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Old 02-06-2019, 01:13 AM   #1
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Rain Leaking Through Deck


We recently discovered a moist patch on the drywall ceiling of our 1st floor (initially visible as a brown stain). A hole formed and the recent rain in SoCal caused water to leak through. Although I have not removed a large section of the ceiling to get a really good look, I have used a borescope camera and believe the leak is coming in from the deck (the ledger board of which is right next to where the water is coming in).

Specifically, it looks like the rain is accumulating on the deck board nearest the house (rain drips down onto it from the flashing just above it) and then weeps in through the small gap between the deck board and what I've indicated as the red "wooden board" in my basic diagram below. I presume that once water gets in here, it drips down behind the ledger board and somehow makes its way past the plywood sheathing and then into the framing of the house.

The small gap was originally filled with caulk, but I did not see any obvious holes. Regardless, I removed all of the old caulk and re-caulked, but the leak continued. In one of my photos, I've shown the gap just after removing the old caulk. The deck boards are coated in a sort of rubberized, thick deck coating with some anti-slip material and you can see in the same photo that I've removed some of it because it's been bubbling up due to the water sitting there. I wonder if the water just absorbs into that coating and slips under the caulk. When I cover the deck board with plastic sheeting (from just under the flashing to the second or third deck board), I get no leak.

There is no flashing on the ledger board. In fact, I cannot even see the ledger board or the ends of the joists where they meet the ledger - it looks like it's all coated in stucco, presumably to hide the brackets/fasteners and to blend in with the rest of the siding?

I'm wondering what I should do here. Presumably I should be removing that red "wooden board" in order to see how much rot there is underneath it. I'm guessing it is screwed into the sheathing? Could I then install some flashing on top of the ledger that would direct water out underneath the deck?

Many thanks!





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Old 02-06-2019, 01:45 AM   #2
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Re: Rain Leaking Through Deck


It might be worse than expected. You don't have a ledger, the joists are the ends of the floor joists inside. There was a lot of that being built in the 70s. The joists may or may not be treated.
All you can do now is remove that one wall board and one deck board and start assessing the damage and develop a plan from there.
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Old 02-06-2019, 11:42 AM   #3
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Re: Rain Leaking Through Deck


[QUOTE=Nealtw;5761693]You don't have a ledger, the joists are the ends of the floor joists inside./QUOTE]

Very interesting - thanks! I'm curious - how can you tell that from the pics? Is it just because there are no joist hangers visible?

I believe the deck was installed when the 2nd floor was added to the home in the mid-80s, so it makes sense that they could have put longer joists in to include the deck.

So with this arrangement, the "rim joist" on the inside of the sheathing is a series of short joists that go in between the floor/deck joists?

Thanks!
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Old 02-06-2019, 12:00 PM   #4
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Re: Rain Leaking Through Deck


[quote=Ferrino;5761969]
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Originally Posted by Nealtw View Post
You don't have a ledger, the joists are the ends of the floor joists inside./QUOTE]

Very interesting - thanks! I'm curious - how can you tell that from the pics?



So with this arrangement, the "rim joist" on the inside of the sheathing is a series of short joists that go in between the floor/deck joists?

Thanks!
No posts to hold it up, and yes solid blocking between the joists.
If you poke at the joists with a screw driver you may find them real soft like the might be full if rot. And you may want to support it from below before you do to much just in case???
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:39 PM   #5
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Re: Rain Leaking Through Deck


Thank you! I've had a good look at the joists (from underneath the deck, where they meet the wall) and there does appear to be any sign of softness/weakness - they seem solid.

I have not had a chance to remove the wall board (marked in red) yet, but I was wondering - is it possible that the flashing at the bottom of the stucco has failed, and rain is sliding down behind the red board through the flashing (and not through the gap between the bottom of the red board and the first deck board)?
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Old 02-13-2019, 07:28 PM   #6
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Re: Rain Leaking Through Deck


Water is a funny thing, and it looks to me like you have alot of missing caulk. Depending on if this is a new problem (and it sounds like it is), you may just be able to get a wire brush and spend a little time cleaning the area between the first board and the "red board" and filling it in with some good exterior caulk.

If you garden hose between the boards can you recreate the leak?

Don't get me wrong, water is scary because of the damage it can do, but if it is new, keeping it simple sometimes works as well.
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Old 02-13-2019, 07:42 PM   #7
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Re: Rain Leaking Through Deck


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Originally Posted by Ca443 View Post
Water is a funny thing, and it looks to me like you have alot of missing caulk. Depending on if this is a new problem (and it sounds like it is), you may just be able to get a wire brush and spend a little time cleaning the area between the first board and the "red board" and filling it in with some good exterior caulk.

If you garden hose between the boards can you recreate the leak?

Don't get me wrong, water is scary because of the damage it can do, but if it is new, keeping it simple sometimes works as well.
Sorry, the missing caulk in the photo is from when I removed it all, and then completely re-caulked with an exterior product. It did not make a difference - I still get a leak. Which is why I'm now wondering if the leak is coming from higher up - i.e. where the flashing is, at the bottom of the stucco siding.

I have not done the garden hose test, but that seems like a good next plan.

I have no sense for how long the leak has been there - this is only our second winter in the house and there was very little rain last season. This has been a very wet season.

I really appreciate all the suggestions!
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Old 02-13-2019, 07:48 PM   #8
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Re: Rain Leaking Through Deck


OK, why I said water is a funny thing....It could be coming in somewhere totally different, dripping on to the beam and then run the length of the beam until it hits a low spot and starts to drip. Hopefully if you can recreate with the garden hose, you can start to narrow down where to look.
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Old 02-15-2019, 07:46 PM   #9
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Re: Rain Leaking Through Deck


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OK, why I said water is a funny thing....It could be coming in somewhere totally different, dripping on to the beam and then run the length of the beam until it hits a low spot and starts to drip. Hopefully if you can recreate with the garden hose, you can start to narrow down where to look.
We just had a deluge and I did a bit more testing. I used plastic sheets to cover 2 areas:

1) The seam between the red board and the first deck board (which I just completely re-caulked).
2) Most of the stucco above the flashing in that area (to remove failed flashing as a possible source).

In both cases, I still got leakage. So I'm trying to figure out where to look next. Is it really possible for water to creep along the top of the joists in significant amounts?

We do get a lot of water accumulating on the top of the deck, because there are no gutters on our roof. Water just falls directly off the shingles at the edge of the eaves, striking approximately the 2nd or 3rd deck board from the wall.
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Old 02-15-2019, 08:28 PM   #10
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Re: Rain Leaking Through Deck


Water is crazy when trying to trace it. It could be coming from the top of the joist or the bottom of the joist. Think of it when you are in the shower and water is hitting your shoulder...if you put your arm out you can get the water to flow down your arm and drip off your fingers...lift your arm and it will start to drip off your elbow. I have seen drips on a ceiling and found out the water traveled 15-20 feet on a joist and then found a low point to drip.

Most of the time, the only way to find it is to start ripping out drywall. You can get an infrared camera to try and trace it out, or just seal everything you can on the outside and hope you find it.
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Old 02-16-2019, 05:52 PM   #11
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Re: Rain Leaking Through Deck


OK, I found the issue - the water is entering the joists through the gap between the deck boards - thank you to Nealtw for the suggestion of rotting joists. I could not see this rot at all when looking from the underside of the deck. But when I was on the deck and looking directly down at the top of the joist through the gap, I could see a cavity. I then poked away from the side at these gap positions and sure enough, the joist which lines up with where the water enters the house has a lot of rot along the top. I assume the water just saturates the core of the joist and migrates inside... Other joists are affected, but not as badly as this one. I've included some pics below.

My guess is that this deck needs to be removed: it is from the mid-80s and who knows how many other joists are leaking (I only discovered this one due to a brown stain on the 1st floor ceiling).

I'd love to get some advice on what our options are here. Budget-permitting, we'd love to retain a deck, so I guess the joists could be trimmed back and then a traditional ledger+posts deck put in its place? I appreciate that our options will depend on how deep the damage runs.

Thanks again!




Last edited by Ferrino; 02-16-2019 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 02-21-2019, 01:24 PM   #12
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Re: Rain Leaking Through Deck


OK, I had a company out and they are proposing to demo the old cantilevered balcony and then cut the existing joists back 1.5" behind the stucco. Then install a waterproof barrier, patch the stucco and install a "Juliet railing" that would cover the existing sliding door. Does this way of patching the trimmed joists sound OK? What would go in between the trimmed-back ends of the joists (right now there is blocking between joists)? Presumably new blocking, but on the inside?

They did propose replacing the deck with a larger waterproof deck (using ledger & posts), but we don't really want to spend that much right now and wouldn't have time to enjoy it.

Thanks so much!
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Old 02-21-2019, 02:34 PM   #13
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Re: Rain Leaking Through Deck


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Originally Posted by Ferrino View Post
OK, I had a company out and they are proposing to demo the old cantilevered balcony and then cut the existing joists back 1.5" behind the stucco. Then install a waterproof barrier, patch the stucco and install a "Juliet railing" that would cover the existing sliding door. Does this way of patching the trimmed joists sound OK? What would go in between the trimmed-back ends of the joists (right now there is blocking between joists)? Presumably new blocking, but on the inside?

They did propose replacing the deck with a larger waterproof deck (using ledger & posts), but we don't really want to spend that much right now and wouldn't have time to enjoy it.

Thanks so much!
The fear is that they will find soft joist running into the house that should be dealt with. If the joist are good they could put new blocks in or go back a little further and put a length in. It is important that you still have 1 1'2 inches of good joists sitting on the wall. If not they will need to get into the ceiling and what ever the repair is there should be decided by a structural engineer. Engineers don't come cheap and just adding new full length joists would be the way to go.
The may find problems with the top of the lower wall.
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