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jillbugg 07-15-2011 04:10 PM

Water Stains on wall by floor - is it plumbing, roof, siding or other issue?
Hey All!

My Husband and I own a townhouse for almost 5 years now, and have noticed a strange leak. We've had plumbers and contractors come and look at the problem and "fix it", only to see the leak is back in 6 months.

The weird thing to me is that the walls are wet only in the stairwell? not on external walls, and also not on the ceiling, only from the floor molding and up about 6-12 inches. Additionally odd, is that the carpet and floors have never been wet. only the walls. They are only damp on and off, and with no real pattern that I can notice, like, after the tub is used or after it rains.

Anyone had or seen a similar problem? if so how was it resolved. All advice welcome! Thanks!

nealtw 07-15-2011 05:13 PM

It must be a small amount of water sitting inside the wall cavity and just slowly soaking the drywall. The drywall that is wet should be removed and inspected for mold and if there is plumbing the that wall I wood be looking for a nail or screw into the pipe, a roof leak should show in the attic, wet insulation. You will have vapour barrier above the drywall ceiling that can hold the water back untill it finds a hole for wiring or plumbing which would put the water into a wall.

oldognewtrick 07-15-2011 10:08 PM

Do you share common walls with other units that are exposed above the roof of your unit? Has the plumber/contractor checked the plumbing vent pipe roof flashing? What type of roof is over your unit? Are there units above yours? Does this occur even if it hasn't rained? What plumbing fixtures are above the leak area?

I guess we really need more info...oh and welcome to House Repair Talk!

jillbugg 07-16-2011 06:11 AM

Yes, we share walls. It structured that 4 units make a square, and meet in the middle. So I share 2 walls with 2 other units. Does that make sense? No units above or below, its a 3 floor town house.

It seems to be wet a few days after it rains, and not while it rains, but sometimes, it can stay damp for many days.

I hope I explain this right, but the stairwell is the area with the wet walls. We have 3 floors. The top floor has the most wet spots, and the half way down the stairs landing has a wet spot thats growing very slowly. There is a full bath on the top floor.

The contractor is stumped. He doesn't think its plumbing, and has a suspicion that its a siding issue? I'm going to have a roofer come look and get a second opinion. Replacing the siding would be a very expensive experiment.

We have shingles for the roof. I will look into what kind. I'm not 100% sure. The roof are going to be replaced in 2012-2013 as a part of our HOA contract.

oldognewtrick 07-16-2011 06:58 AM

Jill, seeing as how you have a shingle roof, the most likely sources of water infiltration will be damaged or missing shingles. Plumbing vent pipes where the rubber seal has failed, damaged or missing flashing in the wall where the roof meets the side wall. Siding that may have become compromised. A chimney, if you have one.

I would suggest calling a professional roofer to inspect the outside for failures to any of the above areas. It may require taking a hose up on the roof and water testing to re-create the water issues. If this is required you work from the bottom up testing each area before you move higher on the structure. Anything may or can be a source of a leak, even plumbing.

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