I'd rather prefer it if my ceiling didn't fall in.
March 19, 2010 6:03 PM   Subscribe

Small dark spot on ceiling wasn't there before. Should I be immediately concerned?

I've lived here for three years, and the spot is in a location where it can't be missed, so it's clearly something that's appeared over the course of today. I'm in a third floor apartment of a three floor building, so I don't have anyone above me. The place is fairly well-constructed and has never given me any trouble in the past.

The spot itself feels markedly cold to the touch (compared to the surrounding ceiling) and slightly damp. There's a small indention near the center which flexes some if I poke it with my finger. In all, the spot is about the size of a half dollar, which hasn't changed any. The shape seems to have changed from being more circular to being more ovoid, however (assuming my eyes aren't simply playing tricks on me). It's in an internal location, far away from any outside walls or windows and about 2' from the nearest interior wall.

The current outside temperature is 21F and the indoor temperature is 73F. We got 14" of wet snow today. I'm running a humidifier; assuming the humidifier's humidistat is functioning correctly, the inside humidity should be somewhere between 30% and 40%.

The question, I suppose, is: am I staring at leak in the making, in which case I need to make an emergency maintenance request ASAP (emergency, since it's the weekend and all), or could this simply be a spot of condensation that'll go away on its own once the weather returns to normal?
posted by jal0021 to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Best answer: You have a leak in your roof. Call the super pronto. And put a bucket under it in case it starts to come through.
posted by crazylegs at 6:06 PM on March 19, 2010

Best answer: All the signs point to this being a leak in progress. You should get it fixed as soon as possible. It's probably not such an emergency that needs to be done over the weekend, but you should definitely schedule something for Monday.
posted by scrutiny at 6:09 PM on March 19, 2010

You should probably stick a screwdriver into the hole and drain any water that may have accumulated or be accumulating. Better to drain it all at once than have it sit up there, soaking. Plus, it's fun.
posted by tybstar at 6:31 PM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the quick responses.

I made the call to the emergency number and got a call back from one of on-site maintenance people a few minutes later. He said it might be a leak, but it would require calling a contractor out to take a look in the attic (they're not allowed to do it themselves, apparently), the earliest of which would be on Monday. In the mean time, he suggested I watch it and, should it start dripping water, poke a hole in the ceiling (as tybstar suggests) and place a bucket underneath. Thankfully, it's an open area with nothing underneath.
posted by jal0021 at 6:41 PM on March 19, 2010

Once the underlying issue is taken care of, you may find that you can get rid of the stain by wiping with bleach.
posted by Morrigan at 6:45 PM on March 19, 2010

certainly keep your eye on it. it can go from a drip... ... ... ... drip... ... ... ... to OMG GET A TARP AND A BUCKET BRIGADE in less than an hour, depending on how old the place is and how big the actual leak causing your damp spot is.
posted by radiosilents at 6:46 PM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you have any family photos, electronics, or anything else of value in that room, it'd be a good idea to relocate them just in case. Better safe than sorry.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 8:34 PM on March 19, 2010

Find out where the shutoff valve for your water supply is located, and make sure it is working. I have seen the result of a split water pipe in the ceiling, and it was not pretty...

You are insured for household contents, aren't you? In that case focus on the photos, momentos etc that cannot be replaced.

If I were in your shoes, I would look for a manhole cover, and stick my head up there to see what I could see. If it has not been raining heavily lately, I would be taking a close look at the water pipes in the vicinity of the spot on the ceiling, and maybe see if I can find the leak and put a bucket or tray under it, depending on the nature and location of the leak/water entry.

Good luck!
posted by GeeEmm at 12:01 AM on March 20, 2010

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