Atrium problems…


Wesley Kelley ASHI Master Inspector


I had a sad call today from potential clients in Franklin county.

Five years ago they built a custom, atrium style recreation home. The builder used a product on the atrium windows to ensure moisture would wick away from the home.

They recently discovered the entire atrium side of the home had severe damage from moisture.The special product that had been used to ensure the water would not penetrate into the wooden window frames had not worked.


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They had talked with the builder and the manufacturer the product that was used as a barrier around the atrium windows. One blamed the other. The owners wanted to hire me to give an impartial view. I told them I’d think about it. I did my research and found what I was afraid of. The company who made the barrier product had a laundry list of installation requirements. Requirements included using a different installation technique for every ten degrees change in temperature, the exact number and types of nails depending on certain criteria, specific kinds of flashing and caulk, etc. I had read enough. I called the owners back with the bad news.

In this case, for me to do an inspection I would have to change from ‘observation only’ to opening up and exposing the various areas. But to prove what? If I saw a required ¼” gap which was required if temperatures were between 40 and 50 degrees – would that infer that it was 40-50 degrees on installation 6 years ago? This product by nature expands and contracts with temperature changes and moisture. There seemed to be a million variables and no way for me to prove who was at fault.

I told them if they knew exactly what information would help their cause to call me back. But in my heart I felt they were not going to be able to get anything of value. The builders warranty was only for one year – which is typical. The manufacturers warranty was only valid if precise requirements had been carried out during installation. And with this being 5 years later – that would be really hard to prove either way.

At least I knew enough to save them an inspection fee! They may call back but I doubt it. After 14 years doing home inspections – there isn’t much I haven’t seen. And I’m getting pretty good at predicting the outcome.

Thanks for reading and give me a call if you need anything!

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