• Action 9: Hurricanes and risky roof vents

    By: Todd Ulrich

    Updated:

    Lots of new homebuyers face another hurricane season with roof vents that they say can't keep windblown rain out. They bought new houses and then could not believe the water damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

    Action 9 consumer investigator Todd Ulrich uncovered installation and design nightmares that put these homes at risk.

    Charles Hollowell grabbed buckets when Hurricane Irma drenched ceilings inside his just-built home in St. Cloud.

    Action 9 found dozens of new homebuyers, who bought homes from five different builders, claiming wind-driven rain poured through off ridge roof vents.

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    “It was scary. We saw the water coming in and we didn't know if the roof was going to collapse," said Eva Roman, who bought her new home in Kissimmee 10 months before the storm.

    Roman thought her new home warranty covered repairs but the builder rejected her claim.

    After his warranty claim failed, Hollowell hired an engineer who found ridge vent problems. The vent openings were not evenly cut and some were far bigger than others.  

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    Action 9 found 20 new homeowners in Melbourne who claim the same builder didn't install vents according to manufacturer's guidelines. 

    Experts who spoke with Action 9 said that can cause major leaks.  

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    “If you cut the opening too wide, you're lessening the flange covering at the top of the hole, and more water will come in,” said Doug Wallace, with William John Associates.

    The hurricane exposed another big problem in these new home neighborhoods. There are off ridge vents that are not designed to keep windblown rain out. We found many builders installed off ridge vents that have large openings to circulate air but have nothing to block hurricane rain that blows sideways.

    “I think it made a big impact with the wind that came into the house,” said Hollowell, who blames those vents for the water damage in his house.

    Off ridge vents also come with deflectors, or baffles, that block sideways rain.

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    “I was on a number of roofs after the hurricane, where they had water damage where the water was actually blowing in up inside the vent,” said roof expert Doug Wallace. He found that some new homes without vent baffles took a beating.

    Action 9 found Hollowell's builder is now installing vents with deflectors at new construction sites. But homeowners burned by one hurricane are still stuck with vents that failed in new homes bought just two years ago.

    If you can document new home damage from Hurricane Irma,  you can still file a claim with your builder, if your home was covered by a warranty when the storm hit.

    Also consider a professional  inspection to document how the vents were installed.

    Click here to contact Todd and the Action 9 team

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