As in most humid climates, the Washington, DC area is subject to rather unexpected but severe summer thunderstorms, and this week was no exception. Over the last few days we've had thunder, lightening, and driving rain pop up out of nowhere (well, nowhere if you're not checking the weather anyway). Last night Alex was working late, and I was puttering around the house putting a few last things away from my business trip to Boston.

The wicker storage cubes next to the bed in our guest bedroom are the home to our travel toiletries, including the little shampoos and lotions I've gladly accepted from hotels over the years, along with my travel sized makeup bags. 

When I walked between the bed and the window to return these items to their storage location, I had the unfortunate realization that the wood floor was wet. Thanks to my bare feet, something I may not have noticed in the dim light had it not been made blatantly apparent.

My first thought was that Mel had started peeing on the floor, either in protest of my trip or Lulu's permanent resident status in our home, or that at his ripe old age of 12 was no longer able to hold it. Upon further inspection, I realized the water was dripping in from the top of our bay window, had soaked our throw pillows, saturated the bamboo blinds and rug, and most destructively, had seeped into the heart pine floors.

The floors were so water logged in this area that the poly had actually peeled up from the boards. (As is evident by the lighter areas in the above photo.) I immediately called Alex at work. I'd like to be able to tell you the call went like this:

Wendy: In a calm, even tone...

"Hi Honey. We had a bit of a rain shower here, and I've noticed the slightest bit of moisture near the bay window in our guest bedroom. Do you think you might be home sometime in the next few hours so we can take a look at it together?"

In reality, it was more like this:

Wendy: In a frantic, borderline hysterical tone that may have been verging on tears...

"Where are you?? It is almost nine o'clock! We had a huge storm, and water has poured in through the bay window destroying the original heart pine floors. They're now black with damage, and we have no chance of saving them. Not to mention the curtains, blinds, pillows, and rug are so wet we'll probably need to throw them in the trash. Get home now!!!"

When Alex did return home roughly 20 minutes later, his assessment was a bit different than mine. Yes, it does appear we have a leak, but we think we've been able to pinpoint the location. In the meantime, we've been working to dry out the rug and floor, and have some curtain and pillowcase washing to do. 

So now the $64,000 question: how is the water getting into the top of the bay window? We're going to need to do a little inspection from the outside to hopefully determine the source of the leak, but Alex seems confident we can knock it out. Hopefully this is a sooner rather than later task that we can bump up our priority list. I'd say it's important.

Don't get me wrong, even with the more mild damage assessment I'm not happy about it. Adding this project to our lengthy to do list isn't my idea of fun, and it just means one more thing to fix before we work on the master bathroom. <sigh> Any bets on if we'll finish the bathroom by 2013?

Comments 17


8/2/2012 at 11:51 AM
Ach, Wendy that sucks! Even your frantic conversation is better than what mine would have been...Mike could have expected a few (or more than a few) choice curse words.
LOL! I may have *edited* those choice words out of the replay of the actual conversation. :-)
Yes...You did.
8/2/2012 at 12:31 PM
Nothing, and I mean nothing, is worse than a leak in your house. Worst feeling in the world.
Seriously. Even the smallest leak can cause terrible damage. So frustrating!
8/2/2012 at 12:34 PM
That's terrible, but on the bright side at least you were home and caught it quickly. It could have been much worse if you were away for a few days, especially when the summer storms seem to come every evening.
Very true, Teri. Sadly, based on the damage to the floor, I think it's been happening for a while and I only caught it last night. Better late than later I suppose!
8/2/2012 at 12:43 PM
I had the same exact thing happen to me from that 'pop-up' storm last night. I (believe) we have the same type of roof as you - a metal roll composite. Every once in a blue moon I have to get on the roof and check all of the flashings and roof seams to make sure they haven't contracted from the heat enough to crack and let water through. I think it's the 1, 2 punch of the heat and heavy rain that got us.

It's a big pain, but (hopefully) nothing a little flashing sealant can't fix.
8/2/2012 at 4:15 PM
Ack! That sucks so much.
8/3/2012 at 4:12 PM
Argh that sucks, your poor floor! On the plus side, old flooring has had generations of mud and tears and babies and pets and people and animals and horror all over it, so it tends to be resilient. Hopefully it'll bounce back!

I had a similar fit with my boy thing last weekend when I decided to remove the curtain rail that had been screwed straight into the original plaster coving in my living room (oh landlords, why?). I wiggled it slightly and a huge chunk of the plaster came crashing down. The air was blue that day...
8/4/2012 at 5:15 PM
Ah crud. This just sucks. Unfortunately, as nice as they are, bay windows always seem to be a huge pain in the ass. Hopefully this will be a quick fix.
8/5/2012 at 3:44 PM
What a bummer! I hope it's an easy fix for you.
8/6/2012 at 3:31 PM
Whop whopppppppp. Sounds like my skylight that's at the top-middle of the 3rd floor skylight. Your floors will bounce back.
8/7/2012 at 8:42 AM
Hopefully all it needs is some silicone and maybe a piece of flashing. I've never been a fan of bay, greenhouse, or any other type of window that projects from the wall of the house for this reason. Good thing you caught it before it got any worse and before we get our next two-foot snowfall!

We know what it feels like to have to keep kicking the can down the road with a bathroom renovation. Our goal is now to finish by 2013. There have been too many other "emergency" repairs we've had to make, some of great expense. We keep telling ourselves that we'll get there.
8/7/2012 at 9:25 AM
Are you guys Ok? It's been a little bit since you've posted. I hope you haven't hit the bloggers wall!!!!!!
Thanks for checking on us, Dean. More on our unplanned absence later today. :-)
The Space Between
9/11/2012 at 6:17 PM
Ugh! been there. :(
Since you've not signed in yet, you will need to fill in your name and email below. If you have a Facebook account, save yourself a step and use Connect to login.

Denotes a required field.

Please enter full URL, including http://

You can use Markdown syntax in your comment. And you can also use lots of Emoji!
  • Search

  • Login
  • Follow
  • Advertising

If you're looking for information on advertising and sponsorships, head on over to our sponsorships page. You can purchase site sponsorships in a few easy clicks. 

Toolbox Tuesday
Open Housing
  • We're Featured!

Old Town Home has been featured in the following places and publications:

The Washington Post
Washingtonian Magazine
Old House Journal
Apartment Therapy House Tour
Washington Post Express Feature
Home & Garden Blogs
© 2024 - Privacy Policy
Login Below
Sign in with Facebook

Unexpected Error

Your submission caused an unexpected error. You can try your request again, but if you continue to experience problems, please contact the administrator.