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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here’s the situation: About a year ago we started to see a ceiling tape joint, in the basement of one of our customer's, open-up from what appeared to be water damage (see the first picture taken on 05-08-13). The damage is near the fireplace (on an exterior wall). Directly above this area is the family room. It has a fireplace with hardwood floors. The fireplaces are stacked directly above each other (see second pic of family room fireplace).






We look in the family room for any signs of water. Drywall is dry, flooring is in perfect condition. We go outside to check flashing at roof/chimney – nothing. Check window caulking – perfect. We can see no water entry point outside. We decide to leave it and monitor it.

On 5-16-13 it starts to rain – nice steady rain. It rains through the night into 5-17-13. On 5-17, I go to the house to check the ceiling – Nothing! Dry as a bone. I even put my moisture meter on it – dry!

After that, I basically forgot about it until March of this year when I’m at the house for a meeting with the homeowner. I go down to check the ceiling (see the third picture.) The tape joint damage is nearly twice as big – it is dry at the time.



Talked to the homeowner and decide that the next time I’m there, I’m going to cut a hole in the ceiling to see what’s going on up there. Note: it’s dry when it rains. Damage seems to be happening over the winter (when the upstairs fireplace gets used). I’m now suspicious that possibly the gas line supplying the family room fireplace may be condensating and dripping to the ceiling below.

The fourth picture is what it looks like with the hole cut. The corrugated is the fire pan for the family room fireplace. There is a 1/8” hole in the corrugated directly above where the ceiling damage first appeared. The hole seems to be maybe a missed screw or something like that. There are actually several of them, but only one that seems to be causing trouble.



Right now, my best guess is that water is collecting between the corrugated pan and the floor above. It drips through this hole in the pan slowly and over time beats-up on the tape joint.

Any guesses as to what’s causing it and/or a plan of action?

Paul
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The damaged area would be to the right of the chimney by approx. 8 feet. Looking at the family room photo (2nd pic), the damaged area is near the window on the right. I’ve checked the window and everything looks good. The gas shut-off key for the family room fireplace is in the floor under that window and just about where the damage is.
 

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Im confused the damage is 8ft to the right of the chimney yet you can see the hearth extension below?

My guess was water or moisture from condensation leaking into the air space between the flue and the masonry then running down till it hits something.

Now I wonder if the customer is drying wet cloths or shoes on the hearth during the heating season and become slowly noticable after that.

On another note is there a basement bathroom fan or duct possibly leaking into the joist chase?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Im confused the damage is 8ft to the right of the chimney yet you can see the hearth extension below?
I’m confused also! Look at the family room pic. The mantle is attached to the brick wall (now covered in drywall) and is shifted way right. You can also see a small cabinet door to the right of the fire box. Picture the basement fire box directly below this small door.

Each fireplace has its own flue which merges into one exterior chimney. I’ll see if I can I can find a picture of the exterior of this wall – it would help explain. But even with a better picture, I too am confused about the corrugated fire pan extending that far to the right.

My guess was water or moisture from condensation leaking into the air space between the flue and the masonry then running down till it hits something.


This explanation or the gas line itself condensating is my thought as well.

Now I wonder if the customer is drying wet cloths or shoes on the hearth during the heating season and become slowly noticable after that.
Not likely. The family room hearth is raised and I don’t see the customer drying clothes this way.

On another note is there a basement bathroom fan or duct possibly leaking into the joist chase?
The basement is not used much – fireplace probably never. The bath, or any other exhaust fan is on the other side of the house and vents directly out.
 

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Radical Basement Dweller
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I hate leaks.
I have a customer that added a third floor to his beach house 20 years ago. Everything has been fine until 5-6 years ago. I'm down there probably 3-4 times per year with different leaks.

Just a thought though....I made a repair which has been fine through heavy rainfall. This winter, when temps stayed in the teens for a week or so, I noticed a small leak again in the ceiling (same spot). I tore out the portion of ceiling and kept an eye on it and can't get it to leak again to save my life. All I'm left with is ice forming and affecting the integrity of the sealant used.

Any colder than usual weather out there that could be affecting things?
 

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You might want to pull a few course of that vinyl siding off the brick ledge and look at it all. You have that brick slope draining into a window then a ledge. Depending on the strength of the rain and the direction of the it blowing could be the factor.

It can't be serious, just a small pesky, periodic drip.
 

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Radical Basement Dweller
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Yeah, between the chimney slope and the brick under the window, it seems a good place for water to collect in that corner.
 

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Oops,maybe Hardy. I still lean toward siding transitions though. Could add a flavor of what Robie says, being season contracting and sealant reacting.
 

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I agree with Tom, it could definitely be the flashing issue at the brick siding transition. Like he said it could be a small ass leak, pain in the ass to pin-point, but enough to cause this issue.
 

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Maybe that joist cavity is open on an end (eg. at the utility area, maybe) and conditioned air is getting up there, then condensing. Just a thought. (Especially if there was any air leakage to the outside, as well).
 

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Drywall Slave
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Yeah, between the chimney slope and the brick under the window, it seems a good place for water to collect in that corner.
I agree with Tom, it could definitely be the flashing issue at the brick siding transition. Like he said it could be a small ass leak, pain in the ass to pin-point, but enough to cause this issue.
And rain water saturating the brick.

I've seen the same thing happen to a new home ..I was half way through with the finishing and the rain water was coming in at the same area..It had a very similar chimney , They re-flashed and caulked etc...But the water kept coming In...They ended up spraying a sealer on the brick. Then the leak stopped! Just my 2 cent!
 
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Drywall Slave
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Off topic! I bought my home [new] In the summer of 1999 There was a drought in the months leading up to finish of the home. After moving in the rains came down pretty hard and the crawl space filled with water..[just around the footers]...The water only came in when It rained! The G/c ?? [I won't get into that!:whistling]

After a few months of thinking the rain water was the problem...I shut off all the water supply to the house and checked the pressure gauge at the well pump ..I was losing pressure ...Turns out There was a pin hole in the well line that was on a down hill slope towards the house ... The well water had saturated the ground next to the house all it needed was a little push! A good heavy rain was all the push It needed . I fixed the well line ,and The crawl space has been dry ever since.


The old saying Is ...'It only leaks when It rains' Is kinda true.:laughing:
 

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I'm The BOSS
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I was thinking condensation on top of the corrugated sheet.

But then saw the chimney ledge heading right at the window.

check siding around the window. check for an open mortar joint also.
That got me one time on a roof job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
You might want to pull a few course of that vinyl siding off the brick ledge and look at it all. You have that brick slope draining into a window then a ledge. Depending on the strength of the rain and the direction of the it blowing could be the factor.

It can't be serious, just a small pesky, periodic drip.
“Pesky”! This thing is starting to piss-me-off! I hate finding leaks! :censored:

I’m headed back there on Monday. I’ll check the transition thoroughly.
 
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