Warm Spot on Interior Wall: Possible Causes?

leafy02February 13, 2010

I'm a little worried right now. Tonight, my husband asked me not to store bread on top of the breadbox because "the wall is really warm there and it makes the bread dry and hard". Apparently, he's been aware of this heat for some time, but I had no idea what he was talking about. Putting my hand on the wall there, yes, it was warm to the touch, and I can't figure out why.

The spot is about six inches above the kitchen counter in an interior wall. On the kitchen side, there is an outlet about 20 inches to the right of the spot, and it is not warm anywhere around that outlet. On the opposite side of the wall is the living room, and the spot feels warm there, too. There are no heat vents in the wall, there is an air intake vent up near the ceiling in the living room side, but the warm area isn't directly below it or anything.

Any ideas what the warm spot could be?

The house was built in 1969 and appears to have always been well-maintained.

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Heating duct would be my guess. Turn on the AC and see if it gets cold.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 10:43AM
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Thank you Joed. I experimented this morning by turning off the heat. The wall did cool down. I went to the basement and looked at the furnace location relative to the warm spot on the wall, and the furnace is directly below, with that silver chimney kind of ductwork going up pretty much where the warm spot is on the floor above.

But the warm spot is just about dish-sized--it isn't a warm line going from floor to ceiling the way I would imagine that duct running up the wall to vent out the top of the house or whatever--so, does that mean there is a leak in the duct that's making the warm spot? Should I be worried?


    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 11:44AM
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"...does that mean there is a leak in the duct that's making the warm spot? Should I be worried?"

More likely the duct is slightly deformed at that point and touching the drywall or there could even be a joint in the drywall and compound was pushed between the duct and the drywall when the joint was finished.

It could be a joint that is leaking, but the only way to really tell for sure is to cut open the drywall and examine the duct.
Drywall patching were the stud cavity is filled with a duct is slightly more difficult since wood cannot be added to span the opening.

You must clean off half the stud edge to mount the patch onto.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 2:02PM
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It sounds to me that you're talking about the furnace FLUE ("that silver chimney kind of ductwork") not the warm-air supply ducts (I assume it's a natural gas- or propane-fired furnace). The flue carries the combustion products (i.e., the "exhaust" produced by burning the gas) up and out of the house. With older, lower-efficiency furnaces, the flue can get really hot, although it's required to be double-wall construction (a pipe inside another pipe) when traveling through walls, for safety.

Have you hired an HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) guy to come check it out? That's what I would do.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 2:12PM
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I'm curious what the outcome was. Care to update us? Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 8:46PM
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The outcome is only that I moved the breadbox. We haven't had anyone out to look at the HVAC and it's about number three on the list after the wet floor in the basement and the bad flashing around the chimney. Yeah, it's been a great month!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 10:42PM
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