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  1. #1
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    Default drywall joint tape

    bath above living room ceiling; no stain, just blister joint tape. Is this historical leaking or condensate damage?

    Thanks

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Looks like bad taping becoming detached over time. No yellow or dusty residue, probably not a leaker.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Markus is likely correct, however it could be evidence of a problem.
    Requires further investigation!

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    I would call it a possible leak, but that when tested with a moisture meter it was dry and that the buyer should consult with the owner as to the history of the leak. I would not even bring up a bad tape job in the report.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Yes, I believe it was leaking at least condensate damage.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Louis View Post
    Yes, I believe it was leaking at least condensate damage.
    Unlikely to be from condensation.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Hi Rick: Can you explain? I have not seen a confirmed condensate damage on a ceiling.

    Thanks


  8. #8
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Louis View Post
    Hi Rick: Can you explain? I have not seen a confirmed condensate damage on a ceiling.

    Thanks
    First
    You (We) do not know why the drywall tape is loose.
    Could be poor tape job, but it could be from moisture, we just do not know.
    That is why I said "Needs further investigation"
    Next
    I said "Unlikely to be from condensation"
    Condensation is possibly but unlikely between floors.
    To have condensation you need excess moisture (water leak or other source) and a cold surface for the moisture to condense on. You could have excess moisture, but are less likely to have a cold surface for the moisture to condense on.
    The cold surface could be:
    Drain pipe
    AC duct
    Cold water line
    What is pictured is loose tape most likely across the joist, not parallel with the joist.
    Drain pipes and AC ducts most often go between floor joist, seldom across them.
    Drain pipes are not likely to get cold enough to cause condensation.
    AC ducts are most often insulated, not likely to cause condensation.
    So that leaves Cold water lines.
    Could be condensation from cold water line, but water lines most often go up through walls, not often across floors.

    But don't try to explain what caused the tape to come loose.
    Just report that the tape is loose and could be from moisture.
    Requires further investigation to determine if cause of loose tape is from moisture, poor workmanship, or something else.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Peter
    Do you know (or suspect) if the ceiling has been painted?

    Many times HO's just paint to freshen up a room, but sometimes to cover up water stains.
    There was a thread on here some time ago where there was a leaking shower pan.
    The inspector did not catch it.
    One of the reasons he did not catch it was because the room had a new floor and had been painted.
    Cost him some money for that.
    Were the HO's just updating the room to sale, or were they trying to cover up something?

    Anyhow, ANY TIME you see fresh paint, new floor, etc, look close, be suspicious. Even to the point of don't believe what the HO or agent tells you.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Thanks Rick, very logic description.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Looks like a bad tape job to me. There's not much mud covering it up.

    Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Quote Originally Posted by Kristi Silber View Post
    Looks like a bad tape job to me. There's not much mud covering it up.
    Maybe it is.
    Remember, later it could very easily turn out to be something more, maybe even a lot more.
    What will you say to the new owners that would not have bought the house except for your statement "Looks like a bad tape job"?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Louis View Post
    bath above living room ceiling;
    Peter,

    What is in the bathroom above the living room - a shower? A regular bathtub? A spa type bathtub?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    there are tub, shower stall, toilet & sink. But I think the spot under the bath floor in the middle.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Louis View Post
    there are ..., shower stall, ... But I think the spot under the bath floor in the middle.
    The most likely cause.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  16. #16

    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    That looks like my drywall work! I'd say it's a bad drywall joint, probably a home owner DIY job or a untalented handyman's workmanship.

    With the moisture meter reading dry, I'd make a note of it as a possible previous leak, monitor this area.

    Andrew Constantine
    Lake Wylie, SC Home Inspector

    "Smile all day. You'll be surprised how many people will smile back!"


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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Maybe it is.
    Remember, later it could very easily turn out to be something more, maybe even a lot more.
    What will you say to the new owners that would not have bought the house except for your statement "Looks like a bad tape job"?
    All I said was that it looks like a bad tape job, IMHO. Looks like there wasn't a good layer of mud underneath for the tape to bond with, and the layer on top is very thin. That doesn't mean I wouldn't look for other possibilities, but in the absence of anything suggesting a leak, I wouldn't say it is a leak, either.

    A new paint job doesn't necessarily mean something bad is being covered up...could just be that the initial color isn't very marketable.

    Last edited by Kristi Silber; 04-24-2012 at 07:23 PM.
    Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Constantine View Post
    I'd make a note of it as a possible previous leak, monitor this area.
    Andrew,

    The problem with telling your client, the buyer, to "monitor" that area is that if (or 'when') the cause (a leak) comes back after they buy the house and move in is that *they* will be the ones responsible for finding and correcting whatever is not right, the *sellers* will be off the hook as they would have already closed.

    It is a tough position to be in when the home inspector finds something like that, but the home inspector is there for the client and their best interests without regard to the seller (yes, you read that correctly - if there is anything which is not clear cut, then it is the client's interest, without regard for the seller's interests, that the home inspector is there for).

    "Without regard to the seller" may sound strong, but is the seller paying you? If not, then it is the buyer's best interests you are there for (presuming that the your client is the buyer).

    Some home inspectors think 'why should the seller have to pay for ... ' when they should be thinking 'why should the buyer have to pay for ... '. That is the reality.

    In theory ... the home inspector is there to document *facts* (Just the facts, Ma'am, just the facts.), however, there will be some 'facts' which are unknown, and someone will be responsible for taking on the burden of addressing them - and who should that be? The seller? The buyer? If in doubt, who hired you?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Jerry
    How do you think Peter should report this?
    What would you do?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Jerry
    How do you think Peter should report this?
    What would you do?
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    It is a tough position to be in when the home inspector finds something like that,
    I have been there, and what I reported varied slightly based on what I saw and thought was the cause.

    I might be something like this:
    - Possible leak from the bathroom above; could be from the shower stall, toilet, drain lines above the ceiling, etc.; recommend having a plumber test and document that there are no leaks above the living room ceiling where tape is loose at drywall joint.
    - This could be a poor drywall finishing and taping job, but before presuming that the drywall has been taped and finished poorly (which could indicate other taped joints will come loose), I recommend that a leak from above be eliminated as the cause; if there is no leak and the loose tape is a result of a poor tape and finish job, be prepared for additional work from other taped joints coming loose.

    A) I've recommended a plumber test all aspects of all plumbing above the living room ceiling, not just the shower, it could be the drain lines, supply lines, could be anything ... or nothing.
    B) I've notified my client that if people want to say it is just a 'bad tape job', then they need to be aware that *the entire tape job may be bad*. That is also a way to keep people from saying that it is 'just a bad tape job' because they are then condemning the entire house as being a 'bad tape job' when/if they say that. Makes them think before they speak.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Seems like a witch hunt. If not a bad tape joint, the "event" that might have caused it must have been singular becauses no current moisture was noted, ( cannot read that meter ). An overflow ? A spilled slop bucket ? The possibilities for a one time event are many. It's there and it's not wet now !


  22. #22
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    The two areas you point to in the first picture are clearly in line. I suspect that line is the seam and in the direction of the floor/ceiling joists above.

    I am less suspicious of water from above causing blistering - it is obviously unskilled workmanship (DIY repair) we are seeing.

    As to why the area was adulterated, if it wasn't a leak from the bathroom above, and I see no evidence to indicate that there might have been one,
    I'd refocus on the direction of the ceiling joists and drywall seams.

    I am more suspicious that the heavy ceiling fan is not original - and would suggest that the box and support be inquired about, and if necessary investigated.

    If the necessary support and correct ceiling box has been installed for the weight of the fan - I suspect it was done more recently - and that the patch job followed soon after the new fan was being used.






  23. #23
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Report it as you see it..." Loose/blistering drywall tape in ceiling beneath bathroom, indicates possible water leak. No evidence indicating active / current leak and could also be from poor workmanship during drywall tape installation. Further investigation may be necessary to determine possible cause(s)."

    Absent any active moisture indicators, the only sure way to determine if there was a leak is to tear out the drywall and look for staining....not a suitable remedy, IMO, to look for a stain. Neither is tearing out the bathroom floor or toilet removal a viable recourse when there are no other indicators of leaking. An IR camera may provide more information than a moisture meter and an alternative which could be recommended.

    I'm inclined toward crappy taping, which needs to be cut back to a sound point, re-taped, mudded, sealed and painted. If the joint is formed by cut and square drywall board edges (as opposed to the 'taping edge') it will likely have less compound applied acting as an adhesive, allowing the tape to blister, but certainly would not rule out a prior or even current leak.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    This discussion is why I would have recommended the sell correct the bad/loose tape, seal and paint ceiling. If the problem if corrected then it is no longer an issue. Leaving it the way it appears in the picture just leads to open speculation.

    The picture is a fine example of water from the bath above migrating across the ceiling and exiting at the seam. Causing the tape to separate. That they sealed and painted. Unless the entire house has a bad tape job the bet is on the bath as a cause.

    The question of who should repair is just a minor factor in the price negotiations.
    In the years gone past people bought homes with the understanding that there will be repairs and they calculated it into the offer. Today it seems no one wants/knows how to make a repair, especially the cosmetic ones. Buy a used car it has dings and scrapes you make an offer based on that. You don't make the seller fix the body and repaint the car or maybe you do. It's negotiation.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    I'm surprised. both of you are experienced inspectors.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    Report it as you see it..." Loose/blistering drywall tape in ceiling beneath bathroom, indicates possible water leak. No evidence indicating active / current leak and could also be from poor workmanship during drywall tape installation. Further investigation may be necessary to determine possible cause(s)."

    Absent any active moisture indicators, the only sure way to determine if there was a leak is to tear out the drywall and look for staining....not a suitable remedy, IMO, to look for a stain. Neither is tearing out the bathroom floor or toilet removal a viable recourse when there are no other indicators of leaking. An IR camera may provide more information than a moisture meter and an alternative which could be recommended.

    I'm inclined toward crappy taping, which needs to be cut back to a sound point, re-taped, mudded, sealed and painted. If the joint is formed by cut and square drywall board edges (as opposed to the 'taping edge') it will likely have less compound applied acting as an adhesive, allowing the tape to blister, but certainly would not rule out a prior or even current leak.

    If /when it is discovered that it is a leak, the ceiling/ floor/ shower or whatever will need to be taken out. But then it will be the buyers having it done, the people that hired you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    This discussion is why I would have recommended the sell correct the bad/loose tape, seal and paint ceiling. If the problem if corrected then it is no longer an issue. Leaving it the way it appears in the picture just leads to open speculation.

    The picture is a fine example of water from the bath above migrating across the ceiling and exiting at the seam. Causing the tape to separate. That they sealed and painted. Unless the entire house has a bad tape job the bet is on the bath as a cause.

    The question of who should repair is just a minor factor in the price negotiations.
    In the years gone past people bought homes with the understanding that there will be repairs and they calculated it into the offer. Today it seems no one wants/knows how to make a repair, especially the cosmetic ones. Buy a used car it has dings and scrapes you make an offer based on that. You don't make the seller fix the body and repaint the car or maybe you do. It's negotiation.
    It's not a question of WHO is to pay for the repair, that is between the buyer and seller. It's informing the buyer of defects, causes (or likely causes) correction or what to do next, and what trade person to call. At least to the best we can determine. When, as in this example, we are uncertain of the cause, we must inform the buyer of our uncertainty and the possibilities (consequences).

    I would recommend the buyer to have seller remove a small portion of the ceiling. Then I would examine inside the area.
    Cost to seller to tape and mud only, $75-$100 (+ paint)
    Cost to remove 16"x 16" of ceiling and replace, tape and mud. $125-150
    If nothing is found it cost an extra $50 + my cost to come back out.
    If on the other hand a leak (or prior leak) is found...
    Well I think I done my job.

    Just guessing now
    50% of buyers that are dissatisfied (ask for money) with a home inspector are dissatisfied because of under reporting ( soft reporting). Now add to this possible water damage and you have a very angry buyer (they have their attorney ask for money).


    Sure, this is a hard call, but that is why they hired you. If every home was easy, you (the HI) would not be needed. Any one can see the obvious problems. We are hired to also find the not so obvious problems.
    The little things, that turn out to be not so little.

    It's simple, if you don't know for sure what the cause is, say so, then recommend further examination to determine the cause. Especially when there may be water.

    As for cars and houses sold years ago, so what, this is now. This is why you are there.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    Seems like a witch hunt. If not a bad tape joint, the "event" that might have caused it must have been singular becauses no current moisture was noted, ( cannot read that meter ). An overflow ? A spilled slop bucket ? The possibilities for a one time event are many. It's there and it's not wet now !
    And that would be in the seller's response ... which will not happen unless and until it is written up.

    The seller's response can be taken at face value by the client if they so chose.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  27. #27
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    I'm surprised. both of you are experienced inspectors.





    If /when it is discovered that it is a leak, the ceiling/ floor/ shower or whatever will need to be taken out. But then it will be the buyers having it done, the people that hired you.



    It's not a question of WHO is to pay for the repair, that is between the buyer and seller. It's informing the buyer of defects, causes (or likely causes) correction or what to do next, and what trade person to call. At least to the best we can determine. When, as in this example, we are uncertain of the cause, we must inform the buyer of our uncertainty and the possibilities (consequences).

    I would recommend the buyer to have seller remove a small portion of the ceiling. Then I would examine inside the area.
    Cost to seller to tape and mud only, $75-$100 (+ paint)
    Cost to remove 16"x 16" of ceiling and replace, tape and mud. $125-150
    If nothing is found it cost an extra $50 + my cost to come back out.
    If on the other hand a leak (or prior leak) is found...
    Well I think I done my job.

    Just guessing now
    50% of buyers that are dissatisfied (ask for money) with a home inspector are dissatisfied because of under reporting ( soft reporting). Now add to this possible water damage and you have a very angry buyer (they have their attorney ask for money).


    Sure, this is a hard call, but that is why they hired you. If every home was easy, you (the HI) would not be needed. Any one can see the obvious problems. We are hired to also find the not so obvious problems.
    The little things, that turn out to be not so little.

    It's simple, if you don't know for sure what the cause is, say so, then recommend further examination to determine the cause. Especially when there may be water.

    As for cars and houses sold years ago, so what, this is now. This is why you are there.
    Like it or not, understand it or not or even agree with it or not, as a HI performing an inspection on a home which is going through a sale process is a delicate matter. Inspectors can (and are) blamed for killing a deal for being considered overly zealous and for incompetance in not finding issues which, if discovered may have resulted in the buyer/client walking away. Therein lie other issues.

    Certainly I would have, as I most always do, discuss findings with my client beyond the content of my report. An issue, such as this, would have resulted in my verbally expressing the remedies in determining the blistering taped joint. I would have verbally encouraged to client to have the buyer, in some way and to their satisfaction, determine that no aspect of the bathroom was leaking, but that would not be in the report as a recommendation. I would leave that (the manner in which determination was made) up to the buyer - using their own words and their own demands. No one knows better than the client themselves - except perhaps their agent - how the negotiations should proceed. The buyer/client frequently has an emotional attachment to the property and the art of negotiation may be lost if strong written demands or suggestions are made in the Inspection report. Presenting a remedy - such as described (cutting a hole in the drywall etc) may be an appropriate course of action but I would rather the buyer make that request, versus me including it in my report.

    In CA the seller receives a copy of the report and though it may be to the detriment of the Inspector, consideration must be made as to what is written and how that written word is perceived. That's not 'soft reporting' but presenting facts thereby allowing the client use them as they see fit.

    Last edited by Ian Page; 04-25-2012 at 11:05 PM.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    ... consideration must be made as to what is written and how that written word is percieved. ...
    The only consideration which must be made as to what is written is that it is factual as you know it or see it.

    How those facts are perceived by others is beyond your control and should be one of your considerations.

    "Just the facts, Ma'am, just the facts."

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  29. #29
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    This is a great discussion and there is valuable input by all. To me, this situation is one of the toughest as an HI. There is evidence of a problem... BUT, who knows when? was it fixed? These questions become even tougher with the all so common foreclosures.... as in, no seller disclosure... nobody knows anything.

    Personally, I just go back to the basics of what I was taught.... write what you see. Easy enough. I see a stain and evidence of possible past leakage. No leakage was noted after extensive testing of the plumbing fixtures above. Next comes the recommendation (this is the tough part). As JP says a lot depends on the individual situation. I'll usually say, ask the sellers about past repairs. If no information is available this may be an active/intermittent condition. If the seller is a bank there's really no one to ask but that's not really our problem and HIs.

    The main thing is to talk the buyers through the possibilities and make them aware of the risks if they plan to take them on (again, thinking of the foreclosure where no repairs will be done... nobody is going to cut out squares of drywall and have a plumber come investigate).

    In the end my position on this exact scenario (it's a common one) is that I'm not going to be sued out of business one way or another. What's the worst thing that can happen? You're on the hook for repairing a slow drip and some drywall... and even that's a stretch. Afterall, you were there and tested the plumbing and it didn't leak. You say it might in the future.... how much could really be pinned on you?

    So many of us go beyond the minimal SOPs that it's tough when you can't.... but at the end of the day you're only a human with a set of eyes and some tools on a given day.


  30. #30
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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    In the second picture it does not appear to be a bad tape job. Usuallt bad tape jobs don't have an area that looks like a bubble like the one in the picture. A bad tape job is more consistant and more of one big gradual bubble.

    From what I see there is an area that is more like a leak exactly where the seam in the drywall is located. A bad tape job would not have a failure in the middle of the tape like that.


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    Default Re: drywall joint tape

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Carlisle View Post
    In the second picture it does not appear to be a bad tape job. Usually bad tape jobs don't have an area that looks like a bubble like the one in the picture. A bad tape job is more consistant and more of one big gradual bubble.

    From what I see there is an area that is more like a leak exactly where the seam in the drywall is located. A bad tape job would not have a failure in the middle of the tape like that.
    Since we are still kicking this one around - Why isn't that ceiling textured?

    Possible reasons 1) Newer home, texture is out of fashion, 2) Custom home, the owner asked for smooth ceilings, 3) Renovated home, they peeled off the texture, causing some thin plaster seams. or 4) Owner-built.

    3 or 4, it would be normal to see bad taping. 1 or 2, there is some other reason for bad tape, if we can assume professional work. But with a tub directly above, there's not much to debate. I would suspect a leak or a major water spill, and that would go into the report somehow.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

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