For many home-shoppers, dormers protruding through the roof of a home are a welcome sight, adding a great deal of character and functionality to the structure. Some styles, such as uniquely wavy “eyebrow dormers,” can make it appear as if the house is actually staring back at you, begging you to become the next owner. Other types, including gable, shed, inset, pedimented, arched-top, and hip styles, offer benefits such as increased square footage, enhanced ventilation, and the addition of natural light into a darker room.
Whether passive types or fully functioning roof elements that actively open up into the home’s living space, a certified inspector, like those at A-Pro Home Inspection, will carefully examine dormers and detail any issues in a home inspection report. Here are a few of the more common problems the inspectors at A-Pro have found after assessing many thousands of dormers over 25 years:
Flashing: Like vent pipes, chimneys, and skylights that jut out of roof, dormers require correctly installed roof-to-wall or roof-to-valley flashing to prevent leaks—the most common and problematic aspect of both passive and active dormers. Unprofessional workmanship; deterioration; missing flashing; and shortened flashing, which helps to channel water into the house instead of away from it, can lead to minor or severe roof leaking. With passive dormers, staining on the ceiling below the dormer will throw up a red flag to a home inspector that there has been roof leakage from above. Your inspector will pay particular attention to possible problems at dormer valleys (a common leakage area) formed by the vertically protruding walls. These should be flashed so water is shed onto the roof rather into the home.
Window Issues: Rotting window trim and poorly installed or absent flashing at the top of window trim are open invitations for harmful water penetration that can cause mold growth and structural damage. The home inspector will also report on window sills with an aging caulk that is no longer useful in sealing the window. Staining around the window and general damage, such as cracked glass, will also be noted.
Dormer Roof Problems: Like the rest of the roof, the materials covering the dormer, such as shingles, can suffer from age-related decay, damage from falling branches or hail, substandard installation, and gnawing critters looking for a warm spot to nest. All of these can lead to leaks.
Other Concerns: An absence or lack of dormer insulation can also facilitate moisture problems by causing snow and ice to melt more rapidly, causing water to pond. Any holes that allow rainfall to leak into the structure will also cause air leakage, which could make the home less energy efficient.
Inspection of a home’s dormers is just one part of an A-Pro foundation-to-roof 500-point inspection. To schedule a home inspection, call 360-489-6100 or visit the link below.