Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


Male and Female role reversal can really mess things up!


Perhaps the title got you to start reading, but I think to avoid getting kinky real fast, I will let the double entendre end with the title.

This post is about how a simple assembly issue with a downspout on a home has resulted in significant visible water intrusion resulting in water damage in the crawl space.  Of course there is also a good possibility (or should that be bad possibility?) of hidden damage in the house wall structure as well.

The problem is compounded by missing flashings between the top of the brick wall and the trim board that sits on top of the wall.  For a wall to shed water properly, all changes in types of siding and trim should either lap over the surfaces below or counter-flashings should be provided at these transitions.  Under normal rainy conditions the installation “might” perform just fine, but under driving rain conditions or improper assembly of downspout components, these connections may allow water to get behind the brick where damage to untreated wood structures can occur.

So take a good close look at the following picture.

Missing flashings and poor downspout installation

Can you see how the downspout is on the “outside” of the elbow instead of “inside” the elbow (circled in red)?  Because it is on the outside, water can run outside the elbow and onto the brick ledge at the top of the wall and then under the trim board where it can then find its way to the crawl space.  With enough water, the water will even find its way up the gentle slope of the brick.

In this next picture you can see where the area in the crawl space is obviously wet and damaged.  Proper flashings will have to be installed---and of course the downspout connection will need to be repaired.  Someone will have to make a decision as to how to deal with the possibility of hidden damage and whatever repairs that that might entail.

Damage in crawl space

I will leave that decision to the contractor hired to make repairs. Damage could be minimal and will likely be fairly localized---but who really knows until someone starts to take things apart to find out.


Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Comment balloon 10 commentsCharles Buell • December 19 2012 05:44AM



The connections homeowners make are sometimes interesting.  The right connection makes perfect sense, with a downspout slipping inside an elbow to prevent leakage.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) over 6 years ago

Hi Charles,

I bet when you saw this mess up all you could say was "OY" LOL.

Never know what you will find but this is why we inspect the way we do everyday.

Have a great Holiday season in the Great Northwest.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 6 years ago

Man, that installer was asleep, or just lazy. He probably had to work twice as hard to do it that way than to do it right. Might as well not even had gutters or a downspout at all... 

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 6 years ago

Charles, you are such a smarty pants, in a good way!  Love your educational posts...more for my hubby to check on our house LOL!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) over 6 years ago

Buell - You lost me at, "I will let the double entendre end with the title." ;)

Posted by Jason Sardi, Your Agent for Life (Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina) over 6 years ago

Overlap, underlap, inside, outside - all these big words.  I suppose those words can all be applied to male and female - but which role is which?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Charlie, Details, Details. It is a great example of how a little detail can have some potentially major consequences.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Sharon, it sure isn't rocket science :)

Clint, I am not sure I would have seen it if it hadn't been for the water intrusion

Fred, it would have for sure been harder to get on the outside of that elbow

Kristin, I love being a good smarty pants---nobody likes a bad smarty pants :)

Jason, why am I not surprised?

Jay, I think you are past puberty and can easily figure out this one :)

Don, I seem to have a spate of these water intrusion through the cladding issues lately---must be the non-stop rain we are having for weeks now

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

Role reversal, that's what you're talking about, right? :)

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jim, I think so---but now I am all confoozed.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago