Creeping myself out.
October 19, 2007 1:17 PM   Subscribe

What are these reddish brown stains on the floor of my "vintage" apartment?

I'm not sure if I really want to know the answer to this question but here goes: I live in an old (circa 1920's or older) apartment in Chicago with wood floors. Both this apartment and the one I lived in before (also quite old) had very dark reddish brown stains on the floor when I moved in. In this apartment, they're in the bedroom. The other one was in the bed/living area of the apartment, which was a studio. Both were groupings of several stains of varying sizes, the largest being about a foot in diameter.

The morbid part of me wants to think they're blood stains, but could they just be from a drippy plant or something? Also, why is this apparently so common, if it is blood? As far as I know there hadn't been any murders or anything in either apartment.
posted by Jess the Mess to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
Old water stains on hardwood floors can be pretty dark. (I assume that they're dark because they were left long enough for some mold or something to set in, but I don't know. My experience is limited to having sanded a number of them out.) Or some other fluid — wine, maybe? Cat urine?

But a house built in the 1920s in Chicago having odd stains on the floor is pretty suggestive. I think you should tell your friends they're the blood of dead mobsters, regardless.
posted by hattifattener at 1:29 PM on October 19, 2007

Could be oil from lamps or some sort of heater. It's probably mobster blood.
posted by Eringatang at 1:34 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

My money is on pet stains. Pet urine tends to turn floors dark through chemical reaction, and being a circle would suggest to me that they were under a carpet or rug and soaked in.
posted by true at 1:42 PM on October 19, 2007

The question you should be asking is, where can I find a lab that can take a very small sample of stained wood and determine whether the stain is blood or something else, and how much will that cost me? Perhaps you could ask that one next week. ;)

I guarantee you if this were a wood floor discovered in a hidden panel in some czarist Russian palace, with stains like you describe, they'd have a DNA profile of the blood in 48 hours. You should strive for no less.

I wouldn't get my hopes up, though. Even if it were blood, "shot by mobster" is probably one of the least common causes, statistically speaking, of 20th century Chicagoans' bleeding at home.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:00 PM on October 19, 2007

If you're worried what guests will think, just draw a chalk outline on the floor before they get there and make a joke out of it.
posted by hermitosis at 2:18 PM on October 19, 2007

Another vote for pet stains. Cats especially will pee in the same place over and over again. These types of stains seem very common on all of the house flipping shows to which I've become addicted.
posted by kimdog at 2:23 PM on October 19, 2007

A black light will make cat urine stains stand out brightly. Police forensic examiners use some sort of special viewer and chemical to see blood. You could easily chip out a sample to be tested for blood at a local testing laboratory.
posted by JJ86 at 2:28 PM on October 19, 2007

My Chicago apartment has a stain that sounds similar. My landlord claims that it's spilled battery acid, from the days when they were used to power home radios.
posted by kickingtheground at 3:41 PM on October 19, 2007

animal urine left on hardwood for a long time - say, in a damp rug or piece of carpeting - will stain white and red oak a deep brownish red, almost black. it's impossible to get out without refinishing, as you need to take off sometimes up to 1/16 of an inch - it really soaks in there.
posted by luriete at 3:43 PM on October 19, 2007

The Mobster story is better than anything it could be in reality.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:08 PM on October 19, 2007

Most likely pet stains. That is, pets who were shot by mobsters.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 4:39 PM on October 19, 2007 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I'd be lying if I said I'm not a little bummed at the consensus however I'm sure I'll be glad they're not bloodstains when my fiancé goes out of town and I'm home alone reading horror stories.

I guess in 100 years or so, my cats' pee will be making some other tenant wonder.
posted by Jess the Mess at 6:26 PM on October 20, 2007

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