We have a 1920 cape in NJ. Only lived here 3 years. The previous
owners finished the attic to a master bedroom with a shower. A few
weeks ago I noticed bubbling in the paint in the ceiling downstairs
where the shower is. Got a plumber in and he said the seal around the
shower pipedrain was probably leaking water and he sealed it. However,
the paint downstairs seems to be coming away from the ceiling faster
and in a wider area.
Today I climbed on a ladder and chipped a big piece of the paint from
the ceiling. It doesn't seem most. There's literally about an 1/8th or
more of an inch worth of paint so the paint layer is heavy. The
ceiling seems to be made of something like concrete. I don't know what
else to call it. It's rough and not like plaster (which is what I
expected to find). It doesn't feel particularly most to the touch. I'm
wondering a few things...
1) What might this material on the ceiling be? Can it be concrete?
2) Could the continued sagging paint and cracking be what's left from
the original moisture that got into the ceiling and the paint is just
falling down with gravity cuz now it's loose???
3) How do I find out if there might be wet beams between the shower
stall and the ceiling? I'm concerned I could have water damage in
At NO POINT was there a noticeable leak or water. Just bubbling paint
that seemed like a sign of moisture, but no obvious water.
Not sure if that was all clear but I'll clear up anything that I can.
Girly Girl :)
(1) It sounds like the ceiling is made of plaster, and you are getting
layer separation. The plaster was applied in two layers. The base
coat is the concrete-looking stuff (really, it's not too different
from cement), tan or grayish stuff with visible sand and perhaps
fibers as well. Then the thin white topcoat was put on. What is
coming off is not super thick paint, but rather that top coat of
plaster (plus paint).
(2) Yes it could be that what's happening now is just the
continuation of problems caused by the leak, even though it is no
longer leaking. If you are lucky.
(3) It would be good to investigate whether it is still leaking and
whether there is other damage in there, although the latter is not
that likely. Is there an access panel? Often a shower or bath will
have an access panel in the wall behind it (which might be the back
wall of a closet or something) that gives a look at the plumbing. If
so you can open that and maybe investigate if things are wet in
there. If not, you might have to bite the bullet and cut out a piece
of ceiling below. Or just wait and see what else happens.
(4) There are a lot of ways a shower can leak; from the drain, or the
seal between the wall and the pan, or through small cracks in the
grout between the tile. If it wasn't put in right you can wind up
ripping a lot out and redoing it.
Good luck --- H
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