Water Stains on Your Ceiling can indicate serious problems.  Many times during a home inspection I  come across water stains on ceilings of the home.  In this article we are going to discuss some of the causes of water stains.  Every house is different and this means that every stain is different.  Only training and experience can help a home inspector make an informed decision regarding types and causes of water stains.

The most common ceiling stains found in Barrie ON is caused by leaks from a bathroom located above the affected area.  For some reason townhouses seem to be susceptible to this problem, which may be due to a lot of town homes being rentals.  Now this type of leak could be caused by something as simple as a child or adult not ensuring shower curtain is properly in place when having a shower.  Worst case is a leaking tub overflow pipe or leaking supply line.  If the leak is continuing then you will require a plumber to access the hidden plumbing to make a repair.

Leaks around brick fireplaces are fairly common and can usually be traced back to a penetration from the exterior of the home.  The most common problem with a chimney leaking is usually just a separation of the flashing which can be easily repaired with caulking.  Any chimney which is 30 inches or wider requires a “cricket or saddle” which diverts water to sides of chimney.  Proper flashing and caulking is very important in this area.

Staining in upper bedrooms or on the main floor in a bungalow are usually caused by a roof leak.  This is a common occurrence in older homes and especially rental properties as the roof is typically not replaced until it starts leaking. Simply replacing failing shingles will remedy the cause of the ceiling staining.  Roof vents can also be a source of water leaks which can cause staining.  Turbines will allow both water and snow to enter your attic and will eventually find its way down to your ceiling.  I have installed two batts of fiberglass insulation underneath all my turbines to catch any snow or moisture which will evaporate without causing damage to my blown cellulose insulation.  This method has been in place for over three years and there is no mould or moisture damage to the fiberglass batts.

Rubber flashings on plumbing vent pipes are another cause of water leaks.  Examining your flashing will quickly tell you if it is in need of repair or replacement.  Even the plumbing vent itself has been known to cause leaks in attics which will end up in your drywall below.  If your vent pipe extends horizontally and does not have the required fall water can collect in pipe and leak from a faulty joint causing a water stain.  Most roofs will fail at around 20 years of age and many roofers will re-use old flashings and valleys to save money.  Insist on new flashings and valleys whenever possible, your roof will look nicer and you will have more protection from leaks.

Bathroom exhaust fans pass through your attic.  In older homes they were vented using cheap plastic flexible ducts which were sometimes hung just below a roof vent.  The new building code requires that any exhaust duct passing through a un-heated space be insulated and the exhaust duct discharge to exterior.  Having a un-insulated exhaust duct can allow water to collect in duct and eventually stop the flow of air and cause a build-up of condensation.

Ceiling stains around the perimeter of a room below the roof are usually caused by ice dams.  This occurs in the winter when you have inadequate insulation and ventilation in your attic.  Heat trapped in your attic melts the snow against the shingles, which then freezes and turns to ice.  This pattern keeps occurring creating an ice dam and the eventual backing up of water under your shingles causing an eventual water leak in your ceiling.  Heating cables installed along edge of roof are a good indication that home has problem with “ice damming”.

Repairing a water leak in your ceiling is as critical as finding the cause.  If you notice an active water leak in your ceiling, poke a hole to allow water to drain into pot or bucket rather than allowing it to spread and cause greater damage.  Any significant leak will require the removal of tiles or drywall etc to  prevent the growth of mould.  Experts say the first two days after a water leak is important if you want to prevent the growth of mould.

When you hire the Barrie Home Inspector you get the knowledge and experience of someone who has inspected over 4,000 homes and is a Certified Master Inspector as well as a Certified Building Code Official.