Living La Vida Local


“While many leaks are easy to repair, they can be difficult to locate. Water can leak through the surface in one place and finally come into the attic several feet away, then run farther down the rafters before finally causing a stain on the ceiling,” observes Garet Denise or Cornerstone Inspection. “The most common causes of leaks are deteriorated, missing or broken shingles, and improper flashing around penetrations such as plumbing stacks, skylights or chimneys."

A visit to the attic or crawl space below the roof can show early signs of a leaking roof. Indicators include staining or discoloration on framing and the underside of the roof sheathing, and insulation, not to mention crumbling mortar around chimneys. Pay close attention to any penetration areas like plumbing stacks, skylights and chimneys. Also look where the roof surface meets an adjacent wall.

Chimneys should be inspected for loose or deteriorated bricks or mortar. If covered with stucco, look for cracks or loose sections. Chimney caps should be inspected for loose or broken sections, as should the protruding clay chimney liners. Chimney flashings should be inspected for leakage. Efflorescence (a white salt build-up on the chimney) indicates moisture within the chimney and further investigation is required.

Roofing should be inspected for damaged, loose or missing shingles. Special attention should be paid to high wear areas such as areas where there is significant foot traffic or areas where downspouts from upper roofs discharge onto lower roofs. Flashings at dormers, plumbing stacks, valleys, et cetera, should be carefully inspected. Supports for television antennas or satellite dishes should be checked. Electric cables (eave protection) should be well secured and properly powered. Tree branches should be kept cut back to avoid damaging the roof surface. Didja know…insects, especially carpenter ants, use limbs as bridges to enter your home?

Leaves and debris should be cleared off the roof to minimize trapped moisture.

Clean your gutters! Overflow due to build-up of leaves and debris in gutters is the leading cause of rotting trim boards at the edge of the roof. Clogged gutters are mosquito-breeding sites, clearing them of leaves will reduce this risk. Excess water against the foundation wall can weaken the footing and lead to cracks. Avoid these ugly issues. Gutters and downspouts should be checked for blockage, leakage and areas requiring re-securing or re-sloping. Paint deterioration should also be noted. Make sure that downspouts discharge onto splash blocks or pipes that are directed well away from the building to avoid foundation problems. Keep your foundation dry! Bugs love moisture. Keeping the soil dry around the foundation perimeter can force bugs to go elsewhere to snack on a dampened two-by-four.

“What's required to maintain a home will vary from one property to the next. But, generally, roofs need to be kept free of debris,” concludes Dian Hymer, author of "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer's Guide." “Broken tiles, shakes or shingles need to be replaced. Vent pipes and chimneys need to be properly sealed. Drainage systems require periodic upkeep. This starts with the gutters and downspouts, which should be cleaned and flushed…”

If you have stories to tell of early Santa Monica and its property, share them with us. For your real estate needs, e-mail Jodi Summers at or call 310-260-8269.