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Thread: Dead air space?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Question Dead air space?

    My bathroom is built under the stairs. Curving stairs are above part of bathroom ceiling, and rising to upstairs hallway.

    In the space where the stairs rise, I suspect there is a small dead air space between the stairs and bathroom ceiling. Over the years paint cracks and peels and black stains appear, just under that space. Sc**** it, fill and paint it, looks great for awhile but after 10 years the problem is back full force.

    If there is a dead air space, I suspect same problem that occurs in uninsulated attics -- moisture is being condensed out the air in winter.

    Has anyone had this problem?

    How did you / how would anyone suggest fixing the paint and stains problem? Do you think I have a space? Any help appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Dead air space?

    the bathroom needs venting.. that will solve the paint issue
    fire up the saw and make some dust

  3. #3
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    Mar 2013
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    Cool Re: Dead air space?

    It is vented. That's why I think it's another problem, such as a hidden space.
    The exterior house walls are not insulated.
    My grandfather built this house!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Dead air space?

    in that case youll have to open up the ceiling and get some insulation in there. damp air is in the void causing the peeling
    fire up the saw and make some dust

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Default Re: Dead air space?

    You could most likely fill that void with unfaced fiberglass or other insulation methods. I assume there aren't any pipes or vents going through that location, both of which can be sources of moisture when you factor in condensation. The other potential issue might be the location of the existing ventilation fan. If the fan is right next to the door, it may just be sucking in air from the hallway rather than exhausting the damp air from the bathroom. You may also consider a timed switch for the fan so it can run for a certain amount of time after you leave the room to ensure it properly ventilates.
    My advice and opinions come from hands on knowledge...and This Old House Hidden Content

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Dead air space?

    Thanks to everyone!

  7. #7
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    Tennessee
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    Default Re: Dead air space?

    I didn't jump into this because I was hoping that you would leave a little more information. Based on what you posted, I don't think anyone can give you a good answer.

    Is the staircase located against an exterior wall? If the bathroom located under the staircase? Do you have high ceilings? Is there a cavity between the back wall of the bathroom and the lower part of the staircase? I am having trouble picturing the "curving stairs" in my mind.

    What I am looking for here is a connection between the basement and the space above the bathroom through a cavity formed by the stringers of the stairs. If there is one, and the dead air space above teh bathroom is against an uninsulated exterior wall, that would explain a lot.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Dead air space?

    The curving portion of the staircase, and the bathroom are against an exterior wall. Specifically, the tub is against the exterior wall.
    The bathroom is located next to the staircase as it goes up, then where the staircase curves and turns into a short hall, that's where the bathroom is located.
    The ceiling in the bathroom is for most part 12 feet high, but over the tub the ceiling is a lower arch. I suspect this was to accommodate the stairs where the curve is at its lowest point.
    There is no opening to the basement that I can find, although I'll suggest to my handyman to also look for it the next time he's here.
    Thanks for your interest!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Tennessee
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    Default Re: Dead air space?

    The uninsulated exterior wall to an open space above the bath, the air in the cavity will be significantly colder than the room temperature, so any moisture that penetrates or permeates through the walls or ceiling will condense in this space.

    I'm not sure the best approach to this, but I think a good start would be to use a low permeable primer before the next coat of paint. Use it under all the paint.

    http://www.sherwin-williams.com/pain...vapor-barrier/

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