Mystery Dry Brown Ceiling Stains

amateur_homeownerMarch 5, 2013

I live in an old home, built in the 60s. After moving in, I noticed a gradually growing brown patch over the downstairs toilet (which is directly beneath the upstairs toilet). I monitored it, never finding it to be wet or even damp, but it continued to grow until I got concerned about it. I cut about a 6x4 hole into the ceiling, which was sufficient to cut away all of the brown part. The sheetrock was dry and everything in the ceiling up to the toilet and pipes above it were dry. I peered all around, felt all around - nothing! I cut new sheetrock and (badly) patched the ceiling using joint compound and spackle, but did did not repaint it yet. Within six months, light brown stains began to reappear around the edges of the patch that I placed (so that they make a square stain). Now the stains are getting darker and the spackle is flaking in areas under the stain, but the ceiling is not soft or damp at all! Is this some kind of water leak, or possibly something else? Please help this amateur!

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Check the upper toilet seal to the stack.

It is commonly a wax gasket.

If the toilet rocks or moves it WILL break the seal.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 4:58PM
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Excess mop water upstairs can wet the ceiling intermittently.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 6:10PM
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When we had a stain on the ceiling above a lower level toilet that was directly below the upper level toilet we first thought that it was the upper toilet leaking. Turned out it was actually a leak in the boot around the plumbing vent stack on the roof. The boot was easily replaced. Sometimes it only needs new caulking. I suggest you check that out before tearing apart you upper level toilet.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:17PM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

Do not forget, water can migrate over vast spaces.
IE the leak could be 100 feet from the brown spot.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 3:59AM
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An old leak that has been painted over will still bleed through. The leak may have been corrected years ago so it is dry but will still bleed through. White shellac or several coats of KILLS may do the trick

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 8:25AM
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"The boot was easily replaced. Sometimes it only needs new caulking."

A boot that needs ANY caulking is badly designed or installed.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 12:28PM
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