Ask an Expert

By Tom Lopatosky

Where the heck are these water stains coming from?!?!

Possibly one of the most disconcerting feelings of any home or business owner is seeing a water stain popping up on a ceiling within their property.

Water stains and where they actually come from are seldom thought of until they are noticed and a queasy feeling can often set in from there…Where is it coming from?…Do I need a new roof?…Is mold forming up there???…

These are all VERY natural reactions once this phenomena is observed.

So then, what are some possibilities???

There certainly are a number of them, here are several:

The chimney flashing – either where the flashing meets the chimney, how it is tied into the roof, or how it is layered in altogether
The flashing of roof penetrations – roof penetrations could be sewer venting pipes, exhaust pipes, etc. – if the flanges or flashing along any of these penetrations are compromised, this is a prime candidate area for allowing moisture to seep in
Flashing along dormers or built-out areas – the flashing in these areas can often not be installed correctly or perhaps it does not extend far enough on either end of it to properly protect the area
The roof itself – although not as often the culprit as one might think (most often water stains stem from some type of flashing issue), if the roof has just worn beyond its useful life, then water staining could absolutely be coming through “nail pops” in the roof shingles, shingles whose grip or grit has worn away, etc.
The flashing along the edges – drip edge, ice & water shield under the roof underlayments in these areas, etc. – a specific main purpose of these types of safeguards is to help keep water coming in from the edges of the roof; if they do not exist or are not properly installed, one definitely could have a challenge of moisture infiltrating from these points and causing some type of water staining underneath them

As disheartening as discovering a water stain on ceiling areas can be, the source of the water stain is most often one of the items that were reviewed above.

Moisture leaks that lead to water staining can be extremely tricky to pinpoint.

Hopefully this list may be able to shed some light on aiding in identifying potential causes of these frustratingly common annoyances!

About Tom Lopatosky – Tom Lopatosky has run his own carpentry and painting business in Providence since 1995; LOPCO Contracting – the “Personable, Particular Professionals” – specializes in carpentry and exterior & interior painting. Recently LOPCO Contracting was named ‘RI’s Finest Painting Contracting Company’ by ShopInRI Magazine. In 2013, Tom was named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA) and a “40 Under 40” award winner by Providence Business News. He is a member of both the PDCA and RIBA (Rhode Island Builders Association). Tom has weekly ‘Home Improvement Tips’ that air on the radio on 630 WPRO AM (during the weekday morning news) and on television on WPRI 12 (during the Saturday morning news).