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  1. #1
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    Feb 2011
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    Default Water drips from ceiling but no rain outside

    We have a vaulted ceiling in the living room that has tongue and grove wood planks instead of sheet rock. During the winter will have stains appear on the planks and on the floor from water drips. The roof is new (less than 4 years old) and we have had the roofers back to check for errors multiple times. The roof deck seemed solid when the new roof was installed. The house was built in 1988.
    Canít really get up into the space above the ceiling to see if there is proper spacing between the insulation and the roof deck for air flow. The problem seems like warm air condensing on a cold surface but is there any way to rule out or in this scenario without removing the ceiling? If this is the problem can the problem be fixed without removing the ceiling?

  2. #2
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    Feb 2011
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    Default Re: Water drips from ceiling but no rain outside

    It could be condensation, but I doubt this is the case, as it would have to be a LARGE amount of condensation to create the problem. I think you would have to have a gym to create enough condensation to cause stains on the ceilings. Based on a couple of cabins I've built using tng on the ceilings it is always the roofing that has caused our problems. The roofing gets old, some relative goes nuts with the pressure washer (we have moss issues here), and poor construction on my part normally causes the leaks.

    If I were you I would have someone else other than the roofers themselves inspect the roof and how well it is sealing. I would also go up on the roof yourself (if possible) to see if you can find any problems and caulk them.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Water drips from ceiling but no rain outside

    Quote Originally Posted by wecurtis View Post
    We have a vaulted ceiling in the living room that has tongue and grove wood planks instead of sheet rock. During the winter will have stains appear on the planks and on the floor from water drips. The roof is new (less than 4 years old) and we have had the roofers back to check for errors multiple times. The roof deck seemed solid when the new roof was installed. The house was built in 1988.
    Canít really get up into the space above the ceiling to see if there is proper spacing between the insulation and the roof deck for air flow. The problem seems like warm air condensing on a cold surface but is there any way to rule out or in this scenario without removing the ceiling? If this is the problem can the problem be fixed without removing the ceiling?
    It surprises many people to learn that it is relatively rare that the water source is from the outside, although it could be due to bad flashing or ice damming. Much more common is that warm moist air escapes from the house below into the space between the ceiling and roof.

    This moisture laden air moves towards the vents but hits the freezing cold roof before getting to the vent and deposits its moisture. The ceiling is not well enough sealed and too much moisture leaks into the attic for the cold climate to handle.
    Low drying capacity, not the same as high relative humidity, is a measure of the absolute amount of water that air under certain temperature and humidity conditions can accept before reaching saturation. Did you get that?
    Or more simplified yet, cold air does not dry out water problems as fast as warm air will.

    Below freezing temperatures and well insulated attics mean that water vapour quickly freezes (frost, not condensation). Ice evaporates more slowly than water, slowing down still further the drying process in the attic.
    Uninterrupted periods of time under these conditions lead to serious accumulation of frost. If the above conditions exist, but are interrupted by occasional warm spells, the small accumulations we be carried off during the warm spells and you will have no problem. If there are no warm breaks a small leak can become a serious problem. However, when the frost build up is high and the outside temperature warms rapidly all that frost melts and drips water down toward the ceiling --- this is where many folks think the roof is leaking.

    Where does this moisture laden air get into the attic?

    Through light fixtures. Through plumbing chases. Through electrical holes. Through cracks in the top of partition walls. Through any hole in the ceiling. Bathroom fans that do not exit outside are serious sources of moisture.

    Serious moisture problems have to be solved by cutting off the source of moisture -- sealing the house at the level of the ceiling. If you could see in the attic on a freezing cold day -- you would see the frost accumulation because it will be white. If what you see is generalized all over -- you have a generalized problem. If you see a cluster of it, look almost straight down and you will usually find a light fixture or some other hole to the house below. Seal off that hole so that the air cannot get into the attic, and you will cut off the moisture and not have to worry about trying to ventilate the moisture out.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Water drips from ceiling but no rain outside

    I agree that the water drips are probably a humidity problem but my real question is what to do with the wood plank ceiling? We donít want to cover it over, really like the look, but I donít really want to replace it if I donít need to just so I can put a proper vapor barrier. Could buy a couple of cases of clear caulk and rent staging but will that be a real solution? As I look up at the ceiling I can see that the wood has shrunk and in some places the tongues are nearly completely exposed. Not sure if I just answered my own question but comments would be at least comforting. Just as a note the ceiling is a vaulted ceiling with no classical attic above it. The ceiling goes all the way up to the beams that form the structure of that side of the house.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Water drips from ceiling but no rain outside

    Quote Originally Posted by wecurtis View Post
    I agree that the water drips are probably a humidity problem but my real question is what to do with the wood plank ceiling? We donít want to cover it over, really like the look, but I donít really want to replace it if I donít need to just so I can put a proper vapor barrier.
    Unfortunately you then have a dilemma.
    Either the wood is removed or cover the wood to correct things. You may be successful in removing the boards safely and then reapply them after correcting things.


    Could buy a couple of cases of clear caulk and rent staging but will that be a real solution? As I look up at the ceiling I can see that the wood has shrunk and in some places the tongues are nearly completely exposed. Not sure if I just answered my own question but comments would be at least comforting.
    To be honest , trying to apply clear caulking is going to look like , well , you applied clear caulking ---- not very appealing in my opinion.

    Besides, it's not really a proper solution. As you mentioned there are gaps between the boards , wood moves --- expands and contracts. So, because there are gaps moisture is getting in behind the wood and contacting a colder surface --- creating the issue you have. Also, because the wood moves the method you propose using caulking will eventually look awful.

    There's no silver bullet to correct the issue here --- you really need to do it properly or it will continue to give you grief and will cost more money down the road to fix damage from moisture.

    A couple of suggestions come to mind ----------- remove the t&g ceiling and apply rigid foam insulation ( well sealed at all joints ) then reapply the salvaged t&g.

    Or ------

    Apply the rigid foam over the existing t&g and cover over with new wood or drywall --- whic ever suits your fancy.

    The rigid foam ( well sealed ) will eliminate the problem by keeping the warm moisture air from contacting the colder surface and condensing --- also it will enhance your overall R value of the ceiling.




    Just as a note the ceiling is a vaulted ceiling with no classical attic above it. The ceiling goes all the way up to the beams that form the structure of that side of the house.
    I understand your ceiling construction -- generally you have a cathedral ceiling in that there is no *attic*.
    Most of the previous information posted earlier was in general terms which cam also occur in homes with *attics* . However , in cases like yours that have cathedral ceilings ,the situation is worse since the roof structure is part of the interior ceiling. In other words, you don't have the advantange of the *attic* as a buffer to seperate the roof / ceiling structure.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

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