I thought we were living in our own little private (cold) hell this morning: water inside at NW Hoyt running down the kitchen wall and marking the ceiling. Turns out we weren’t (keep reading). The water eventually traveled to the basement as well. What’s going on? We figured on three options: 1) a broken pipe 2) a frozen condensate line to the furnace 3) something to do with the frozen downspouts/rain gutters. Any of the three appeared possible. The first was eliminated when we figured that there are no pipes that high in the structure. The second was x-ed out as a possibility after figuring out that the condensate line runs from the attic furnace down an interior wall. The third option was not clear as the culprit until after I had spent two hours on a ladder with a heat gun thawing the whole mess out.
What we discovered is that the rain gutters have frozen solid creating a ridge on the roof line (like every one in Portland in all likelihood). I poured boiling water mixed with de-icer down the downspout and a frozen plug of ice was ejected. We think the ridge pushed any additional moisture towards the house where it found a point of entry through the 100+ year old siding. The problem probably never would have been revealed without a storm like this and it was hidden behind previously installed rain gutters (I tore the gutter off until the underlying issue can be fixed). We cleared all the snow and ice off the roof around it.
I came home, had a hot shower and when I went outside our neigbhor was on his upper level deck pushing snow off it. Turns out he has water inside as well. One look down the side of the house and it is clear that he is suffering from the same problem: brown icicles stemming from random points in the siding. We identified another point where there was no inside issue so hopefully that was caught in time.
It takes a storm like this to bring to light issues that we might never have seen otherwise.