Your Place: Paint peeling, plaster crumbling - what to do?

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Q: I had a new roof put on my home 10 years ago.

In the last couple of years, I have noticed, first on one and then another, and now all interior sides of exterior walls, paint peeling and plaster crumbling.

This is happening only on the first and second floors. The third floor, right under the roof, is in fine shape.

I want to stop whatever it is, a leak of some sort, I imagine, and fix the walls (the easy part, Iím sure) before the day comes when my house goes on the market (not imminent).

Where do I start in the search for the source of the problem, and whom do I hire to do the searching? It occurred to me that the gutters are a likely source.

Should I call the roofer? (I do not think he installed the gutters, but I believe he reinstalled them.)

A. What kind of a warranty came with the roofing job?

Most of the queries I receive on this subject are from readers who say they have 10-year guarantees, and that if problems occur after the warranties end, the roofers wash their hands of them.

Itís a tough call. Look at the winter just past. If you get enough of those, a roof can deteriorate faster than any warranty can predict. Itís just an average, based on as much experience as the roofer can gather.

Yet Iíd give the roofer a call to see what he or she thinks and whether some time could be spared to take a look.

You say that based on the good condition of the third floor, the roof seems OK. Then the second and first floors could have problems for other reasons ó the gutters may, indeed, need adjustment if they havenít been maintained properly or were affected by the weight of ice and snow.

If your house is made of brick or stone, pointing might be necessary. Fascia boards could be rotted.

As I always say, I canít make on-site visits, so Iím just guessing based on experience.

If the source remains elusive, a former colleague wrote a column a few years back that is often recalled by readers with problems similar to yours.

She obtained the services of an inspector who, using a moisture sensor and an infrared detector, was able to discover the source.

The colleague says it was costly but worth it.

The link: http://goo.gl/IQO3Ue