This must be my month for slab-grinding issues. I looked at a house that had the basement slab ground flat before some flooring was installed. Things went wrong, and the homeowners got an attorney involved, who got me involved.

As the homeowner left the morning of the grinding, he asked if he needed to do anything to the HVAC system or stairway to keep dust out of the rest of the house. The contractor said no, he'd handle everything. When the homeowner got home that evening, the front yard and rear deck were white with dust. He opened the front door to a dust cloud. The contractor then proceeded to clean everything, inside and out… with a garden hose. Needless to say, he was replaced with another contractor who redid the job and finished it without creating dust. Even when the vacuum system clogged when we ground our own slab last week, we didn't create that much dust. And what we did create was heavy, big particles that settled quickly. But that's part of the nature of concrete.

Anyway, a year later, the homeowner still hadn't gotten his money back from the original contractor. He then found mold growing at the base of a wall behind a bed in a low spot where water had puddled. Then I got called to help document the extent of the water and mold issue because they were going after the contractor for that mess, also.

After a little poking around with my pinless meter, I determined that the moldy area was still wet. Now, as ya'll know, water from cleanup a year ago should be long gone. Something still wet would suggest another source of moisture. So back to more poking around with the pinless meter, pin meter, hygrometer, infrared camera and even a garden hose. Lo and behold, I found a window leak. The window was directly above the wet area, so it wasn't that hard to make the connection. But I still had to prove it. And sometimes, with all the layers on the wall, that gets difficult.

So the homeowner's claim isn't as big as they had thought. And the cause wasn't what they thought. And now they have other problems to deal with. I wish the other house I am working on was this simple. Everyone would be a whole lot happier.

Craig DeWitt, PhD, PE, is president of RLC Engineering LLC in Clemson, S.C. Craig has a PhD in engineering and specializes in wood, moisture and indoor environments. He has provided inspection and consulting services for over 20 years.