What is going on inside this closet? (2 photos)

soozJuly 5, 2011

There is a problem inside the closet of the (legal) garage conversion. The house itself is on a raised foundation with a crawl space underneath, but the garage conversion is on a slab with a slightly raised plywood floor and on top of that is carpet.

Part of the back wall of the closet is falling off. I'm attaching a photo of it and you can see part of it is already off--I'm not sure what's exposed behind the white piece that fell off--flaking concrete? some kind of I dunno what??... and you can see some discolored areas on the lower closet wall area from maybe water?

The birds eye drawing below shows that the front porch steps are on the other side of the wall. The orange area is the part of the wall in question.

The only thing I can think of is that maybe when it rains or when the house to the direct East of me waters their lawn, the run off somehow saturates the ground because this house is lower and water flows to the lowest source? Okay, I pulled that out of my hat because I'm just wildly guessing. I do know that we NEVER have to water our rosemary plants, our orange tree, our camellias or our jade plants in the yard because of the neighbor's unwitting generosity with watering his lawn.

Could anyone please venture a guess as to what is going on with the closet, and how to fix the back of the closet wall so this doesn't happen again?

Thanks for any help, ideas, and suggestions!



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Are the steps concrete?

How are they flashed against the house wall?

It looks like water intrusion from a poorly installed set of exterior steps.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 9:24AM
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While the slab is over un-excavated space it appears that there is a sill plate on the wall in question and the water is most likely coming between it and the foundation wall. Can you post a picture of the exterior?


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 11:20AM
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First, make sure your neighbor is not using your outdoor faucet to water his lawn.

Then reduce the amount of water on the stair side of the wall by whatever means available. Be sure the domestic water service isn't nearby and leaking. Give your neighbor a water saving sprinkler with a timer.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 2:00PM
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Nope, the neighbor is not using the outdoor faucet to water his lawn.

You can see in the photo (below) where the gutters are and the downspout. The driveway slopes downwards so downspout water heads out to the street. The front porch steps are concrete.

The (unseen in the photo) part of the house to the direct left of the front door has the same rock as the front "band of rocks" around the front of the house. The rocks are affixed all the way from top to bottom. I believe they have some kind of concrete along the bottom of the rocks/stop of the concrete steps.

The other side of the wall o'rocks on the front porch is where the closet is.

I guess we should seal the bottom of the wall o'rocks with a waterproof exterior sealer and see if that helps. If so, do you have any brand recommendation?

What's the best way to repair the closet wall ?

Thank you SO MUCH for your help and input!!!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 5:13PM
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I would examine the top of the wall o' rocks. I would suspect there is no flashing/drip edge between the stucco and wall o' rocks. Hard to say from such a distant picture and the trash receptacles in front of the area in question.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 5:50PM
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Thanks, Ian. Here's another photo where you can see the wall o'rock by the front door better--the rock wall in front of the garage conversion looks almost exactly the same as the rock band in front of the windows in this photo. The room on the other side of the "window in the sunlight" has no issues with water at all. (The beautiful lawn is PhotoShopped)

What would you recommending for a DIYer as far as flashing/drip edge? I know nothing except spackle, fix it all, and caulk!!! (lolam)

Thank you again for your help!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 6:03PM
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Im guessing Southern California here and a 1950's ranch. If so, you have the old traditional hard coat stucco and am willing to bet the stone was adhered over that, unless you had the old hardcoat removed and re-stucco'd/stoned, in which case improper flashing details at the joint where the stone meets the stucco is more than likely the culprit. You never want to rely on caulking unless you want to re-caulk annually. The correct way would be to break out the stucco above the stone up about a foot or so, re-flash it properly, and patch the stucco being careful not to disturb the lathing behind it, which is what keeps your wall cavity dry. The lathing could be the problem if it is deteriorated or torn/ripped behind the stucco / stone in that area.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 6:53PM
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Judging from the pictures the lower part of the closet wall is possibly the side of the, what appears to be, cast in place concrete porch. I would suspect that you may have the same condition in other areas of the house to but aren't aware of them because they are only visible in the crawl space(?). It appears your stucco comes right down on top of the stone with no flashing.

The only real DIY part of this project would be removing the sheetrock about a foot above the stone (on the back and right wall of CL) and letting water run down the face of the stucco wall to find out exactly where the water is coming in from.

From the photos it appears that there indeed is no flashing/cap above the wall o' rocks, no seal under the sill and other possibilities are where the railing is secured to the home or even that it only gets in during torrential rains possibly as high as the soffit as that single 3" leader isn't adequate enough for that much gutter.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 7:11PM
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Good call on the house, sierra. Built in 1949 I believe and yes, in So Cal.

Well, sierra and Ian, thanks for your input. I guess I'll be talking with hubby about this new thing on his honey-do list and we'll do what we can and then call in a pro.

Thanks again everyone for your helpful input!


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 7:30PM
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You probably should open up the closet wall and check for rot and mold also.

The problem may have been there a long time and allowed damage to the framing.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 10:06AM
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"It appears your stucco comes right down on top of the stone with no flashing".

I seriously doubt the stone is original to the house and more than likely was installed directly over the old hardcoat, in which case there would be no flashing or penetrative joint for water. If the hard coat was recoated with a new stucco top coat, then it would appear as if that was the original leading down to the stone. On a 50's house, I doubt they removed the original hard coat, just veneered the stone and possibly a new top coat over it. If it were removed and redone, then properly flashed joints where the stoone meets the stucco would apply. I would suspect faulty lathing in which case opening up the wall from the inside might give more clues.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 10:33AM
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Yes but the walls in question are not original to the house either. As for the rest of the house the top of the stone is high than the sill so there is a high probability of a penetrative joint for water.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 12:16PM
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Good point! The wall framing in the original garage door opening. The rest,(original), if the original weep screed at the sills were disturbed, then possible water intrusion issues, otherwise it should be intact.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 4:29PM
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Can I ask a stupid question?

Is that a downspout next to the stairs adjacent to the wall? Are there any problems with that?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 6:48PM
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Poster said they never have to water anything across that area- why? Sounds like neighbor is using huge amounts of water. We haven't had rain for months in most areas of So. Ca., Might have a casual discussion with neighbor about his water bill. A 120x55 lot is allowed 24 units of water for 2 months with rationing in effect in our area. If his bill for water alone is $200-300 he is using way too much unless he has 10 kids or 6 babies!! I have to water beside my garage every 3-4 days to keep my roses going in the narrow bed about a ft wide. It drys out fast & I will be mulching it soon. This sounds like water is sitting below the 1st few inches. take a shovel & dig down between plants & see if it is saturated before tearing up your house! Has he a hose running from his washing machine to his side yard, that is gray water which you can use but it can get too wet & soggy. So see if you can spot a hose laying in same spot pretty much in back yard or see it with water running out, if gray water it will have a dull slightly soapy look. Another thing might be worth going in under the crawl space & digging down a few places if it looks wet, & maybe you have a leaking pipe & don't know it. If your hearing is good you should be able to hear running water. if it isn't go check that every thing is closed as far as faucets go- so no water on & see if meter is still going around. If so you have a leak! If it is soaked only all along your side of house where neighbor lives & you don't have a leak then it's coming from his place.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 2:37AM
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