Two yellow stains appearing on living room ceiling

Reply Tue 8 Jan, 2013 11:45 am
I will try to be concise (if I can!). The problem was noticed a few weeks ago, on our living room ceiling, when the stains were very light with light brownish borders - and hardly visible.

Fast forward a few weeks, and while the length of these stains has not appeared to have grown, one of the stains (refer to this as stain #1) is growing more yellow, and is definitely visible (see images attached). Also, there is another stain, but this remains quite faint and hardly visible (stain #2).

Both of these stains run parallel, with stain #1 being approx. 3-5 feet, meanwhile stain #2 is under a foot in length. Stains start several feet from the nearest wall and are several feet apart. While there is a bedroom directly above the living room, and a bathtub/shower, there is no indication that there is water leaking (all caulking is in great shape with no cracks or separations, the floor is ceramic with good grout and the bathroom it self is about 4 feet from where the stains on the LR ceiling begins).

There is good visual access and again, there are no indicators of water leakage or damage. The topside of the ceiling drywall is perfect, no moisture on water or drain pipes, yet my gut tells me that water is collecting here somehow. I believe the thickness of stain #1 is growing slowly and slightly. Visibly it looks like small anaconda snake.

So, any suggestions as to what I should look for? Home is 10 years old. Hopefully the images attached help as visual descriptors to the recent problem.

[AS an aside" It has snowed heavily recently. It is cooler temperatures this time of season. As well, lengthy hot showers are taken. Lastly, the bathroom directly upstairs runs hot water for 5 full minutes to steam up the room, keeping it warm for 4 month baby to take baths. I'm wondering if these are causes?]

Thanks for any feedback or suggestions.
Reply Tue 8 Jan, 2013 12:20 pm
Condensation certainly sounds like a likely culprit.
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Reply Tue 8 Jan, 2013 12:30 pm
Water is likely running from somewhere else along the studs. That is why the stains are straight and parallel. Since the water is running from somewhere the issue is going to be hard to find, but it could be something in the bathroom or condensation. (It seems like the stain is growing pretty fast for condensation.) Are you getting a lot of water on the floor of the bathroom? How about under the toilet?

Also, consider a heater for your bathroom instead of running hot water for five minutes or just do without. Children are not so fragile that they need a preheated room to bath in.
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Reply Tue 8 Jan, 2013 12:30 pm
Water can also run along the ceiling joists for quite a distance and accumulate in the low spots of the ceiling. So leaks are not always directly above the stain.

I saw a house once where the leak came from an exterior window which wasn't flashed properly and entered the house and ran 25' along a joist and then appeared as a drip right in the middle of the living room.

One way to check for something like that is to put a level on the ceiling and see if it's got a low spot and which way it slopes. Then start looking "uphill" from the stain for any source of water.
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Reply Tue 8 Jan, 2013 02:01 pm
What about the water pipes leading to the upstairs bathroom? Hot water pipes could be emitting moisture if they run thru cold air.

Does the stain look like a one-time thing? Look for repeated circles or different colors within the circle of stain to see if there is repeated staining.

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Reply Tue 8 Jan, 2013 10:07 pm
How long have you lived in the house?
How old are the shingles? What's the insulation like? Are there icicles hanging off the roof? Melting/Freezing cycles? Are there depressions in the snow on your roof? Have you shoveled any of the snow off the roof? You could have an ice jam that has lifted some of the shingles and so on..
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