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Community and Q&A

Residential exterior brick wall (3 story townhouse) leaking!

Vicky Michel | Posted in General Questions on

My three story townhouse is a Katrina renovation.  The first floor was appropriately gutted, sprayed and rebuilt. I am having two problems:  the first is a musty odor and leaking water spots at two window sills on the first floor—this same smell existed many years ago when the house was purchased. I have always believed that flashing was not installed around windows when origianlly built. I think the problem has been compounded because I have replaced three windows on the second floor with glass blocks (two bathrooms). The third floor has a new window added on this wall making three total. The house is raised three feet and the first two floors are brick and the third is replaced vinyl siding to the gable roof (all of this is on the long wall side of the townhouse.) Because a house should breathe, I have been hesitant about having a local company clean, caulk, spray primer and paint a sealing type paint over the entire wall—guaranteed for 25 years. Would this be the easiest solution?? Perhaps the front and back wall would be sufficient to allow the house to breathe. Or is it possible to remove brick above the windows and adding flashing instead?? As long as the windows are open the smell is gone.
MY SECOND PROBLEM: my HVAC man has told me that my ductwork coming from the AC unit on the second floor has condensation around the unit (in the closet) and is old and probably should be replaced. The problem is that its encased between the second floor ceiling and the third floor floor. He suggested wrapping insulation and taping the ductwork visible in the closet—but he could not guarantee that this would solve the problem Is there an insulating product that could be sprayed into these tubes to prevent leakage?

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    You have problems that cannot be diagnosed or solved with advice posted on a website. The only way to determine how water is leaking into your wall is by visiting your home and doing some diagnostic investigation. The same can be said about the condensation problem.

    You need to hire an experienced home performance contractor and/or a contractor familiar with water entry problems. Good luck.

  2. Vicky Michel | | #2

    What is a "home performance contractor" and where can I find one??? Thanks so much for your response!

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    A home-performance contractor has studied building science principles and a whole-building approach to heating, cooling, and air leakage issues. To find a home-performance contractor, talk to a local HERS rater, a utility energy-efficiency program rep, or a state energy office employee. You might also get some help by visiting the RESNET website or the BPI website. A local RESNET-certified rater or BPI-certified rater could steer you in the right direction.

  4. Vicky Michel | | #4

    Thank you so much for this valuable info---at least I now know which direction to go to solve my problems!

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