Published: June 18, 2000
By Donna Halvorsen; Karen Youso; Jim Buchta; Staff Writers
A Star Tribune special report
No one could tell that David and Renee Saunders’ stately Woodbury home was rotting away – not even its owners – until a cluster of mushrooms sprouted from a wall in the master suite.
The couple faces an estimated $400,000 in repairs to replace mold-infested walls in a house that cost $550,000 to build seven years ago.
“We see [mushrooms] in numerous homes,” said Mike Happ, an investigator for the state building codes and standards division.
The Saunders’ home is a local example of a national problem: Moisture is creeping into houses across the country, causing walls to rot and destroying the house’s basic structure.
“We’re building self-composting houses,” said St. Paul microbiologist McGregor Pearce, who has tested the Saunders house and many others. The houses that have been identified as having problems are merely “the tip of the iceberg,” Pearce said.
Nobody has a good handle on the size of the problem, but it’s big enough that the federal government has launched studies to look at water problems in new homes, including water that comes from the outside.
A critical change in the way houses are built came in response to the energy crisis of the 1970s. Builders began constructing tighter houses to reduce energy costs and make houses more comfortable. Meanwhile, new engineered wood products, typically sheets of wood chips and glue, replaced traditional wood boards for construction. Along the way, one of life’s necessities – water – became a villain.
Three years ago, in a Star Tribune report, building experts expressed concern that moisture generated inside tightly built, inadequately ventilated houses could be trapped, rotting walls and causing health problems. Now they point to a much bigger threat: water that comes into the house from the outside.
Rainwater is a big culprit, leaking into walls around windows, doors, decks and roofs.
Rain always has been a problem for houses, of course. But unlike walls in older homes, walls built today are tighter and tend to hold moisture. Once water gets inside, it meets new, water-sensitive construction materials.
That makes keeping water out more important than ever. But some proven techniques for doing that are no longer used or are used improperly.
“Basically, we’re trying to build with unskilled labor, and we’ve probably lost the connection to the old guys who knew how to keep water out of a building,” said Bill Rose, research architect at the Building Research Council at the University of Illinois. “I think we’re getting a wakeup call to how important it is.”
While no single solution has emerged, building experts say there are techniques that builders can use to direct water out of and away from the house, preventing it from getting into the walls.
Moisture is particularly harmful in homes built or remodeled in the past 20 years. A home’s price, location or type of siding doesn’t exempt it from damage.
Barry Eliason, owner of Stucco Pro, a St. Paul company that tests for water problems in stucco houses, said he hasn’t seen “a single home that is less than 20 years old that doesn’t have a significant area of moisture intrusion.”
By the time a homeowner discovers the hidden damage, repairs can cost half the appraised value of the house.
In many cases the damage is not covered by homeowners’ insurance policies and can surface after warranties have expired, leaving the homeowner to pay the bill or sell the house to an unsuspecting buyer. Damage inside walls is not likely to be detected by a private home inspector; they do visual inspections and can probe into walls only with the owner’s permission.
As homeowners look for answers, the federal government is beginning to look at the issue.
The Forest Products Laboratory in the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been studying water problems in houses for two years, but it may be two more years before conclusions are reached, said project director Anton TenWolde, a research physicist. “I would say 90 percent of the moisture problems” in houses are related to moisture coming in from the outside, he said.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is funding research by the National Association of Home Builders into moisture damage and housing durability in one- and two-year-old houses. Project engineer Bill Freeborne said the agency is concerned that it could be stuck with damaged houses if homeowners default on their mortgages.
That concern became a reality in Vancouver, British Columbia. In the 1990s, some homeowners walked away from their mortgages, leaving lenders with leaking and rotting houses.
The provincial government offered no-interest loans to repair homes, required builders to provide five-year warranties against water intrusion and created a Homeowner Protection Office.
Who’s to blame?
In Minnesota, two builders associations acknowledge that some houses have water intrusion damage and say it’s a problem they’re looking at.
In a prepared statement, the Builders Association of Minnesota and its affiliate, the Builders Association of the Twin Cities, said the number of affected houses is low compared with the number of homes built, and each house must be examined individually to determine the cause of the problem. Houses are affected by many variables, including the weather, homeowner maintenance, and, on occasion, defective building materials or incorrect techniques, they said.
“Our industry is aware of some water-intrusion cases that focus on stucco application, particularly in the window area. These problems may be the result of tightening homes as required by the state code, combined with use of new materials like OSB [oriented-strand board],” they said.
Further, the associations said, a lot of different groups share responsibility for how well homes are built. Government agencies develop codes that give builders standards to follow; builders construct houses to meet the requirements and also provide warranties for those houses; city inspectors inspect houses to make sure they meet code requirements; and consumers must maintain their homes to avoid problems. “Each link is critical, and each may have some culpability when a problem arises,” the associations said.
They also said builders’ liability insurance policies should cover most of the water damage in houses.
The issue is not new to Minnesota building code officials. They started getting sporadic reports of leaking, rotting homes from municipal inspectors more than two years ago. By this spring, the state had received about a hundred reports of water-damaged houses. Most are stucco houses – experts aren’t sure why – but increasingly reports involve other kinds of siding.
Steve Hernick, a state building code administrator, said the state is working with University of Minnesota researchers to gather information and study data on stucco houses from other states before deciding what, if anything, should be done here. “I don’t think we’re going to cry wolf and say there’s a huge problem until we know that for sure,” Hernick said.
The state is not soliciting reports of leaking houses, and no state agency considers it the agency’s job to inform homeowners of the problem.
Woodbury, a rapidly growing suburb, has altered inspection requirements for stucco homes and posted information about water problems on its Web site (http://www.ci.woodbury.mn.us).
“We think we’re getting [houses] built according to code in Woodbury,” said city building official Ron Glubka. “Is that going to work? I just don’t know.”
Tearing out walls
The mushrooms in the Saunders house tipped them off to potential problems in their walls. They hired a contractor who cut holes in the walls and found mold, rot and deteriorating wood.
The Saunders then went looking for help. The builder, Rick Tosten, owner of Reliable Homes in Woodbury, said he wasn’t at fault. In a recent interview Tosten said water damage in houses is a major problem, and he has changed his building practices to reflect what he has learned about it. He said the Saunders home was built “in an era when nobody knew that we were going to develop these [water] problems.”
Tosten said he is helping his customers with problems in their houses but they will have to pay for water damage that is due to their lack of maintenance.
Saunders’ homeowner’s insurance company wouldn’t pay for repairs. A local building inspector sent him to Happ, in the state’s building codes and standards division.
Happ found five code violations, which Saunders said he believes are responsible for the water problems in his house.
The state considers any house with water intrusion problems to be in violation of the code. But Saunders learned that he can’t hold Woodbury accountable for the damage, because building inspectors and the city can’t be sued for failing to detect code violations.
A city can require a builder to fix problems while the house is being built, but once the city issues a certificate of occupancy the code violations are the homeowner’s problem, said Woodbury’s Glubka.
The Saunders filed a lawsuit against Reliable Homes, and a trial is scheduled for December.
“All I want is to be treated fairly and get my house back in order,” David Saunders said. “What I paid for is what I want.”
Awash in repair bills
Sometimes the first hint of leaky walls is flaking paint.
That’s what started to happen a few years after the construction of Markley Square Condominiums, a 15-year-old, 40-unit townhouse complex in south Minneapolis.
“When we’d paint at the end of the summer, paint on entire sections of the walls would be blown off – it would begin to flake and chip immediately,” said Tony Didier, chairman of the homeowners association’s maintenance committee.
Then the wood siding began warping. Water stains surfaced on interior walls. Exterior walls became discolored. Wall studs were so rotted that Jeff Garetz, the construction manager hired last year to repair the damage, could poke his finger through them.
By that time, the complex’s warranties had expired and the homeowners were left with a repair bill of almost $500,000, which also included fixing some drainage problems.
Didier and Garetz said most of the problems were caused by improper flashing (the use of water-shedding materials and techniques), inadequate priming and painting of siding boards and failure to install building paper in some places. Building paper is a water-resistant material that goes under the siding and helps keep the house’s sheathing dry.
Unbeknown to the condominium owners, rain from the roofs splashed against the walls, sneaking behind wood siding and into the wall cavity, where it rotted the wood sheathing and studs.
“Most of our problems were caused by sloppy work, and [there were] some pretty serious design and installation problems, too,” Didier said.
Dale Forsberg, president of Watson-Forsberg Co., St. Louis Park, which built the townhouses, said the complex was constructed according to specifications. “The project was inspected as it was being built, and it was being done properly,” he said.
The homeowners association sued, but the case was dismissed because the 10-year statute of limitations governing “major structural damage” had expired.
Because the association didn’t have the money to make the repairs, Didier appealed to the city and neighborhood organizations, which provided $210,000 to cover some repair costs. The homeowners’ association paid
City Council Member Brian Herron, who helped find subsidies, said consumer protection laws need to be strengthened. “I’ve learned from owning my own home that some things don’t crop up until later . . . Problems like water seepage could go on for years before you realize what has happened.”
`House of horrors’
Because damage can be easily hidden or take years to appear, homebuyers are at risk of purchasing hidden water problems that sellers may or may not know about.
In February, for instance, Paul Arneson’s family fell in love with a four-year-old stucco home in Minnetonka. It looked perfect, but inspector Eliason asked to drill a couple of small holes into the walls to check for moisture. The owners wouldn’t allow it.
But Eliason pulled away insulation in an unfinished area of the basement and found the wood above it saturated. He suspected the entire wall was soaked. Arneson backed out of the deal. It was very emotional, Arneson said, but, “I told my wife, it’s just not worth the headache.”
Jan and Mike Haase of Eden Prairie weren’t as lucky. In 1997 they thought they’d found the ideal home in a 19-year-old house overlooking Olympic Hills Golf Course. But it soon became “a house of horrors,” Mike Haase said.
The Haases’ inspector found no major damage before the purchase. But two months after the family moved into the house, bulges and cracks began to appear in interior walls. They found a painter’s card attached to a paint can in the basement and called him.
In a deposition, the painter said he’d been there nearly 20 times to paint the walls and repair recurring damage. He said he warned the sellers that the house had serious problems that he wasn’t qualified to fix. But he said they told him to “just make it look good.”
Experts hired by the Haases said the front wall was so rotted that the roof was unstable and could collapse. “It’s a gorgeous house, but the builder screwed up big time in the construction of it,” said Tom Lauhon, a home inspector from Kansas who was hired to inspect the house twice.
Lauhon said that the vast majority of problem houses he sees are less than 10 years old and have problems with water coming in from outside.
What’s the common denominator? “Not following installation instructions,” he said. Lauhon said that flashings, sealants, siding and windows need to be installed according to manufacturer’s specifications, or they can leak and the manufacturer’s warranty will be voided.
In the Haase house, much of the damage was caused by water that seeped into the house around poorly installed doors and windows and through a gap behind a brick wall. “It was doomed by design,” Lauhon said. The company that built the house is no longer in business.
The Haases bought the house from its second owner for $307,000. It has since lost more than half its value, said appraiser Craig Harrington.
The couple thought the painter’s statements would be their smoking gun in any court case. But at the time of purchase they signed an agreement that obligated them to resolve disputes through binding arbitration. “That was our first and biggest mistake,” Jan Haase said.
An arbitration panel found that the previous owners had misrepresented the house because they knew of the water problems and failed to disclose them. But the Haases were awarded only $20,000 from the seller and $10,000 from the real estate agency – less than the $40,000 it cost to make their case and a fraction of the $200,000 it would cost to repair the house. They cannot appeal the decision or sue.
“I went to bed and stayed there for almost a week,” Jan Haase said. “It took me a long time to get to the point of accepting the decision.”
The Haases have resolved to dip into their children’s education fund to repair the house. “My kids are going to suffer, and it’s no fault of theirs,” Jan said.
New vs. old
The Haase house was built just as dramatic changes were being made in the way homes are constructed. Instead of drafty, energy-wasting walls, today’s walls are tighter, making homes more comfortable and energy efficient. But they’re also more likely to trap moisture and cause the structure to rot.
Sheets of engineered wood products – typically wood chips and glue – are now used to construct walls. They’re strong, and they make use of remaining forest resources to meet construction demands, but they disintegrate if they get wet repeatedly.
Many such building materials were introduced in the past 20 years. They have little or no track record for how well they work individually, much less with the other components in a house, said Pat Huelman, a University of Minnesota building specialist who trains builders.
He and building scientists across the country bemoaned the lack of research and development in the construction industry. They said there is little scientific research on building materials and practices, making every house an experiment.
The two Minnesota builders’ associations say home construction has become “incredibly more complex in the past few decades” with new codes, technologies and materials, and the industry “does not have the luxury of first building structures and testing them” under conditions that a home will actually face.
However, the state association’s nonprofit Building Industry Foundation is setting up a technical advisory committee to identify areas, such as water intrusion, in which research is needed.
Many experts say windows are a focal point for looking at water intrusion.
No one was concerned about water leaking into walls 30 years ago, said Tom Sinning of Marvin Windows, because walls breathed and dried quickly. Minor omissions in flashing that resulted in some water leakage would not harm the house. But today, it can.
Al Mazig of Win-Dor Tech Inc., a Minneapolis firm that tests window and door installations, said poor window installation is the cause of water damage in many homes he’s inspected. “Flashing isn’t applied properly,” he said.
Statute of limitations
Michael and Sue Oreck’s home illustrates what can happen when flashing isn’t properly installed around windows.
The Orecks noticed high humidity and water leaking into two windows in their new Minnetonka house the day after they moved in five years ago. The builder came out repeatedly, painting and caulking around the windows and trying to find the problem, Michael Oreck said.
By the time the Orecks filed suit in Hennepin County District Court, it was too late. A judge dismissed the case, saying the Orecks hadn’t filed it within two years of discovering their problem, as required by law. In addition, the court found that Harvey Homes never promised to fix the problems.
The Orecks appealed. The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling and the Minnesota Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
The Orecks had to pay $72,500 worth of repair bills and legal fees.
Dick Diamond, the Orecks’ attorney, said he had hoped the courts would use the Oreck case to address the two-year statute of limitations on home construction. It doesn’t make sense that there’s a six-year statute of limitations on defective products such as doors, but only a two-year statute for the house in which they’re installed, he said.
The Orecks also lost for another reason. Mark Covin, lawyer for the builder, said Harvey Homes operates as a construction manager, not as a general contractor, and any problems in the Oreck house were the fault of subcontractors over whom Harvey Homes had no control. The Orecks said Harvey Homes suggested the contractors.
Pat Greene, president of Harvey Homes, said she has been in the construction business for 25 years and has had few problems. She said she knows there is a water leakage problem in some houses. “There’s a lot of theories,” she said. “I think that they’re still in the theory stage. You have to look to the experts and do what you think makes sense. Nobody wants problems.”
While waiting for a legal resolution, the Orecks figured out their water problem with the help of experts. They hired people to tear down the walls, cut back the stucco around the windows outside, flash the windows, replace the insulation and reassemble the walls.
They said they had depended on the building code and Minnetonka inspectors to make sure their house was built right.
“I guess I thought you guys would be our watchdog,” Sue Oreck told two Minnetonka officials who came to her house recently.
But Ron Rankin, the city’s community development director, told her the code is a minimum standard. “It doesn’t mean the contractor’s done a good job,” he said.
The state and Twin Cities builders associations said the building code is based on theories not tested in the field and is interpreted differently from city to city.
The code is also vague in some places.”It says you should keep the water out,” said Hernick of the building codes division. “It doesn’t tell you how to do that.”
The Orecks also faced another barrier that keeps homeowners from getting help: Their homeowners’ insurance didn’t cover this kind of water damage.
Debra Johannson, State Farm section manager, said rot, mold and mildew “are considered to be maintenance problems, things that haven’t been dealt with immediately by the consumer.”
Consumers often can’t count on home warranties, either. Under state law, builders’ liability is one year for materials and workmanship, two years for electrical, plumbing and other systems and 10 years for structural defects.
However, rotting wood supports have not been considered “major structural defects,” said Edina lawyer Todd Iliff.
For a homeowner to be compensated under the 10-year warranty, “basically your house has to be falling down,” he said.
Filing a lawsuit often is a homeowner’s only option. It’s not a cheap choice: Lawyers who represent homeowners in court cases say it costs homeowners $10,000 to $30,000 to take their builders to court.
Jim McDonald, president of McDonald Homes in Inver Grove Heights, said he believes builders should stand behind their houses, but it wouldn’t take many bad houses to put a small builder out of business.
He said his company is systematically going through a list of his houses and fixing problems that are found. “Our clients are delighted that we’re taking care of the problem,” McDonald said. “They’re not crazy about advertising this problem for us, because it is literally a threat to us as a business to stay in business. We’re not going to be able to help any clients if we go bankrupt because of this.”
There is no agreement among experts about what causes the water damage, how to repair it or how to prevent it from happening again.
When a problem is discovered, it causes major upheaval and stress. The family has to move out, store its furniture, remove gypsum wallboard and insulation, replace it and then check for corrosion of the electrical system, the state’s Happ said. The walls are torn down and reconstructed outside and inside. Sometimes the whole house has to be jacked up to replace rotting wood at the foundation.
Building scientists in the United States and Canada claim there’s a simple solution for the problem that seems to perplex so many people. It’s called a drainage plane, and flashing is an important component.
Joe Lstiburek, a Massachusetts forensic engineer, said builders should pay attention to work being done in the four-year-old Building America program, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
“We’re doing a lot of rain control work,” he said. “We’ve figured a lot of things out.”
Lstiburek, a consultant to the program, said every kind of siding and nearly every window will leak, so every house needs ways to deflect the water. That can be as simple as reviving once-common techniques for installing building paper under the siding.
Pierre Gallant, a building engineer from British Columbia, agrees.
“We need to go back to basic construction practices,” he said, citing money as the reason that builders have departed from those practices. “We always try to do more with less,” he said. “To come up with more affordable housing, we went too far.”
Rochester builder Jay Burke has similar concerns. “We’re building houses that if they last 50 years, I’ll be surprised,” he said. “They’re going to virtually rot themselves to death.”
Lstiburek said adding drainage planes can cost as little as $500 per house. He said he has been advocating drainage planes for 10 years, but the idea has not caught on because it’s not required by the building code and builders nationally have lobbied against adding it.
That lapse can be costly for homeowners.
Steve Klossner, a house diagnostician from Lakeland Shores, Minn., said the estimated cost to repair two houses he has diagnosed in Savage and Woodbury is about $200,000 each. “I don’t know of any consumer I’ve dealt with who has the wherewithal to fix the problem,” he said.
Pearce, the microbiologist, said people who are building or buying houses think they’re buying durable, lasting homes. But, he said, “If we look at the generations of homes that have been built in Minnesota, we have to wonder how durable this post-1980 generation of homes is going to be.”
Signs of water problems
If your house has some of these symptoms, you could have a serious water problem:
– Cracked or stained stucco, especially under windows, decks and along the foundation.
– Frequent maintenance of exterior painted surfaces or bulging, uneven siding.
– Unusual odors or musty or moldy smells – especially after rains, when the wind is from a certain direction or an exhaust fan is operating. Check smell near electrical outlets.
– Window leaks. Look for stains in window corners and around the frame after rain.
– Room perimeters are damp or carpets are stained after rain. Look behind woodwork.
– Moisture in the rim-joist area. In unfinished basement areas, pull the insulation away at the rim-joist area (where the basement wall meets the ceiling) and check for moisture, rot and mushrooms.
– Roof has improper flashing (metal pieces) at critical areas: chimney, where the attached garage meets the house, and areas where one roof edge end comes up against a flat wall. If you don’t know what to look for, ask a roofer familiar with proper flashing techniques.
– Water splashing or running down the walls or foundation. Add gutters and downspouts to prevent this.
– Carpenter ants. These large black ants are attracted to wet wood. Seeing them or a pile of sawdust in your home is a warning sign.
How water gets in
1. Water gets behind the stucco or siding and destroys the wood behind it. Symptoms include cracks, discolored stucco and peeling paint on wood siding.
2. Water leaks where slanted roofs meet walls. It spreads down and out in a cone-shape fashion all the way to the sill plate (where the house meets the foundation), rotting everything along the way.
3. Water gets into the wall at the point where the deck meets the house, rotting the area behind and below the deck.
4. Water leaks around windows, wetting the areas below, spreading into a moustache pattern of mold and rot.
Effective water management should be built into every home. It helps keep interior walls dry and free of water damage and rot.
Pieces of metal flashing should be integrated into the shingles at vulnerable areas. Step flashing is installed along the juncture between the roof and the chimney and kick-out flashing where a roof that sheds lots of water meets a wall.
Kick-out flashing diverts water away from the wall.
The connection between the house and the deck must be properly flashed. Flashing to divert water away from the connection between the deck and the house.
Properly flashed window openings help keep water from coming in contact with the window frame and the wall system. Typical entry points for water are at the stile. Water can leak into vertical recesses of the window frame.
Building paper, overlapped shingle style, should be installed over the sheathing and behind the stucco or siding. It helps direct water away from the sheathing.
Walls and windows
Today’s houses are built with a wide array of new products, from high-tech windows to sheets of wood chips and glue. New windows are an example of a technologically advanced product that is superior to old windows but more vulnerable to problems.
No siding is completely weatherproof. Water can get behind any cladding material, including vinyl, wood, stucco and brick.
2. Building paper and housewraps
Many types of building papers and housewraps can be installed between the sheathing and the siding. Building papers, properly applied, keep the walls dry. House wraps, such as Tyvek, deflect wind but do not necessarily block water.
Sheathing is usually oriented strand board (OSB), which is made from chips of wood that are glued together in 4-by-8 foot sheets. In contact with water, the wood chips can swell and the product disintegrates.
4. Caulks and flashing
Caulks are widely used to seal buildings, but building experts say caulking is not a reliable way to keep water from getting into a wall and is not a substitute for flashing. While most caulks are waterproof and flexible, they don’t work well on unstable surfaces such as wood, and they can shrink and require replacement.
Windows are a common way for water to get inside a house.
Water can get in through these places:
1. The window stiles (vertical pieces of the window frame)
2. Around the framing.
3. When water gets into a wall in or near a window, it typically damages the area below the window, which develops a distinctive mustache-shaped pattern of mold and eventually rot. If there’s enough of it the water can pool on the sill plate (the point where the house meets the foundation) and on floors, causing wood framing and flooring to rot.
While clad windows (those wrapped in vinyl or metal) are generally maintenance free, rain can sneak behind the cladding and come in contact with the wood frame and window opening.
Guidelines for home buyers
– Look for obvious signs of water problems. Fresh paint or new gypsum wallboard may indicate problems have been covered up. Ask about it. Also, check around the rim-joist area in the basement.
– Ask the owner if there has ever been a problem with water leaking around windows, decks, etc.
– Don’t depend on owner disclosure to protect you; lawsuits regarding disclosure issues are hard to win and cost thousands of dollars to pursue.
– Hire an inspector familiar with water intrusion. However, inspectors only do visual inspections. They cannot detect problems hidden in walls.
– Hire a firm to test for moisture. That could require drilling into the walls, which sellers may not allow.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Energy Information Center (651-296-5175) can supply a list of house diagnosticians.
Check with the state division of building codes and standards for names of testing firms or check the Yellow Pages under engineers.
A national testing firm has a local franchise, Stucco Pro, (1-651-639-0184 or 1-888-379-7882) that specializes in stucco testing, but can test homes with other siding.
– At the closing, look at the papers that flow past you. Before signing, carefully consider clauses that require you to resolve disputes through binding arbitration. If you sign the agreement, you’ll lose the opportunity to take your case to court.
Tips for consumers building new homes:
– Do extensive research before building begins.
– Read “Builders Guide to Cold Climates,” by Joseph Lstiburek (Taunton Press; You can order the book at http://www.buildingscience.com, or call 1-978-589-5100) or other building publications. The guide includes a good primer on building a house that sheds water.
– Be sure water-management techniques are included in your building contract.
Responding to water problems
In a home less than 10 years old, contact the builder and call the numbers listed below.
In a home older than 10 years, the builder is no longer responsible for fixing problems.
– Local building officials.
– Minnesota Department of Administration, building codes and standards division, investigation unit: 651-205-4709.
– Minnesota Department of Commerce, building contractor division: 651-296-2488 or 1-800-657-3602.
– Consumer complaint line of the Minnesota attorney general’s office: 651-296-3353.
– An attorney. You may need legal advice. It’s best to find an attorney familiar with this problem. Call the Minnesota State Bar Association’s referral service (1-800-292-4152), and ask for an attorney who works in the real property area.
In a 1997 series called “The Trouble With Houses,” the Star Tribune reported on how excessive moisture trapped inside tightly-built houses can rot walls and create health problems. Today’s report focuses on a bigger threat: water that gets into the house from the outside, leaking in around windows or other areas of the house that have not been properly built.
On the Web, go to http://startribune.com/homezone/trouble to learn more about water intrusion problems and share your stories and opinions. You can also read the 1997 series there.