LESLIE: Alright. Gayle in Kentucky wants to talk about water marks on her ceiling.
Gayle, what’s happening?
GAYLE: Just in the last year, we have gotten water marks all the way down the hallway, all the way around the edge of the ceiling. It goes out about five inches and just has that ripple water mark but I can’t figure out where it’s coming from.
TOM: Well, not necessarily. If you have a slow-dripping leak that’s working its way in because of a driving rainstorm, it could be just very slowly sort of leaking into your house.
GAYLE: But would it make marks all the way – I mean the hallway is probably …
LESLIE: Yeah, but when your house is quite old, you get quite a bit of settling and it may just be that that is where the house is settled and now you have a sloping grade in that area.
TOM: Gayle, do you have air conditioning ducts in the house?
GAYLE: Yes, and it’s all in the ceiling.
TOM: Well, the other thing this could be is condensation. Because it’s been such a humid year, you could have condensation that’s forming on and inside those ducts and leaking through and basically saturating the ceiling in a line like that; especially if it happens to be under where a duct run is. Does that make any sense to you?
GAYLE: Yes, it does.
TOM: Well, this particular area – this particular summer has been so warm and so humid, more than any before. You know, I got leaks in my own house that never happened before because of condensation.
What you need to do then is you need to have those ducts insulated, if they’re in the attic space, or have additional insulation put around them so that it protects the cold temperature. Because what happens is you have warm, moist air that hits the cold ducts and then they condense, just like water droplets on the outside of a cold glass of lemonade in the summer, and then that will drip down. And you’d be amazed how much humidity can be in the house because of this.
GAYLE: OK, I’ve been in the attic and all the ducts in the attic are wrapped in insulation with black plastic around it, which I’m assuming that’s the way they came.
TOM: Right, but you know there could be additional insulation around it. Also, the air handler unit is probably not insulated. And the other thing you could think about doing is having a whole-home dehumidifier installed. That would be installed as part of the HVAC system and that would take out a lot of moisture. The Aprilaire unit, for example, takes out 90 pints of water a day from the house. But if you were to dehumidify your house, you would probably get less of that.
So two things. It sounds to me more like it’s the air conditioning ducts but, by the same token, you did mention you’re replacing your roof. I bet you one way or the other we’re going to nail this.
TOM: Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.