Window Well Leaking From Side – You are here: Home / Building Materials & Techniques / Exterior Materials & Techniques / Details of Window Flashing
Water leakage from faulty windows and door flashing is one of the major problem points in new construction. Damage, often hidden under the siding or in the wall cavities may not appear for several years.
Window Well Leaking From Side
Water damage from leaking windows is hidden behind drywall and carpet. The only clue is peeling paint on the exterior trim.
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Removing the carpet and drywall revealed wet insulation and extensive damage to the wall framing and floor sheathing. Photo by the author.
Exterior leaks may first appear on the outside of the home as peeling paint around or under windows or on the interior as water stains on drywall. But it’s the hidden damage in the sheathing, framing, and insulation that can be the most damaging and expensive to repair. Damage from leaky window flashing has caused several lawsuits by homeowners associations in large developments.
To avoid serious problems down the road, it is very important to install the correct window flashing when the house is built. Because the window flashing must be woven into the housewrap (waterproof barrier), it is very difficult to make corrections once the house is finished.
Caulking under the window flange and Tyvek tape (the wrong product) over the flashing cap is all that protects the window. Properly applied flashing tape will help.
Bottom Of Basement Window Frame Rotted, Water Leaking In To Basement
The result is extensive water damage to the framing and sheathing along the sides and bottom of the window.
Roof overhangs. Not surprisingly, the biggest leak occurs in windows exposed to a lot of rain. This is usually on the side of the house facing the prevailing wind during the rainy season. It is also more common on walls with little or no roof. In a new house, make sure your design has adequate roof overhangs on all sides. This is the first line of defense and will prevent water leaks in windows and doors.
Flange type window. Most new windows have an integral nailing flange, either plastic or metal, that is nailed to the wall to secure the window in place. The flange must be sealed to the surrounding wall and flush with the water shed. Flashing must be properly bonded to the house wrap and siding in order for the system to function properly.
There is still some debate about the best way to flash this type of window, and most window manufacturers publish their own details. Most published details follow the general approach shown below. The details depend on the sealant and the peel-and-stick flashing tape, both of which are attached to plastic wrap, a hard-to-stick material (see illustration).
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Click to enlarge Seal around the window carefully, paying special attention to flashing head and sill pan. Moldable flashing tape is easy to shape into an effective seal pan. For the best protection, add a metal drip cap on top of the window, calked directly to the sheathing.
The key to success with all flashing details is to follow the shingle principle, with the top layer of waterproofing material overlapping the bottom layer, shedding water to the exterior of the building. This will continue to provide protection even if the sealant or tape fails over time as is often the case.
Another key is good work on the job site. In general, it is easier to draw a tricky detail than to build it in the real world – with dirt, rain, time pressure and workers who may not have the best training. The more accurate the details, the greater the chance it will screw up. This is a place that needs additional oversight, inspections, or whatever else is needed to get it right.
According to the principle of shingle, start from the bottom with pan seal (membrane, metal or plastic), install the window, and seal the top, always lapping the flashing layer above the bottom, shingle style. For the sill, flashing moldable, such as Tyvek FlexWrap, is the best choice because it is made to bend the side jambs without stressing the material. Standard flashing tape is usually cut in part and patched at the bottom corners, possible leak points.
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Flashing tape and sealant. While peel-and-stick flashing tape is a very sticky item, it’s not magic and won’t stick to wet or dirty house wrap that’s been exposed to the weather for weeks. It’s best to wipe off the dirt, make sure the wood or housewrap is dry, and press the flashing tape into place with a roller, as recommended by most manufacturers. When caulk is needed, choose a high-quality “sealant” approved by the house wrap manufacturer. Low cost hardware store calc will fail quickly. In the best case, however, you don’t have to rely on tapes and sealants to stay stuck forever. flashing should shed water even if attached failed.
Note: Do not close the horizontal joints above or below the window or flashing. It should be designed to shed water to the bottom layer. Caulking will trap water instead of allowing it to drain.
Flashing window cap. Before sealing up the top of the window, I like to install a traditional metal cap flashing. This helps direct the water out of the window. In this type of installation, seal the flashing cap directly to the sheathing with high quality sealant. Then place the top piece of flashing tape over the flashing lid and layer the house wrap over the tape. If you add wood trim around the window, the flashing stamp goes through the wood trim. Pay attention to the end of the flashing cap and make sure they extend a little past the window molding.
Although the details are described above, if followed exactly, it works quite well most of the time, failures are still common. An expert who saw many of these failures was consulting architect Harrison McCambell, who was called in to diagnose and repair buildings after they failed.
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, the leading technical magazine in residential construction, McCambell attributes most of the problems to a combination of poor workmanship, material limitations (like stretching flashing tape beyond its limits), over-reliance on cassettes and sealants, and details even if diligently followed. Corner patches, often used in the two lower corners, are problem areas. Also, the conflict between the code requirements and the manufacturer’s instructions causes confusion about what exactly needs to be done.
McCambell often works in large residential complexes with 200 or more windows, so he needs to provide construction details that are easy to follow, durable and reliable. His solution, which I will use in my home, eliminates the key weaknesses of the standard approach. The key details of McCambell’s approach (see illustration below) are:
Click to enlarge Better Ways to Flash Flange-Type Windows by Forensic Architect Harrison McCambell. Reprinted with permission from having a basement at home adds much-needed space. Unfortunately, not all houses come with them. But for those who do, the extra space can be used for storage or converted into additional living space, as the owner wishes. But that extra space doesn’t come without some potential problems. Basements can flood and animals can enter it. Proper care should be taken in the basement, just like any other part of the house.
One of the problem areas for basements is windows. Building codes require egress windows to be installed in basements such as fire escapes and especially in bedrooms built into basements. But that window, and the well window that goes with it, can be a place for water to leak into the house, for children to throw toys and stray animals. If there are trees nearby, you can be sure that the leaves will fill the window and need to be cleaned.
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The solution to this potential problem is to install soundproof window coverings. This is an easy and inexpensive fix, for what else could be a source of headaches. The windows also include clear plastic, so they are unobtrusive, attractive and come in a variety of styles, which do not really affect the appearance of your home. However, they are immanently practical.
Before going to the local home improvement store to buy soundproof window coverings, it is a good idea to measure the sound of the windows. There are two main measures of attention, the width of the well window where the contact with the wall, how this will be the widest point and how far out the window as well. If the top of the window is above the top of the well window, measure how high it sticks up well.
Not all window wells are shaped the same either. At one time, they were almost always semi-circular, but this style was replaced by squares and rounded corners. Some square wells out the window
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