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Mystery leak, stains on ceiling getting worse. Piglet John?

(44 Posts)
windchimes23 Mon 09-Feb-15 15:55:49

A couple of weeks ago two small water stains (yellow) appeared on my hallway ceiling. They got worse so I called a plumber to investigate. There are no leaks from the central heating system (pressure tested). So the plumber took up the floorboards on the first floor landing, and in the bathroom. Everywhere is dry, no sign of a leak anywhere. He even took out the boxing which holds the pipe work in the dining room, all dry in there too. All the joists look dry.

But I'm not happy, as the stains have grown again since Saturday. They have to be coming from somewhere? The part of the hallway where the stains are is in the centre of the house, no bathroom directly overhead. But I guess that water seeps to the lowest point.

I'm now googling stuidly expensive companies who will investigate with CCTV as I need to find this bloody leak.

Has anyone manged to find an undetected leak?

PigletJohn if you're out there can you talk some sense into me?

windchimes23 Mon 09-Feb-15 15:57:50

Just to add some photos, there has to be a leak somewhere?

PigletJohn Mon 09-Feb-15 17:27:01

when was that ceiling painted?

did he lift the floorboards above the stain?

windchimes23 Mon 09-Feb-15 17:48:43

Thanks PigletJohn.

Ceiling above painted last April. Floorboards above stain were up, no sign of any water. It was dry and dusty. It's all very odd.

The stain is spreading daily confused

summersoft Mon 09-Feb-15 20:26:47

You need to speak to a good decorator before going down the mini camera route. Looks like a reaction between different paints/surfaces. Very much doubt it's water related.

windchimes23 Mon 09-Feb-15 20:54:21

Thanks Summer, have you seen this before? The ceiling is 1901 Lincrusta, but all painted in the same way. Only the lowest points are showing stains? The stain is tracking downwards daily.

summersoft Mon 09-Feb-15 21:02:10

I see water Leaks on ceilings a lot and they tend to be in one place and grow in that place. Not spread randomly like on your pictures.

EnriqueTheRingBearingLizard Mon 09-Feb-15 21:17:12

I had a water stained ceiling which presented in several different places. The source was a leak from a bath waste, not showing wet because the water was absorbed in the insulation. Eventually it travelled along the different beams though. Have to admit the construction, solid floors upstairs and some err unconventional techniques employed are really not the norm and it took a long time to show itself because the bath is used rarely.

That's not really any help though because our source of the water was pretty obvious to track.

themagicamulet Mon 09-Feb-15 22:05:54

is it on the cornicing as well or just the lincrusta? If the latter I suspect it's something other than water damage - perhaps a reaction between the paint and ancient linseed oil in the lincrusta which is only now emerging. (I am struck by the apparent lack of any staining on the plain plastered and painted wall next to it...water is rarely that choosey!)

PigletJohn Mon 09-Feb-15 22:10:42

yes, if the subfloor was dry, I suspect it is an old stain coming through the paint, and a stain blocker will fix it,.

Alternatively, there might have been a leak that had dried out the day you looked, but there could have been watermarks in the dust in that case. Old houses often have disused pipework left in place, sometime with the ends hammered shut and cut off.

I would want to look and sniff under the upstairs floor quite often.

PigletJohn Mon 09-Feb-15 22:12:08

oops, you say it is still tracking daily?

Use a sharp knife to make a slit, see if water drips out.

windchimes23 Mon 09-Feb-15 22:18:48

Lol at sniffing, the plumber made me crawl on all fours and sniff for damp. He couldn't smell anything. I had to sniff carpet, underlay, boards and dust. Nada, not a slight whiff of damp.

Behooven Mon 09-Feb-15 22:19:58

itisnt we had something similar in our last house. We bought a moisture meter from Amazon like this
It will tell you one way or the other if it's water

windchimes23 Mon 09-Feb-15 22:30:04

Getting my knife out tomorrow wink. Will buy a damp meter as its worth a punt for £10.

windchimes23 Mon 09-Feb-15 22:37:42

This is the floor above the leak, completely dry, and very dusty.

PigletJohn Mon 09-Feb-15 23:02:23

I hope you'll be sweeping that up.

Are the black cables on the left disused? They are too close to the surface and would be best removed.

If you see any cables in contact with CH pipes, add pipe insulation as the heat will soften them and shorten their life.

windchimes23 Mon 09-Feb-15 23:19:05

The black cables are the old electrics that the builders left in there, that was a nice surprise. My plumber called the builders some names. The old water pipes are in there too apparently, but the supply is capped in the basement.

I am now questioning my husband as he changed a bathroom tap in December but claims there was no water escape as he used the shut off valve on the taps supply. I was away at the time. Drip feeding on a leak thread wink

windchimes23 Mon 09-Feb-15 23:27:39

themagic it is only on the Lincrusta, nothing on cornicing or walls. Nothing in any other rooms. I might just give it a while to dry and get an oil based undercoat on it if my stabbing tomorrow doesn't yield any results.

Going to get a damp meter to, it's worth seeing if it's getting worse.

PigletJohn Mon 09-Feb-15 23:42:37

an example of a clean and tidy subfloor

windchimes23 Tue 10-Feb-15 12:19:19

That subfloor is cleaner than my carpets wink

Drilled a 7mm hole this morning, no water so far.

Thanks for the advice everyone.

CheeseBadger Tue 10-Feb-15 12:38:58

If the surface of the paper is dry I'd look for something else. Does the stain scrub off with a mild bleach and dish soap solution? How is the ventilation in that part of the house?

Looks a lot like my dining room ceiling, which was bone dry but had mold spreading all over it due to poor ventilation and lack of use (of the room).

Marmitelover55 Tue 10-Feb-15 12:45:44

We had something similar in one of bedrooms. It was dry. Think we painted over it with pva and then paint. Might have come back though will have to check tonight!

hereandtherex Tue 10-Feb-15 12:48:33

As this is an active thread, can I say how much I appreciate PigletJohns input.

What are your favourite building + DIY books (not decorating)?

PigletJohn Tue 10-Feb-15 15:55:13

The Readers Digest DIY book is very good. I don't know if it is still printed, but you will usually find a copy in a charity shop. It has a hard red plastic cover. I believe there is a similar AA book. "Which" used to publish DIY books (they may be at your local library).

I haven't read a DIY book in years. I sometimes read technical publications.

PigletJohn Tue 10-Feb-15 15:57:26

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