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NewOwner2 02-07-2011 10:06 AM

Source of Ceiling Leaks Can't Be Identified
Only a year ago, I inherited 1/2 of a duplex in Florida. Both my unit and that of my neighbor has a clay tiled roof. This is a single-story ranch, 2-bedroom, two bath home, with a small attic above the entire unit.

About six months ago, water stains started to appear in almost every room of the home's ceiling (except kitchen, bathrooms, closets, and laundry). All stains have appeared in ceiling areas nearest outer walls, with a couple of exceptions: there is a stain in one bedroom ceiling that isn't on the outside wall (but it isn't exactly in the middle of the room either); and another stain has appeared adjacent to a ceiling vent in the foyer.

A number of roofers have looked at the problem and all are quick to want to replace the roof. However, having known the previous owner, I know the roof is not old and shouldn't need to be replaced. Further, I can't replace the roof because my neighbor insists he has no leaks in his unit and is unwilling to replace his roof (HOA requires a new roof on both units for an exact match).

A personal inspection in attic has revelaed no leaks in the roof and the lumber flooring found in various parts of the attic are not wet. There is no visible presence of water or water beads or dripping water anywhere. Nonetheless, it seems as if there is some condensation in the air . . . coming from somewhere.

There are vents under the eaves of the home, around the full perimeter of the house, and the home is air conditioned, with an air handler located in the attic.

I'm not sure the problem is the roof so, I'm seeking thoughts and ideas on what other problems might cause ceiling leaks (besides the roof) . . . and possible next steps?

Thanks, in advance, for any response.

oldognewtrick 02-07-2011 01:24 PM

Welcome to House Repair Talk. It's hard to pinpoint a leak over the internet, post some pics of the exterior, and the attic/underside of the roof deck if you can. Leaks can come from cracked or broken roof tiles, improper flashing around any penetration, a wall area, a valley area or plumbing pipes. You say you have an air handler in the attic, have you checked that the evaporator tray is not overflowing?

nealtw 02-07-2011 02:09 PM

The evaporator tray should have a overflow pipe that could be plugged up, you should have vents near the peak of your roof also. Have you been using your air conditioning lately. Check the drywall condition on the attic side, you could expect proof of water there. You might want to check the humitity in the house. Do you run the bathroom fan long enough?

NewOwner2 02-08-2011 09:13 AM

Source of Ceiling Leaks Can't Be Identified
4 Attachment(s)
Thanks for your responses. I've uploaded some pix that help you see that leaks are mostly in areas where ceiling and wall meet, with the exception of leaking around vent in foyer. No photos of outside are possible at this time.

I don't know what an evaporator tray and an overflow pipe is, but I'll investigate. Can these cause leaking in multiple rooms throughout the house?

Roof was recently sealed and there are no cracked/broken tiles or visible damage to roof (which is why I don't think the roof is the problem).

The AC is on a very low setting most of the time. Bath fan is operable and used, but there are no water marks on bathroom ceilings.

No sign of water or leaks on any walls (drywall), it's only on the ceilings.

joecaption 02-08-2011 09:21 AM

Bathroom or dryer vent not running to the outside, no soffit vents and no gable vents can cause this.

CharlieO 02-08-2011 10:02 AM

A couple of things I would do are.
The evaporator tray is under the air handler and will have a 3/4 to1 " pipe leading from it to the soffit area, see if that is draining out ( could be clogged).
Peel back the insulation above where the stains are to determine if the drywall is wet as mention by neiltw, so you know if its coming from the top or not.
Check all A/C ducts for air leaks that can cause condensation in the attic.
Make sure the insulation is not blocking air flow from the soffit vents to the upper vents(ridge, roof or gable) which ever you have.

nealtw 02-08-2011 11:49 AM

The unit in the attic cools the air to be returned to the house. when you cool moist air it can not hold the water witch condenses and should drain outside. If this overflows and if you have poly above the drywall it can travel great distances before it finds staple holes and may run outside the poly on the exterior wall.
This is what we are all thinking.

oldognewtrick 02-08-2011 01:09 PM

What type of roof do you have (flat/sloped) and how was it sealed? Is the vent for the bath fan vented outside?

NewOwner2 02-08-2011 07:46 PM

Wow! Thank you all so very much for your input. To answer some of your most recent questions:

The roof is sloped but I can't tell you how it was sealed. There are vents in the roof, including that of the bath fan; and older looking soffit vents are found around the outside perimeter of both units. The dryer vents through the garage so I don't think this is an issue. Attic insulation is a white, loose, pellet-looking material (size of a dime or smaller?; not wet and no sign of dampness).

Now, let me throw this out . . . is there any way the water could be coming from the neighbor's roof/side of the duplex?

It's all so complicated! Thanks again to all of you for your replies and interest in helping.

CharlieO 02-09-2011 07:09 AM

Not likely coming from the other roof!
its blown in insulation. This needs to be pushed a way where the water stains are to see if the ceiling is wet or stained on the top to know if its from the top or excessive moisture in the living area.

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