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  1. #1
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    Oct 2011
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    Default Baking Soda and Extreme Humidity

    Hello Everyone,

    My wife and I just purchased a 1760 colonial in New England. The weather here is beginning to get quite chilly at nights, and by morning, is in the low 40's. We have no vent fan in the second floor full bath and my wife and I both take hot showers. I do plan on installing a vent fan in the near future, but that isn't the reason for this thread.

    I couple of weeks ago, we found a dead mouse in the bathroom that was stinking it up quite horridly. After I removed the carcass, my wife stuck a box of baking soda to help remove the smell. The box was placed inside the vanity, doors closed.

    A couple hot showers later...

    I am in the kitchen, below that bathroom, and in the plaster ceiling, I see a rather large brown stain appearing. I run upstairs, open the vanity and it is drenched. There are water droplets on everything. The baking soda box is completely saturated, the boards in the bottom of the vanity are wet, as is the false floor below it... likewise, the plaster below that is wet.

    I clean everything out expecting that the faucet is leaking. It isn't. I let it run for a few minutes on hot and cold, checking the valves and drain. No dripping, and nothing remotely close to the level of water expected. Also, at the time of the brown stain being spotted, there was no humidity in the bathroom.

    So, my question (finally) is:

    Can baking soda, when sealed within the vanity, during very humid conditions, absorb so much water that it begins to expel it like a super saturated sponge?

    Thanks,

    Steve

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Baking Soda and Extreme Humidity

    Don't worry about the baking sode. Worry about your mysterious leak.

    Let's see: no humidity, no leak under the sink, but a flood?

    First, find out where this water came from, and if there is a problem, fix it. It could come from a damaged pipe somewhere.

    Then you can deal with the smell.

    BTW, if you continue to take hot shower with no ventilation, be prepared for more unpleasant surprises.
    Last edited by dj1; 10-25-2011 at 09:00 PM.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Baking Soda and Extreme Humidity

    Baking soda is only going to hold so much moisture before it stops absorbing it. Once it's wet, it is NOT going to emit humidity or condensation in amounts sufficient to cause what you have described. My suspicion is that it's either water being spilled down the back of the faucet, which is traveling through the stopper actuator hole or that the overflow has rusted or broken. These are the most common. Look at the underside of the sink at the faucet connections. Does it look like water has had a habit of running down in this area? Check the overflow from the point it leaves the inside of the sink to the point it enters at the drain.

    Another common failure point is the caulking that seals the sink to the counter top. How is the finish on the sink? Has it been chipped off and rusted through, particularly around the lip where it is caulked? If so, the enamel finish could have separated from the sink and is allowing water through there.

    There are other places that leaks can occur, but I'll wait for more input before continuing.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Default Re: Baking Soda and Extreme Humidity

    Thank you for your reply.

    The back of the underside of the sink does have water staining. There is water that trickles out from the back of the faucet on the counter. We have been living in this home for almost a month now and have had several humid occasions in the bathroom as well as used the faucet numerous times. This water leakage has occurred only once. I would love to post a photo of what it all looks like... I just can't yet until I earn 10 posts.

    Connection wise, we have copper piping through out the building for supply and drain. The sink is cast iron and has rusting around the drain connection. The piping from the sink to the copper drain is the 70's style chrome plated trap. The connection between the copper and the chrome has corrosion on it.

    Again, like I wrote in the initial post, I let the faucet run for several minutes with no further leakage, either from the plumbing underneath or from the faucet above.

    I have since shut off the valves as a precaution.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Baking Soda and Extreme Humidity

    Have you plugged the sink, filled with water, then let it drain? Do so and fill it until it flows through the overflow port, this will test the overflow as well as the general health of a sink that is showing obvious signs of being done with life. Pull the plug and look for leaks around the drop tube at the sink, as well as all the connections to the wall.

    Splash water around the base of the faucet really good to test the mounting/seal of the faucet to the sink. Can you move the faucet around on the sink by hand?

    Think back to how the sink was used just prior to noticing the excessive moisture under the sink and the staining below and try to recreate those conditions.

    Before starting any of these tests, wipe all of the inlet and drain pieces down to ensure that everything is dry. Do the tests one by one and not only look for obvious leaks, feel around with hands AND with a paper towel or tissue. You may not be able to see a leak, but you might feel on, and if you can't feel one the tissue is definitely going to show you where it's at.

    I just tackled a leak in my own bathroom where there was no obvious point of leak. By following these steps, I found that the overflow leaks when water gets into it, as well as the drain itself where it connects to the sink. Additionally, the actuator lever for the stopper was leaking where it entered the drain. Some caulk, thread dope, and tightening of parts later and the leaks are gone. The sink will eventually be replaced, but these repairs will hold it until we get around to a new sink.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Baking Soda and Extreme Humidity

    Shutting off your valve makes this bathroom kind of useless...

    I'd definitely solve the leak problem first. As you can see from Spruce's experience, it takes some work to locate a leak and stop it, before it causes major damages.

    Water leaks and damages are homeowner's number 1 concern.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Baking Soda and Extreme Humidity

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1
    Shutting off your valve makes this bathroom kind of useless...
    I'd definitely solve the leak problem first. As you can see from Spruce's experience, it takes some work to locate a leak and stop it, before it causes major damages.
    Water leaks and damages are homeowner's number 1 concern.
    Obviously. I said it was a precaution. I am waiting until this weekend to get on top of it. The water stain has since dried up so I know that the leak is not coming from another source. Shutting the valves seems like the most sensible thing to do until I can get my hands onto it.

    @A.Spruce: I thank you for your well thought out post. I shall try your paper towel trick this weekend. I will post my results. Again, thank you.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Baking Soda and Extreme Humidity

    I decided to forgo the wait and went ahead with the tissue test. water was discovered as a VERY small leak from the cold water valve. We're talking MAYBE a drop an hour. Beyond that, nothing. I have several images for your viewing:

    Kitchen water spot.


    Directly above this water spot is our bathroom vanity.

    Inside the vanity, the drain connecting to the sink basin. Yes there appears to be rust/corrosion, but no leaks.


    Underside of drain connecting to the main line. Yes, corrosion, but no leaks.


    Hot water valve. No leaks.


    Cold water valve. A small droplet is forming in the photo.


    I let the water fill the basin and drain through the overflow. No leaks. I then let it run and observed the drain and inlets. No major leaks. Yes, a drip from the cold water, but nothing substantial.

    So here's what I am thinking. The baking soda container became saturated from humidity. Because it was sitting on a wooden platform, the wood absorbed the moisture from the baking soda container. As the wood took the moisture out of the baking soda (through gravity or simple absorption), the baking soda continued to absorb the moisture out of the air. And a cycle started. There is no way that the little drip from the cold water valve was enough to cause that much water staining in the first photo.

    Reviewing the events of that day that this all occurred:
    1. Wife places baking soda under vanity on Saturday afternoon.
    2. I take a shower.
    3. Next morning, wife takes her shower and brushes her teeth.
    4. I take a shower and brush my teeth.
    5. 8 to 10 hours pass, then we see the water stain in the kitchen.

    That's it.

    What are your thoughts?

    I have the water turned back on, and as a precaution, I have left a plastic pan under the sink.
    Last edited by Doughboyea; 10-27-2011 at 09:15 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Baking Soda and Extreme Humidity

    The pictures do help.

    Picture #1: The stain in the ceiling is smaller than what I expected based on your initial description. It won't be very difficult to treat.

    Pictures #2 and #3: Some corrosion in the drain pipes, but you say that you saw no leaks.

    Picture #4: looks good.

    Picture #5: Try to tighten the nut where you notice a small drop, but don't over do it.

    Check the catch pan over a 24 hour period and see how much water dripped.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Baking Soda and Extreme Humidity

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    Picture #5: Try to tighten the nut where you notice a small drop, but don't over do it.

    Check the catch pan over a 24 hour period and see how much water dripped.
    My thoughts exactly! Start by turning the valve full on (tight to stop ), then back it off 1/4 turn. Now tighten the nut behind the handle by 1/8 or 1/4 turn. You only need to turn the nut enough to stop the leak and no more. Over tightening the nut will result in a valve that is too stiff to turn and cannot be adjusted later as the rubber washer wears or hardens.

    IMHO, the leak was the primary issue with the staining and other visible water issues, not humidity. A couple of the other pictures suggest leaks or the potential for leaks, so don't rule them out. The washer under the flange nut on the drain is fairly rusty, there is probably something going on there, or at least a previous leak, for rust to appear in that amount.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

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