Leaks around windows
We added a two story addition to our house in 1996. Included was a new master bedroom on the second floor. It has side by side double hung windows capped by a large half round window. We have regular leaks which seem to be coming in around the frame of the half round, although I suppose it's possible it could be coming in through the roof; I have no indications of that, tho, like water marks in the ceiling nearby. the water seems to follow the half round frame, and at the point where the half round meets the top of the double hung, the water either goes down the frame, down the wall, and then into the carpet, or goes across the top of the double hung frame and then drips down. During the last rainstorm, we taped a plastic sheet to the window and ran it into a bucket; it collected probably 2 quarts of water. (During regular rains, we usually just get the leak down the wall; the big leak usually comes during major rains.) On the outside, we have aluminum siding. The half round is trimmed out with wood on the outside and this is caulked to the siding. First of all, I can't get anybody to even return a call on getting this fixed (it's higher than any of my ladders reach). Second, is it possible it's "just" a caulking problem or is it more likely that there's a fault in the installation that will require some major work? Sorry for the length of this; any clues would be appreciated.
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No limit on the length of questions!! Actually the more you write the better idea we can get of the problem.
Someone will have to fix this from outside. So you or someone will need a ladder that high. My guess is, the window is not flashed correctly. It seems like a lot of water for this sort of problem, but it maybe considering this is the only place water is coming in.
Can you get in the attic space above the room/window? If you can, you could be sure it isn't the roof or flashing around something on the roof that is leaking. Water will often run down a rafter and it could be just making its way to the wall and then down the wall till it hits the window.
So, consider that... what is the roof like above the window and that room. Is there any flashing around a chimney or a valley near there?
Ok.. if it is the window, above the window and going up under the siding should be some flashing. The rain that runs down the siding should not be able to collect on top of the window and flow in.
I am re-reading your question and thinking... does the window leak EVERY rain, even if the rain is not blowing against the glass? Or does is always leak more when the rain is blowing against that side of the house. If the leak is worse when the rain is hitting that side of the house.. then ok. maybe it is the window. If it always seems to leak in proportion to the rain.. not the direction... maybe it is the roof... Know what I mean?
When you find where the leak is coming from, you can fix it. It will be a matter of cauking perhaps, but more likely of fixing some of the flashing or adding flashing where some should be to keep the water from running in anywhere.
Does the siding need to breathe? and if I caulk, would the caulk disrupt airflow behind the siding?
There is more than one window on the back of the house and there are other places for air to flow in. Water is dripping down the J channel of my window and going back behind the siding (where the siding is not flush against the J channel at the bottom of the window). Is there anything else I can do besides apply caulk down the entire J channel and eliminate any gaps between the J channel and the siding? if you think extra flashing is necessary, can you describe how I can do this myself and what materials I will need?
You can/should caulk between the J channel and the window if there is any gap there.
If there is water getting behind the siding as it runs down the channel, try some flashing just under the end of the channel bent up over the siding just under it. If that doesn't seem possible, run a bead of caulk right down the channel between the siding's end and the channel. One thing I have considered..... check the channel above the window. It should extend beyond the channels on the side so that water is not directed between the window and the J channel on the side.
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