mysterious water in the floor

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I posted earlier, i still can't figure out how water is getting into my floorboards. The floorboards get wet at the cracks, as if water were seeping along the tongue and groove channels, in an area about 3' by 2', and it seems to be associated with rain, though I'm not sure of that. The floor is above ground level but not by very much.
However, there's a staircase going down to the basement between the part of the floor that's getting wet and the outside wall! So it's hard for water couldn't be coming from the outside wall.
There's an inside wall near that area, and the water heater vent runs up to the roof inside the wall. I thought maybe there's a roof leak near the water heater vent. But I just went up into the attic, right after a heavy thunderstorm, and felt around the vent, and everything is dry!
Also the roof vent seems to have a quite adequate cap on it.
So I just don't know. I can look up at the subflooring under that area and it isn't wet. The water heater vent is the only possible water source I can see near that area.
Can water come up from the water heater somehow??? It's an old water heater, is it possible there might be a lot of condensation in there or something?
I'm getting a digital camera, I guess I could post pictures. Of what I don't know.
Any ideas?
Laura
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You don't have radiant heat do you?
Doubt it is condensation. Do water lines run near the area? Baseboard heating system? It may be a tiny pinhole leak in one of those and water is running along a channel someplace. I had an expansion joint leak in my heating system and it took me a week to find the source is it was not visible where the actual leak was.
You mention rain, but if it is above grade I doubt it is water coming up, but possibly down inside a wall.
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No, I don't have radiant heat. The only possible water source I can see there is the water heater vent.
thanks Laura
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when the air is cool and humid so it can be related to rainy conditions. The pipe should slant so that the water drains back toward the heater. The joints should be assembled so that water does not leak out. It is then re-vaporized and carried out the vent once the heater flue and vent pipe warm up good.
You could put some newspaper or paper towels under the vent pipe to see if any water leaks out. Talcum powder sprinkled around will also show up any water drips or seepage.
Don Young
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Quote: pbbl wrote on Mon, 23 June 2008 20:25 ----------------------------------------------------

Could it be that your hot water heater is leaking? I had a tank failure recently and it showed up as a puddle around the tank. Luckily mine was in the garage so no big deal. How old is the water heater? Is it sitting in a drain pan?
-- Richard Thoms Founder - Top Service Pros, Inc. Connecting Homeowners and Local Service Professionals http://www.TopServicePros.com
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Graven Water wrote:

in adjacent room..... even splash while bathing or showering and the water finds a lower spot. Second, a leak in roof or fascia can travel laterally on beams or ducts, or just down an outside wall or plumbing stack.
Another resident in our condo had a very significant amount of water come in through a small gap in exterior fascia. The water came out of the ceiling where she had hooks for hanging plants.
I would inspect all of the inside of the roof, exterior openings and joints, under all plumbing fixtures, inside plumbing access panels. Even a hose faucet, if not caulked outside, might allow water in under certain conditions. Got bottled water stored anywhere?
I found a mysterious puddle of laundry detergent the other day, which seemed to be coming from UNDER the washer. Couldn't figure that one out. When the detergent was all gone, I filled the bottle to rinse out the last of the detergent. and the water ran all over. There was a tiny dent on the bottom of the bottle which had a very small crack open up. It must have sat on the dryer with the little opening such that detergent ran down between washer and dryer.
Good luck, and let us know :o)
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Richard Thomas writes:

The floor where the water is showing up is above the water heater. So I don't know if water can possibly come up from the water heater, except for small amounts of condensation.
Everything is dry around the water heater in the basement. But it's been very humid here recently, and raining a lot.
Laura
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On Jun 24, 6:54 am, snipped-for-privacy@cyberspace.org (Graven Water) wrote:

Do the pets get scared during a thunder storm?
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it came from a H20 source.
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The place where the water is seeping up between the cracks is under where I park my bicycle. For years, I put my bike there in the winter when there was snow on the tires, and it would melt and a lot of water would spill onto the floor. (offroad knobby tires).
But I stopped doing that last winter, at least since last December I didn't park my bike indoors when it had snow stuck onto the tires.
I wonder if it's *possible* that water could have pooled in there somehow, and it seeps up under certain conditions ... Capillary action, and it shows up on humid days. It would have to have been stored in the flooring or somewhere in the building structure for many months though. Maybe it's possible, it's a damp climate here (ny state).
I mentioned the water heater vent goes up to the roof inside an interior wall near this area - but the water doesn't show up until some distance from the wall, it definitely looks more like it's under where my bike sits.
But the underside of the subflooring doesn't show any signs of being wet, under that area.
Laura
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ps I have a good, accurate hygrometer and it says the humidity is 72%.
The cracks between the floorboards aren't actually *wet* - if I run my finger along the area it doesn't get wet. But the areas right next to the cracks are dark with water stain.
Laura
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Pat writes:

No, the darker areas around the cracks come and go, I'm sure it's dampness coming up. It's not shiny or wet to the touch, but maybe damp to the touch.
In the winter it's about 40% humidity though, and one would have thought that any water stored under the floor would have evaporated out during the winter, since water wasn't getting spilled on the floor after December. Although the underside of the floor is the garage ceiling, and it isn't heated and it would be higher than 40% relative humidity in the winter.
I'm thinking maybe the real answer is to get my house dehumidified.
Laura
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On Jun 24, 9:40 am, snipped-for-privacy@cyberspace.org (Graven Water) wrote:

Laura, try this. Put down some corn starch or flour before a rain is predicted. Sprinkle it a little more than lightly in the direction of the grain of the wood, but in both directions. during and after a rain watch for the flour to soak up the water and follow the moister. Clean it up quickly after your done, you don't want bugs. Lou
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Graven Water wrote:

flooring?
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Graven Water wrote:

the wood floor can get wet enough to darken the top surface of the wood and yet not warp or drip below. Is that area of floor noticeably cooler than other areas? I would still check for nearby plumbing that might be situated just so that a little water could run along the tongue/groove to a low spot. Perhaps check the floor with a level to see if the area in question is lower........got me stumped :o)
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Lou writes:

That's a nice idea, but it doesn't get that wet. Just damp enough to stain the wood dark.
Most of the areas that were stained dark this morning when it was 72% humidity are now the same color as the rest of the wood, and the humidity is 62%. So there really is not a lot of moisture in there, if it could evaporate in a few hours!
I could check out my theory that moisture that got trapped in the floor months ago might still be wicking out, by seeing whether the areas get dark when it's just very humid, but not raining.
I'm trying to avoid having to cut a window in the drywall to check if the heater vent pipe is dripping. I'm skeptical that could be the reason, because the darkened areas start several inches from the wall. And the darkened areas are about the length of my bike, and under where I put it.
Also, if it can evaporate away in a few hours, it would seem weird for the water to be traveling along the tongue and groove channel - because that would happen more if there was a lot of water.
I got sick last December, and I stayed sick for 5 months, I was on antibiotics for sinusitis, sinus ct scan, etc.; but the final verdict was "it's allergies". I'm only feeling somewhat better because of a strong steroid nasal spray.
I'm terribly allergic to mold, and the first thing I thought back in December, was that letting snow melt from my bike tires soak into the floor day after day is not a good idea. I was going out on my bike in the snow every day; I didn't do this every day in previous years. Possibly that started a mold colony somewhere :(
Laura
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Thanks everybody - you've been very helpful.
I think most likely it's water that's been stored in the floor long-term, slowly wicking up, and only visible when the humidity is high. Or possibly, rainwater going down the inside of the water heater vent.
There is no other source of water around. No cleaning person, no water lines, nothing like that.
It's summer here now, when the dark stains are appearing.
Laura
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On Jun 25, 3:09 pm, snipped-for-privacy@cyberspace.org (Graven Water) wrote:

Laura, how close to an exterior wall is this? Lou
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i took a picture of the floor. It's raining again. See
http://camoo.freeshell.org/floor.jpg
You can see the darkened places at the cracks. These fade when it dries out. It's next to an interior wall and the darkened areas don't start until at least 6" from the wall. That's why I doubt it would be from a leak in the water heater vent, which is inside that wall. There's a staircase going down on the other side of the interior wall.
I think most likely, that water has soaked into the floorboards and it comes out by capillary action, and when it's humid, you can see it, but when it's dry it evaporates quickly so you don't see it.
Trapped water can take a long time to come out of a building. I read that new construction is damper for a long time, because the wood is still drying out.
I'm not sure about this because I have a good hygrometer and it read about 70% RH last night when it wasn't raining, and the darkened area where the tape w/ arrow is had faded to the same color as the rest of the floor. Now the RH is 73%.
But there is just no other source I can think of.
Laura
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On Jun 26, 6:18 am, snipped-for-privacy@cyberspace.org (Graven Water) wrote:

Laura, water doesn't rejuvenate on it's own. You do have a leak and it is rain water, now you need to find it. If you have a level you need to put it on the floor in at least 3 directions to find the the higher point of the floor. Water runs down hill so this will give you a place to start. If you don't have a level get a bread pan and a glass of water. Slowly pour the water into the bread pan stopping once in a while to let the water settle. Watch which end of the bottom of the pan gets covered first, then look in the opposite direction. Thats probably where the water is coming from. Now, to start, look for an outside wall in that direction. Is there a door, or a window anywhere near that direction? If not, go outside and inspect the siding for a crack, hole, seperation, rot, anything, even screws or nails to hold christmas lights. Let me know what you find. Lou
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