After multiple late season tornadoes tore through several local neighborhoods coming up on one month ago, I have been able to inspect and report on several of them in order to document the damage for their insurance claims.
In the midst of the constant shaking of my head in amazement at the power displayed by this event, I have also managed to find some really interesting “defects”. I use quotes because they are not issues one would readily find without a storm ripping sections of the house away and exposing them. I thought I would share just a few because they are probably more common than we realize behind the finishes which limit us. These homes are all less than ten years old.
After a section of a roof hit the second floor exterior bedroom wall, all that was left was a piece of sheathing and the wall outlet. Following the path of the wiring up the wall was mold growth. It appears to have been caused by moist interior air leakage into the wall at the outlet which was drawn up towards the attic due to the stack affect in the home. Air sealing is the solution at the outlet, outlet box openings and the bored hole for the wiring at the top plate in the attic, all of which are often overlooked or ignored.
Once the wall was blown away from this house, a section of brick veneer was left with its back face exposed. The mortar work was sloppy and compressed against the house wrap up and down the wall. In this situation water will wick through the mortar over time and saturate the sheathing causing a host of problems. Unfortunately, this is probably the way modern brickwork turns out more often than not. A 1" airgap is required but that space is usually encroached upon by mortar and the laborers think nothing of it. “There’s housewrap installed” may be the justification, but they forget that housewrap is not moisture-proof.
3 & 4. This one is a rare gem when you can find it installed correctly. Staining is visible down the wall below the base of what used to be the connection between a lower roof and the house. No kickout or diverter flashing had been installed and water was coming in periodically. Many houses get lucky and have minor moisture intrusion, this is one of them. But conditions change and poorly constructed flashing details like this have great potential for damage.
Lastly, a photo from the bedroom of my 70+ year old client who huddled in her central half bath with her dog during the tornado. She had no basement to go to, just a crawl. Two 2x4s came through the outer wall, the closet bi-fold doors and penetrated the floor down into the crawlspace at the foot of her bed. One went straight through, the other was stuck. No defect here, just one of hundreds of similar impact occurrences which leave me amazed, grateful and scared all at the same time.