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Question DetailsAsked on 5/14/2014

We have several in house water stains and not sure of the source. Who should we call? A plumber or roofer?

Spot on ceiling in dining room (1stfloor). Also extensive water stains in kitchen ceiling. Think may be pipes/ leaking from bathroom or roof/rain. We had extensive work done on upstairs bathroom above kitchen, putting in a new ceiling a few years ago because of ceiling leaks ...... Could it be a problem never solved? Back then they never could solve the dining room ceiling leak. Not sure who to call for such an extensive problem especially since we can't identify the source.

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7 Answers

Voted Best Answer
1
Vote

Because you have several stains in widely different locations, I would be almost certain you have 40+ year old pipes, and are having pinholing of the pipes as they reach their replacement age - or you have PEX and it is leaking or joints were done badly.


Someone is not trying or was reluctant to penetrate the drywall. My suggestion - rent (about $10-15 at some auto supply stores, or at tool rental place) or buy (about $100 with shipping) a COLOR (B&W does not show water stains as well) fiber optic video camera with strong fiber optic lights like this - http://www.harborfreight.com/digital-...


Takes a 1/2" hole typically to put wand through - make sure you get 3' or longer flexible shaft fiber optic cable camera, and you will need a stepladder so you can get the camera itself up close to the ceiling, letting you reach several feet into the floor above. Of course, it does not work in insulated ceiling or wall cavities.


Drill holes through the ceiling drywall at the stains (be careful not to punch through and hit wires or pipes) and look in the ceiling, tracking the water stain first on the top of the ceiling drywall, then up from there onto joists or flooring above where it is flowing or dripping from. Trace back to its source - and also pay attention to whether there is enough mold to need remediation, or fungus causing dry rot in your floor structure. If actively leaking, tracking it is quick as you can see the darker and glistening wet areas from 6 or more feet away from the tip of the camera - dried stains are clear only a few feet away, where the light is bright. Be sure to look also for corrosion or stalagtites of lime on the bottom of pipes where it has been dripping off - though they can occur at points where it is running along a pipe before dripping too, so be sure to find actual source point - don't get misled by a drip point where the water is running along a horizontal pipe or joist and then dripping down.


Typically takes about 1-3 inspection holes to track a pipe or tub/shower leak from the next floor above, up to 5-8 at time if tracking a roof leak from a downstairs floor. Of course, start first with a strong (6V lantern type is best) flashlight and closely inspect the underside of your roof sheathing and rafters and the top of your attic insulation for water staining or insulation matting - though if you previously had a roof leak issue it might be tough to distinguish old from current leaks unless done right after a good long rain.


In extreme cases, or to search without damaging wall surfaces (especially if hardwood or decorative copper or such) you could have an energy auditor with thermal infrared camera come in - they can detect wet areas in floors and ceilings and walls without drilling any holes, by remote sensing using IR cameras that look similar to the above, but detect heat differences in the walls. Does not work well on small drip leaks that have not spread over larger areas, or leaks that are intermittent but currently dry, so since you do not have actual wet areas, I would recommend the fiber optic camera.


This will leave you just a few holes that you can spackle and touch paint to repair, rather than 1-2 foot square holes which you will usually get if you have a plumber try to trace the leak. For some reason plumbers are just not into getting into any technology like the fiber optic cameras, even though it is so cheap now. Some plumbers and sewer and drain contractors have sewer cameras, but do not offer to use them for this purpose, because of the yuck factor of running a sewer contaminated camera into your walls and ceilings.

Source: 

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

0
Votes

Gol durn it Angie's List - get your programming contractor on the ball or get a new one, or I am just going to quit contributing here. Once again, your program is sometimes (but not always) stripping out all the carriage return/line feeds like in the answer above, so you cannot form paragraphs and it ends up one giant run-on. This was fixed twice in the past year or two and is now back - if you want people to be able to easily read answers, you should take out only tripled or more consecutive cr/lf's, leaving in doubles and singles to form paragraphs and open lines around links and such. This is not rocket science - it has been a standard programming subroutine, and in many languages a built-in function, since the 70's !

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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I am not sure of which ceiling was replaced in your home. The way you worded it makes me think it was the bathroom ceiling, if so it could be a roofing leak. Possibly near a plumbing vent in the roof that is following the pipe down and then dripping on the first floor ceilings. You might be better off with an older General Contractor than a roofer or a plumber. The roofers generally look at a leak with tunnel vision and look to the roof as the source and the plumber looks to what he knows. The General Contractors with a few gray hairs like myself and I think LCD (sorry if I am wrong) generally know the whole house and the systems in it. I just had a case where the leak was comming from an improperly installed replacement window's sill flashing that was showing up on the ceiling below about 6 feet away!


Don

Answered 5 years ago by ContractorDon

0
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LCD, I'm seeing your answer as being broken into paragraphs - are you seeing something different on your end?

Answered 5 years ago by KielH

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Same here I see it broken into paragraphs and very easy to follow a well written answer. As is usually the case LCD.


Don

Answered 5 years ago by ContractorDon

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Kiel - last night when the answer was done, and three times after that as I edited it to add back in a couple of returns after each paragraphin the 15 minute editing timeframe, it came up as a continuous run-on - I even did a complete computer restart, and came into the question clean fro the recent questions list, and was dstill a run-on - that is why I did the comment.


So - appears to be a glitch inthe programming when it is entered and soon after (happened on three different responses last night) but gets cleaned up sometimes after that phase - so I would say the problem is in maybe a version of the program you run during your nightly backup cycle, because the prior 2 times I reported it (to JP, as I recall) were also in the midnight to early AM timeframe your time.


Allthree look OK this morning, so it is eventually getting cleaned up in your system.


Thanks

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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The Leaks I am referring to are in the kitchen ceiling .... Which is directly under the bathroom floor. Had the entire bathroom redone which included gutting the entire bathroom as well as replacing the floor. At the same time the entire plaster kitchen ceiling was removed and replaced with drywall. Some of same leaks are appearing as well as new. :( Appreciate any and all suggestions on where to start to try and resolve issue.


also have a leak in ceiling in dining room adjacent to kichen on 1st floor... This they looked for when bath/kitchen work was done.... Was never resolved. The other kitchen leaks are new after several years from when work was done before they appeared.

Answered 5 years ago by GuestChicago

1
Vote


It sounds like LCD could be correct that it might be a problem with old pipes such as cast iron or galvanized pipe that is past it's service life. You could narrow it down a bit by when the leaks happen. Is it just when a shower is taken, a sink is used, toilet used or all the time. You really have to have someone visit the home to tell for sure. If it is sporadic in nature it could even be a bad joint inbetween the tile and tub or shower pan or through the wall plate on the diverter or tub spout. If when the new tub or shower was put in it quite often cracks between the wall and tub or shower and if this joint is not done properly it can leak. I actually tell customers to expect it and call me back. It does not happen all the time as we shim and fasten the pan or shower but it can and since we use a flexible caulk behind the tub joint it would not leak but I like to let them know to call if it does. I have gone back recently to fix this on a tub I did 9 years ago for free. Is this bathroom on an outside wall where there is a roof joining the wall as seen on a cape with a dormer?

If it happens all the time it may very well be bad piping and the camera LCD mentioned is a good way to find it. If someone like myself or LCD were able to see the whole picture we might be able to find it without poking holes in the surface. If you want to add further info such as how often it happens and what fixture was in use, location of any windows or if dormers or a roof joint is near and have you called the contractor that did the bathroom. Even if the drain pipes were replaced it could be a joint in the PVC pipe that was never

glued. As much info as you can give would help.


Don

Answered 5 years ago by ContractorDon




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