When homeowners call Petkus Bros. about a leak in a sunroom the Rancho Cordova, Calif.-based contractor installed, they often make it sound like Niagara Falls has been unleashed. The actual problem, says co-owner Kevin Petkus, “is rarely more than a drip or a seep.” His company, a Four Seasons Sunrooms franchise, has been in business since 1981 and installs “a couple hundred” sunrooms a year. “A good 30% of the time, the flashing blew up in a storm and water is getting in behind it. We'll usually fix it on the spot.”

When and How Contractors say they try to respond to leak complaints within a few days. But some admit their response time is affected by the availability of manpower and the time elapsed between the installation and the leak complaint. The Shademaster, a Holmdel, N.J., contractor, has four installers who are working on as many as 18 sunroom projects at a time. So, says owner Carmine Annuniziata, unless the leak is letting in enough water to damage floors, carpeting, or furniture, his crew might not get to the house for a month.

On the other hand, within two-to-four business days of receiving a leak call, Home Comfort Now in East Hartford, Conn., sends an installer to inspect the room if it was built within the previous year. If the sunroom was installed prior to that, Home Comfort Now turns the job over to its service staff, who will fix the leak within 30 days, says Linda Poteet, the company's customer service manager.

Back Tracking Leaks are sometimes attributable to product defects, sometimes to installation mistakes. When York, Pa.-based Appleby Systems determines the cause to be installer error, “we backtrack on all the jobs done by that installer prior to that installation,” says director of marketing Chris Wood. Poteet says Home Comfort Now charts the quality of its installers' work every month. Contractors insist, though, that many leaks result from what Wood calls “pre-existing” conditions of the house to which the sunroom is attached. Appleby's installers photograph what they think might be the problem, try to stop what's causing the leak, and alert the homeowner if they think bigger repairs are needed.

Recently, Petkus Brothers got a call about a leak being caused by dry rot around the home's chimney. “We explained the problem to the owner, and arranged to have a qualified roofer come in, who fixed the problem and even replaced the flashing for only around $300,” says Petkus. “The owners had no idea how much trouble and expense we saved them.”