim off, plus some siding and start over. What it comes down to is bad practices. It's not likely that the nailing flanges of the windows are sealed in any way. Water that gets behind the siding probably comes right in the top of the windows, indicating that they are not installed and flashed properly. The only way to fix that is to remove exterior trim and siding.

Second, on picture 4 of 6, there is a roof line ending right above the windows. This is a problem area if it has not been properly detailed. The shingles should have step flashings all along the siding, which you should be able to see between the siding and the shingles. The bottom row should have a kick out flashing to direct water past the face of the siding. I doubt it's there. The siding appears to be cut pretty tight to the roof, but it's hard to tell. Water could be running right in the end of the siding there. I'm guessing it is just caulked, which is bad. Why people think that caulking equals "flashing" I will never know.

I guess one other concern is that the face trim around the windows seems to be almost flush with the face of the window, which makes it practically impossible to caulk. Uncaulked face trim where the side and bottom meet the window could be letting a lot of water in. If the outside edge of the face trim is caulked, again, that's trapping water. It would almost have been better to use thicker face trim which would give you a thicker "ledge" around the vinyl window that could be caulked better. The way it looks now, the trim is almost flush with the face of the window. If the trim had been installed on top of the sheathing (like it normally is... not on top of the siding) then the window would stick out past the trim slightly, which would be even better. Then the perimeter of the trim could be caulked to the window without any problems. Your windows have weep holes on the bottom that might pose a problem when you try to caulk around them. The weep holes must remain clear. But they could also cause a leak behind your trim.

I'm scared for what you might find under the siding. There might not even be any building paper. Another bad practice. Your best bet will be to use pump jacks, which attach to long poles. The pump jacks will have a scaffold that lays across them. This isn't something you would want to do off a ladder. Renting a motorized lift (like a long forklift that has a 6-man scaffold cage on an extendable arm) is an option, but for a homeowner, it's an expensive option.
 
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Old 04-27-07, 08:51 AM
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Sleeper,

Thanks for the great feedback. It looks like I definitely need to pull trim and peel some siding to determine methods of construction.

"The only way to fix that is to remove exterior trim and siding."

When you say this do you mean just in the vicinity of the window or do you mean remove all the siding? If you mean in the vicinity of the window, any tips for the best way way to handle this? I have put in a window and slider before but it was part of blowing a hole in the side of my house for access to a second story deck I built. I have not tried to repair or replace an existing window.

"Second, on picture 4 of 6, there is a roof line ending right above the windows. This is a problem area if it has not been properly detailed. The shingles should have step flashings all along the siding, which you should be able to see between the siding and the shingles. The bottom row should have a kick out flashing to direct water past the face of the siding. I doubt it's there."

If the flashing does not exist, which would be my guess, can it be installed without tearing off the existing shingles. I think this area is probably my biggest problem area so if need be I'll tear the shingles off and do it right.

"The way it looks now, the trim is almost flush with the face of the window. If the trim had been installed on top of the sheathing (like it normally is... not on top of the siding) then the window would stick out past the trim slightly, which would be even better."

The trim definitely sits on top of the siding. If I am going to tear the trim off anyway then what you are saying is that I should put it back on the sheathing and have the siding butt up against the trim?

"I'm scared for what you might find under the siding. There might not even be any building paper. Another bad practice."

Not sure as I have yet to pop off any siding. If there is not building paper, how do you propose that I properly flash the window. My understanding is the paper should overlap a drip edge. I do not see any form of drip edge currently. When I expose the window install I will post some more photos so I do it as close to right as a retrofit can be.

Thanks for the pump jacks idea, I will look into borrowing or renting these.

Again thanks for your help. It's not that I am intimidated by the project just pissed off that: A. The issues weren't disclosed when they were obviously known and B. That builders always cut corners.
 
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Old 04-27-07, 12:48 PM
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The first thing I would do is remove the trim. By examining the perimeter of the window, where the siding meets the window, you may be able to determine that you just need some fresh caulking around the window. It *may not* be necessary to cut around the window at all. For instance, if you install that kickout flashing, that may be where a lot of that water was coming from.

But if you determine that you need to remove some siding to investigate further, you should first figure out what you are going to replace the trim with. (for instance Azek brickmould is 2" wide)

If using brickmould, I would scribe a line 2" away from the window edge. Then using a small cordless skilsaw, I would cut 1/2" deep (or however thick your siding is) so as to practically cut through the siding, but not far enough to cut into the building paper- you don't want to create another leak.

This will remove just enough siding so that you can expose the nailing fin of the windows, which should be about 1 3/8" wide. You should also be able to see if the house has building paper over the sheathing. And you will be able to see what type of sheathing the house has- foam, plywood or a combination. (many houses have plywood on corners for strength, but foam on other less critical areas.)

You should also be able to see water damage that will indicate where the problem is coming from- for instance, you may see evidence of water running down the surface of the building paper and then behind the top nailing fin. OR... you may find that water was just getting trapped behind the trim. It's hard to say until you tear it apart and look. I would only be guessing if I continued suggesting places to look.

Once you determine where the leak is coming from, you may need to remove more siding to repair it. For instance, you might need to remove the siding above each window in order to properly fold up the building paper, tape a membrane over the nailing fin and directly to the sheathing, then fold the building paper back down, apply the trim (yes, directly to the sheathing), apply a drip cap, fold the building paper down and skip tape the building paper to the drip cap.

The only problem with applying the trim directly to the sheathing is that if the trim is 3 1/2" wide, and you cut your siding 3 1/2" away from the window, your siding will not have a stud to nail to on the ends where it meets the trim. You "should" have a double stud on each side of each window. So if you would use 2" brickmould, you would "theoretically" have 1 1/2" to nail the siding to a stud. So that's the reason I suggested 2" brickmould earlier. It will change the look of the house slightly, but I think you'll get used to it. Azek is a cellular PVC product which is pretty pricy, but it does not rot, and it cuts and nails like wood. Takes paint too. You'd nail the siding along the edge of the trim, then caulk the siding to the trim once you're done making sawdust.

If you don't have building paper, all you can do is use a peel and stick membrane, and apply it over your window nailing flanges, taping them directly to the sheathing. Building paper should be added when the siding is all torn off (the next time the house is resided).

Regarding the kick out flashing, you should be able to do it without tearing off shingles (you will have to clip one shingle at an angle to insert the kick out flashing, then tuck it under any existing flashing so as to shed water.) But you may have to remove some siding. Hard to say without seeing it.

Kickout flashing, made from 5x7 metal step shingles:

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/thexsleeper/detail?.dir=af9d&.dnm=ffe5.jpg
http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/thexsleeper/detail?.dir=af9d&.dnm=f044.jpg

Vinyl windows themselves don't necessarily need a drip edge, since the nailing fin keeps water out when properly flashed. However, it's always a good idea to install a drip edge over the TRIM that is installed around the window.

Pump jacks will be attached poles no longer than 30 ft tall. They can be attached to the house or the roof: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/scaffolding/supported/pumpjack.html

I understand your dismay on both counts. I'm also disappointed when I have to go back and fix other people's sloppy work. It makes you wish they would have done a better job in the first place.

The peel and stick membrane that you will want is sold in most big box stores. There are many different brands: Tyvek straightflash, Grace Vycor Plus, Protecto-wrap, MFM window wrap, Tamko flash-n-wrap, etc.

All of these products stick well to most paper and plastic forms of building paper and both wood and foam sheathing. However they are not compatable with plain #15 felt (tar paper).
 
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Old 04-27-07, 01:53 PM
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XSleeper,

Again thanks for all the info. Found some pump Jacks, now I just need to make sure it will give me enough height for a working platform. I am going to start with flashing the bay window roof so that if it decides to rain like that again at least the majority of the water will be directed elsewhere. Then I will start pulling trim to assess the window install. I think at a minimum I will be putting drip edge on the existing trim.

One last question on the flashing. Do I need to get this tucked under the siding? If so can it just be slipped under or do I need to adhere it to the sheathing with roofing adhesive?

Thanks for your help. I'll post some pics when I expose the window install methods.
 
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Old 04-27-07, 02:54 PM
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Not sure which flashing you are asking about-

To install a drip cap properly, you would want to tuck the back flange under the siding as well as under the building paper.

As for the top edge of the kick out flashing, it should also go under the siding and building paper, although a lot of the time you see them installed right on top of the building paper, which is not the best method. Your siding should be approximately 1 1/2" above the shingles all along that roof, so you should be able to tuck it under the siding. The very end of that flashing will get bent out and around the siding so that water does not run behind the siding at that point. I wouldn't use roofing cement against your siding since the siding will need paint in the future, I'd use something more paintable. Sealing behind it with urethane / polyurethane / or butyl caulking would be a good idea.

Looking forward to seeing those pics and hearing what you find! Hopefully it will be something easy to fix. That would be good news.
 
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Old 05-04-07, 07:39 AM
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Just an update: I have obtained a set of pump jacks but am still trying to borrow a 30+ ladder so that I can secure the guide poles to the house. I will update my progress as I am sure I will have more questions.
 
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