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Something Black on inside of ceiling

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distance1323

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Apr 21, 2016
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Bought a house on Monday and the electrical work has started with installation of new light fixtures. The electricians told us today that every cut they are making in the ceiling has black stuff on the top (see picture attached).
The other issue is that the ceiling has 2 Sheetrock sheets which makes the cuts a lot harder to do.
Any help figuring out what this black stuff is would be appreciated.
We had 2 house inspectors in before the house was bought.
We hope it's not mold and I really think it isn't.
We do have an open fireplace but this doesn't smell like smoke but it comes off like old smoke ash.
Thanks
 
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