Repairing flashing and sheathing

My apologies if I am intruding where I shouldn’t. I would like some feedback regarding where to go and who to reach out to when one finds issues with their home that needs to be repaired in such a way as to keep their home safe from potential future damage.

We have a supported brick veneer home in the Houston area. After 5-1/2 years in this home (original owners of a spec home that we didn’t have the luxury of watching during the building process) we have discovered an area in a wall where the visqueen flashing and 1/8" sheathing was damaged during a repair done by the builder’s plumber after we had been in the home for about a week. We also found that the mortar droppings blocking weep holes seem to have contributed to water rising in the air cavity above the top of the brick ledge and seeping up under the sill plate to wick up the baseboard.

None of the contractors I have contacted have adequately addressed all issues with reconstructing the interior of the wall when attempting to repair the flashing and the sheathing. I don’t feel confident that we are capable of handling this as a DIY project because of the concern of creating new moisture related problems.

The drain pipe that was repaired years ago extends beyond the back side of the sill plate, creating a “bow” in what remains of the 1/8" sheathing. We have not yet figured out a way to cover the gap (from the inside) where the sheathing is missing and are resigning ourselves to needing to have brick removed in order to have the flashing replaced with a peel and stick membrane, and have the sheathing replaced/repaired in this section.

There are concerns related to this process if it is only done in one section of the wall instead of around the entire perimeter of the house … such as … will the transition from the peel and stick membrane and the visqueen be secure and water tight. Money is an object here when it comes to deciding whether to patch just one section of wall or do the whole house.

Another concern is how does one place sheathing between the exterior of the studs and the insulation, when a drain pipe causes that sheathing to “bow.” Where we have a big hole in the sheathing visible in the lower part of the picture, we have about a 1/2 inch “slit” in the sheathing behind the section of the pipe that moves to the right side of the space as it continues up the wall.

It seems to me that making any kind of change in this wall at this point by someone who isn’t taking the movement of water vapor through the wall into consideration could adversely affect the wall in the future in a way that it hasn’t been impacted at this point. It’s been pretty darned leaky (air … not water) for the last 5-1/2 years and probably saves us from moisture issues even though the insulation in one place has had nothing behind it but air. At least there is nothing there (right now) for water vapor to condense on.

It appears that because of the “bow” the drain pipe will create in any type of weather resistant barrier, there will never be a way to properly seal this wall. As open as it is now, there is no evidence of mold or rot, so barring hurricane rains, the wall doesn’t seem to have suffered up to this point. Our creating a weep hole in an unblocked area of the brick veneer should resolve the problem of water accumulating to the point of rising over the brick ledge and seeping under the sill plate.

Am I overthinking this issue, as my dear husband says I am, or is it reasonable to think that we need someone who will really, really think their way through this repair? If so … what type of individual would that be? I haven’t found him/her yet.

Or … is this a situation of learning to live with something that might only happen in a blue moon and leaving well enough alone?

It appears that you have several issues that require attention as well as others that are not as clearly visible. If that wall in your picture is a load bearing wall, which it might be, then it is also potentially missing proper sill plate anchors at/near the edge of the break by that plumbing waste pipe. There may be other issues associated not clearly visible in these pictures.

At this point you are much better served by speaking with a Texas Licensed Professional Engineer who is well versed on residential construction. I would also look for a PE who performs consulting for construction litigation to save you additional PE fees at a later date.

I would say to call Russell Strahan who is a licensed PE, licensed Texas Real Estate Inspector and also performs consulting during litigation. You can find his contact information at Russell is located in Houston and can help you better at this point. If he is unable to work with you then he can quite possibly refer you to a licensed PE in your area.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

Thank you for the referral … but … Darn! This is sounding scarey when all I thought we were addressing were flashing, sheathing and sloppiness issues. :sad:

I have always assumed that all exterior walls were load bearing. What am I misunderstanding here? I am finding that I am having to learn a lot more about the construction process than I ever really wanted to know.

If there is a possibility of structural defects, what chance does a homeowner in Texas have in dealing with the builder or the 10 Year Warranty Program. The thought of something being wrong that warrants litigation is tying my stomach up in knots.

What other kinds of things should I be losing sleep over at night that might not be clearly visible in these pictures?

Hi Dawn,

Not all exterior walls are necessarily load bearing walls. Here is a good description of the situation Being in Houston (or most of Texas) you are quite possibly a hip roof design. That would make them bearing, for the most part. But there are even times when that may not be entirely true. As a rule, as can be seen, we expect or treat all exterior walls as load bearing just to be safe.

The issues you are experiencing can possibly entail other issues as well. Latent damages are unknown. The post was not meant to scare you but instead help save some money. A licensed PE can be your best bet as the PE will look beyond what a contractor might. Also, if you are going to call a PE save some money. Use a PE that is also involved in litigation cases so you are not paying multiple PE’s if it comes to it.

Thank you for the additional detail. I did try “Googling” to try to determine what was and was not a load bearing wall. This is what the exterior of the wall looks like. Is it partially load bearing and partially not?

The plumbing repair is located between the window and the corner of the house on the right side of the pic (underneath the small second story bathroom window kind of hidden by a tree.)

Hi Dawn,

With your roof construction I would expect it to be a load bearing wall. Again though, there are many items that should be checked in person to obtain a good idea of what all of the issues and potential issues might be. As you stated above, none of the contractors are adequately addressing all issues. My own personal opinion is for you to give Russell Strahan a call. A good engineer can review all aspects and make appropriate suggestions for further review and potentially for repairs.

Don’t worry about litigation at this point as it may never come to that. But if you do call in the third party Inspector make it a licensed Professional Engineer and, as stated previously, one who does deal in construction litigation. No matter which PE you call in they are no doubt going to cost more than a licensed Professional Real Estate Inspector. Save your money and call the PE first.

As for the warranty issue you would need to review your warranty documentation to ascertain what is covered. At that point, and after speaking with the PE, you can proceed with your approach to the issue.

Don’t lose sleep over it now, or in the future as it just is not worth working yourself up over. Speak to the PE first and they can help you in more ways than you may think.