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Question DetailsAsked on 3/14/2017

Can you help me find the source of the leak? Our 1st floor ceiling speaker is leaking water after a rain storm.

During a very heavy and windy rain storm one of our 6 in-ceiling speakers in our living room started leaking water out of it. The speaker is located about 3 feet from the rear wall (with windows to the outdoors) on the living room ceiling. It is on the 1st floor of a 2 story house and located approximately below the master bedroom window. I really hope we aren't going to find some MAJOR big issue and this is just some random fluke but we are worried about what other damage we are going to find.
When we pulled the speaker out of the ceiling (not sure if we will ever be able to get it back in) there wasn't any standing water - just damp insulation.

Any assistance and suggestions you have are very appreciated.

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2 Answers


Generally, a one-time leak like this is not critical - but the source of the water should be found and sealed off, because repeated wetting can eventually lead to rot in the walls/floors, and oif course insulation degradation making cold spots in the walls. And of course at some point possible breakthrough to some place where it will wet personal items or appliances or short out something electrical.

Well - could be anything from a roof leak on down to siding leak, window leak (either around the frame or through the frame), or a problem at a porch or deck roof connection ot the house, etc. Checking in the attic first (if accessible) for wetness, staining, wet insulation, water lying on top of the vapor barrier under the insulation should be able to rule in or out roof issues or water from ice damming - then visual inspection of siding for displaced/missing siding.

If those do not look likely, then windows would be next most likely - could be missing or leaking flashing/caulk around the outside of the frame leaking (most commonly at top) through the rough opening around the window, or leakage through the frame itself from blow-in around or through weatherstripping in the window. Or blow-in leakage through the gap between sash windows if they were not latched tight or vertical sach windows are in reversed position (outside window on bottom). Of course, if storm was just in the last day or less, check around windows on that side for wetness around or under the frame - though it might be going straight into the wall upstairs, then dripping out downstairs and into the ceiling.

All you can do is try to track it back to its source - this is a case where thermal infrared sensing might be of help (to avoid tearing into a bunch or drywall, if done soon so it does not have a chance to dry out. With many smart phones and tablets and laptops with built-in cameras you can recalibrate the camera so its detection moves into the near-infrared zone (off the visible scale to the red side) which can give you a somewhat-IR view of walls and ceilings which can commonly show wet insulation and such - most iPhone and IPads have this capability built-in, many ormost others you have to download an app to do it. Then when done, of course, reset camera parameters to factory default.

Obviously the leak would be near the top of the wet zone (which may extend a few feet above the leak due to wicking in wood and insulation). Best viewed when there is a sharp temperature contract between wall and outdoor temp - so early AM before sun gets on the walls or late night. If you don't have a smart phone/tablet which can do this, you can rent a true infrared camera/scanner at tool rental stores, Home Depot, some auto parts stores - typically about $50- for 1/2 day or approaching $75-100 for full day rental. (While you have it, be sure to scan the rest of the house from inside and out, and roof and attic if possible, to see if other suspicious zones show up which could be indicative of wetness or thin/missing/sagged insulation.

Also, if you make a recording of the scans (most take mini-CD or thumb drives or record internally and download to computer same way a camera does), you will have a record of rough locations of pipes and ducts as well - they usually show up well in at least a true IR scan - usually only if notably hotter or colder than surrounding wall with phones/tablets - though running water through them (or heated/cooled air through ducts) while scanning makes them show up much better.

Professionally, many larger insulation contractors have them, many or most energy auditors, and some Home Inspectors. Google for infrared or thermal scanning in your area, then cross-check those hits on Angies List for ratings and reviews. Commonly $200 to $350 for a whole-house scan, depending on local labor costs and whether he goes on roof and into attic and into crawlspaces and such or not.

Otherwise, tracking the wet insulation using small holes in the drywall (which will then have to be patched and repainted) is your method for tracking the wetness back to the source. Pulling interior trim off around the upstairs window on the windy side might also show you where the water wetted around the window and whether from side or top - generally using a putty knife or such you can pop the trim off without breaking it (popping it off the finish nails), then pull the nails and renail in the same holes after stuffing in a bit of paper to tighten up the hole. (If it was put on with a finish nail gun salvaging the nails is highly unlikely - buy color-matched finish nails in 50 or 100 pack for about $10.)

Here are links to a bunch of previous similar questions with answers - you can sort through the responses and ignore the ones that don't seem to apply in your case:

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



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Answered 3 years ago by Member Services

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