Plaster and Water don't Mix
Drip, drip, drip.
Its just a little drip, every now and then, so we'll get to it sometime....right?
Sometimes water damage is a big deal, like when a tree branch crashes through the roof in a storm, or a water pipe bursts, or a drain pan for your ac condenser overflows. Then its something we address.
But those slow, intermittent leaks, like whe a nail is popping up out of the roof, or the flashing is beginning to fail? All you may see is a little bit of staining or darkness and when the rain stops, it drys up. No big deal....we we let it go.
Or worse, we simply paint over it and forget about it.
Unfortunately, it is the constant wetting and drying out, not bad enough to put pans on the floor to catch the overflow, that rarely catches a customer's attention. And so the leak goes unaddressed.
But it is this regular soaking that really weakens plaster over time and even causes the wood lath or framing to rot, all tucked behind the scene of an apparantly small problem.
If you are getting a wet ceiling every now and then, don't ignore it. Neglecting to address the cause of the intermittent leak can lead to a major repair one day.
What are the most common sources of water leaks?
1). Failing chimney or siding flashing
2). Failing (cracked or leaking) rubber or lead 'boots' around a vent pipe (ususally coming out of a roof over a bath or kitchen)
3). Roofing nails that back up (these can be visible from the ground with a pair of binoculars)
4). 'Valleys' that get clogged with debris
A good roofer can ususally find and address all of these things reasonably.
5) Occasionally you can have an intermittent leak from the plumbing of an upstairs bathroom. It may only happen when the tub overflows onto the floor, water goes through the overflow valve or when the toilet is flushed.
A plumber may need to make a few exploratory holes in the walls or ceilings to trace out the problem and fix it, but it is worth doing, before the damage requries a major repair.
Remember, plaster and water don't mix! Plaster can stand an occasional deluge and perhaps only have some peeling paint or loose topcoat...but let the damage continue drip by drip, year after year and you'll be sure to have a more substantial repair.