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Adventures in Home Ownership – Crap, We Got a Leak

As we were doing laundry to go out of town, Mr. BFS looked up to see this staring back at him:

Condensation Spot
Pooper scooper and dang it all to heck and back, we have a leak next to the air vent on the ceiling of the laundry room.  And some mold mildew to add to the party.  Yay.  And yes, I am bleeding sarcasm right now…
Now the question I have is: what is causing this?  Our laundry area is in the garage which has above the garage storage directly over it.  We checked that area and couldn’t find any obvious leaks or drips or water damage, so where did this wonderful piece of crap come from?
As we are heading out of town and it is not soggy to the touch, we will have to look into our options next week.  While we are away, what would you suggest?  Anyone in the Houston area have a handyman they would suggest?  Or ever fixed something like this before?  Have any idea what this could cost us?
UPDATE:  It was mildew, not mold, yay!!!  Thanks to a couple of comments here and a call from my mom, I did a little further investigating and took off the vent cover.  There were no leaks or mildew inside of the compartment or in that very small gap between it and the affected space.  Plus a simple treatment of 10% bleach and water killed off the mildew – changed colors and died right before my eyes.  So yes, it was just the condensation from the vent that oozed next to it on the ceiling.  We will replace that small section of dry wall before moving and will keep an eye on it until then.  This has taught Mr. BFS and I to use the vent in there every single time the dryer is on.  :-)
The only positive I can see is that I now have an idea for a new series.  Anytime I have an issue like this, I’ll post another episode of Adventures in Home Ownership.  If any of you have an issue with your home that you would like to share:
  • Please snap a picture.
  • Describe the issue.
  • Describe the solution and its cost if you know of one.
  • Ask whatever questions of the group that you’d like. 
  • Email all of that to me at budgetingfunstuff *at* gmail *dot* com

Maybe we can all save some money or time down the road.  :-)

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15 comments to Adventures in Home Ownership – Crap, We Got a Leak

  • That sucks!

    I own a home and there is a big problem with that: I’m not handy with anything! If something ever breaks or we need a leak fixed, I’m pretty much worthless. The good thing is that I don’t mind paying somebody to come figure it out.

    Wish I could give you some pointers about the leak, but yeah…all I can tell you is that you have a leak and some mold. But it sounds like you figured that part out. lol.

  • If there’s no obvious leak anywhere else, then my guess is condensation is forming on the vent pipe and dripping down. If the temperature / humidity level in the storage area is such that it would lead to condensation forming, this is your likely culprit. A couple of years back I noticed that one of the ceiling tiles in the basement was getting a water stain. Above that was a vent in the heating system that draws air from the outside. Sure enough it was forming condensation and dripping. I wrapped it in aluminum pipe wrap and it seems to have taken care of the problem.

  • Pull the vent cap off and see if you can see anything.

  • I agree with the beagle… it was likely caused by condensation build-up. I suggest cleaning it up good with bleach (spray with bleach, scrub with a scrub brush, let dry, and repeat for 2-3 days as mold grows in layers and you have to kill the top layer before you can kill the next layer, etc.). Then wait and see if it comes back.

    It is also possible there was some freak water source (maybe a really strong wind blew water down your vent one time?) and it will never happen again. As it is in your garage and doesn’t appear to be wet now, I would wait and see what happens before calling a repair guy.

  • Yeah I have to agree with Work, Save, Live…that sucks. Ah, the ups and downs of homeownership…don’t you just love it? :-) It’s a good thing you guys have a nice emergency fund in place that will take care of this in no time! It’s still sucks though to have to deal with it…what an inconvenience…and right when you guys are about to head out of town. Good luck with that.

  • Hey Crystal, that mold sucks and concerns me for your health! There’s probably more and please be sure that whoever takes care of the mold remediation knows what the heck they are doing-Good luck ;)

  • Ceiling issues really suck. My neighbors just removed the ceiling in their laundry to see that the ducting from the dryer was routed directly into the space between the ground and second floor. All that moisteure from years of drying clothes had created a black mold issue that is VERY expensive to mitigate. Crappy builders!

  • @Everyone, I’ve updated the post with what the problem ended up being. :-)

    @WorkSaveLive, well now we both learned something. If you don’t use the vent, the condensation can cause mildew. :-)

    @Money Beagle, spot on! Our humidity is regularly 90% or more. Thanks!

    @David Hunter, nope, all good inside, yay!

    @Denise, you and Money Beagle were right and it ended up being mildew, so the bleach killed it off fast!

    @Alunda, I am glad we ended up not needing to use the emergency fund after all. :-)

    @Steve Mertz, no worries, it was just the same sort of mildew that grows on our siding – a single treatment of bleach wiped it out. :-)

    @Hunter, from what I could see, we got lucky – just condensation. :-)

  • You are extremely lucky Crystal. This situation could have been a lot worse. My hubby and I had a similar looking situation in our bathroom, but when we went into the attic we discovered that former owners had done some renos in that bathroom and the pipe leading from the bathroom to the roof vent (the black one that goes out through the roof that brings fresh air to your drains and p traps) had been cut and capped off as that pipe was no longer needed. However, they left this dead end pipe on a negative grade where water collects (water in these pipes is normal and just runs down your drains and out to the sewer), freezes in the winter, cracked the pipe and then leaks all over the insullation creating a lovely stinky moldy disgusting mess. This little discovery has chewed several thousand dollars out of our emergency fund. I have pictures!

  • Great idea for a new series Crystal! Now – do you have any tips on how to get that cleaned up (frugally, of course!)

  • These are the types of expense that are bound to keep popping up that have my nervous about transitioning from renting to buying!

    Hope everything turns out okay!


  • Crystal, you just missed my lessons in home ownership. I don’t have a leak, but a company trying to put a cell phone tower in my front year…having to deal with it is so aggravating!

  • That is great news on the update! Would your insurance cover it if you found that it was an actual leak? We were pretty conservative about filing claims. But, we had a bad storm and had to one year. It leads to higher premiums, however…

  • Jack

    Oh the joys of home ownership! At least it was not black mold – I hear that stuff is really dangerous. Glad you got it taken care of.

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