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  1. #1
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    Default Ceiling staining but no water leak

    On a recent inspection in central Florida, I observed staining on the textured ceiling around the gas hot water vent as it entered the ceiling. This type of staining is consistent with what I have seen with a roof leak. The staining is very uniform around the vent entrance to the ceiling and protrudes approximately six inches out. When I inspected the attic side of the ceiling expecting to see a leak around the roof penetration of the vent, there were no indications of moisture or staining. This attic space is over the garage and is not insulated. Could this staining be caused by condenstion buildup during the colder months when the garage side of the ceiling is warm from the vent and the attic side cold (the home owner has the water heater at the highest setting)? Sorry I could not upload the photos due to excessive file size. Any thoughts?

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  2. #2
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Ceiling staining but no water leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Harwood View Post
    On a recent inspection in central Florida, I observed staining on the textured ceiling around the gas hot water vent as it entered the ceiling. This type of staining is consistent with what I have seen with a roof leak. The staining is very uniform around the vent entrance to the ceiling and protrudes approximately six inches out. When I inspected the attic side of the ceiling expecting to see a leak around the roof penetration of the vent, there were no indications of moisture or staining. This attic space is over the garage and is not insulated. Could this staining be caused by condenstion buildup during the colder months when the garage side of the ceiling is warm from the vent and the attic side cold (the home owner has the water heater at the highest setting)? Sorry I could not upload the photos due to excessive file size. Any thoughts?
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  3. #3
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    Oct 2011
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    Default Re: Ceiling staining but no water leak

    I would think it more likely due to condensation on the vent itself, say in the late evening when temps outside drop but the attic is still warm, and people have gone to bed so there's enough time between hot water heating cycles for the vent to cool.

    Photos would be good!

    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.
    - James Burgh, 1754.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Ceiling staining but no water leak

    What makes you think its not just running down the vent stack? Gap in flashing?


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Ceiling staining but no water leak

    How 'tight' is the ceiling to the vent?

    Single wall or double wall Type B gas vent?

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

  6. #6
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    Apr 2009
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    Melbourne, FL
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    Default Re: Ceiling staining but no water leak

    Brian, I have seen the same thing on the ceiling penetration where copper pipes are used to attach a solar roof panel to a hot water tank, its definitely condensation resulting from the differences in temp. Its a good idea to check the roof penetrations to be sure there aren't any other contributing factors.


  7. #7
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    Lake Barrington, IL
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    1,363

    Default Re: Ceiling staining but no water leak

    I'm careful with water stains. I try to stick with what I know. If I see no other indicators of a possible cause I simply write that the stain exists and that the cause was not determined. It usually seems best to leave the assumptions up to someone else. Just because there is a stain does not mean that there is a water or moisture issue.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Ceiling staining but no water leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    I'm careful with water stains. I try to stick with what I know. If I see no other indicators of a possible cause I simply write that the stain exists and that the cause was not determined. It usually seems best to leave the assumptions up to someone else. Just because there is a stain does not mean that there is a water or moisture issue.
    Precisely why I asked the questions I asked.

    To me, we don't "know" that it is a "water" stain.

    The stain could be caused by heat ... depending on the answers to the questions I asked.

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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Lady Lake, FL
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    Default Re: Ceiling staining but no water leak

    Jerry and Jack,

    The sheetrock is approximately 1/2" from the single wall type B gas vent. My thinking is more along the lines of what Kristi mentioned in that as the attic temp drops in the evening, condensation forms on the vent pipe, and falls down past the ceiling sheetrock onto the ceiling plate. The ceiling plate extends approximately 3" out from the vent thus allowing contact with the ceiling sheetrock on the garage side. The sheetrock then absorbs the condensation causing the staining. But it may be better to stick with what Eric said and stay with what you know... since there were no active signs of moisture during the inspection.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Utah
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    389

    Default Re: Ceiling staining but no water leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Harwood View Post
    Jerry and Jack,

    The sheetrock is approximately 1/2" from the single wall type B gas vent. My thinking is more along the lines of what Kristi mentioned in that as the attic temp drops in the evening, condensation forms on the vent pipe, and falls down past the ceiling sheetrock onto the ceiling plate. The ceiling plate extends approximately 3" out from the vent thus allowing contact with the ceiling sheetrock on the garage side. The sheetrock then absorbs the condensation causing the staining. But it may be better to stick with what Eric said and stay with what you know... since there were no active signs of moisture during the inspection.
    I sort of agree with this, but it would seem to me that it is the vent pipe that has cooled as a result of the indoor temp being lower than the attic and does not matter the temperature of the attic, rather the attic humidity level.


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    26,248

    Default Re: Ceiling staining but no water leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Harwood View Post
    The sheetrock is approximately 1/2" from the single wall type B gas vent.
    The minimum required clearance is 1" all the way around.

    If there is a 1/2" gap and there is condensation on the vent, wouldn't the condensation just run down along the vent and not even touch the drywall ceiling? Or is there a firestop collar installed which is collecting the condensation?

    Just trying to visualize what is actually there.

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

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Lady Lake, FL
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: Ceiling staining but no water leak

    Jerry,

    From the information gathered here, the firestop collar appears to be collecting the condensation (or some form of moisture... it does not appear to be coming from the roof penetration) and providing the source of moisture which is then absorbed by the ceiling drywall.

    Thanks to everyone for their input!


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