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Old 05-10-2012, 10:40 PM   #1
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor


I'm renovating a little rancher. In Janurary, i pulled up the living room carpet and noticed some old water stains on the plywood subfloor (1/2" 2x4 handy panels on top of the old hardwood floor, which had been damaged in a fire some 50 years ago) The stains were dry so i didn't pay much attention to them.
In February, one day very suddenly, the spots were wet. I found no leaks in the roof, and the ceiling and attic insulation were dry. There are no pipes underneath the floor, either, and the stains are nowhere near the windows.
The spots dried after a few days, and since my roof wasn't leaking, i put it out of my mind again.
But once in a while, the spots would somehow re-wet themselves. They show up in the same places and patterns every time. It usually happens when we've had, not a heavy rain, but a few days of drizzly weather and high humidity.
I'm pretty puzzled by where the water is coming from.
There is a leak by the front door, and it was once poorly repaired. The wet spots got worse after i removed the old repair, but i don't know how water landing on a step 8" below the door could be travelling up 8" to the plywood and then in 6 feet from the front door to the middle of the room without showing a trail of some kind.
Any ideas what could be causing this? Is it humidity? And if so, how?
And most importantly, how can i safely lay a laminate floor on top of it without worrying about water damage?

I pulled up the plank that had the most water on it and moved it to another room and it seems to be drying more slowly than the other spots. It just gets more baffling!

PS- there are no pets in the house to be causing it, either.
Thanks in advance for any advice!

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Old 05-11-2012, 12:23 AM   #2
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor


Sleepwalking child who decides to pee on the floor? I don't know, I'm just reaching.

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Old 05-11-2012, 12:26 AM   #3
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor


Pictures please.
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Old 05-11-2012, 12:32 AM   #4
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor


Pull up all of the "handy panels" There is no way that is adequate for any subfloor. You need 4 X 8' sheets. What is that over, just floor joists?
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Old 05-11-2012, 05:34 AM   #5
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor


I had that happen once. There were pinhole leaks in a pipe behind a wall. The water worked its way around and showed up on the carpet.
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Old 05-11-2012, 06:39 AM   #6
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor


Is there a light fixture above that spot?

Post some pictures of the entire area, inside and out.
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Old 05-11-2012, 07:01 AM   #7
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor


If not the light fixture then him
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Old 05-11-2012, 01:52 PM   #8
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor


No kids, no pets, no light fixtures, no pipes anywhere near the room.
All pipes are in the basement, and none run under the living room. Only the supply runs under that side of the house, but it's under the other room. And it's not leaking anywhere. So a pipe leak is out.

The panels are not actually the sub-floor. Sorry, that was inaccurate of me. They are covering the former hardwood floor, and underneath that are 2x8 joists. The hardwood floor was ruined cosmetically, but not structurally, in the fire that happened about 50 years ago, so they basically laminated it with these handy panels and put carpet over it.
When i noticed the floor was very wet, i pulled up a panel to see what exactly was underneath. Found the hardwood floor, and even though water had seeped all the way through the plywood panel, the hardwood was dry.

The pics below are from when i first pulled up the carpet. In the 1st you can see its position to the front door, and the 2nd one was taken from the front door. They were dry when the picture was taken, even the darker spots were not wet- just discolored. But once in a while they turn dark brown and feel damp to the touch. There's never been any standing water, but the dampness takes several days to go away with nothing covering it. I'm in NJ. We've had a damp spring, but it's not like southern humidity or anything. I'm getting a dehumidifier today, but i'd sure like to know the source!
Thanks!
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor-living-room-floor-1.jpg   Mystery wet spots on living room floor-living-room-floor-2.jpg  
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Old 05-11-2012, 01:56 PM   #9
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor


infloor baseboard water heat with tubes running under the sub floor?
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Old 05-11-2012, 05:01 PM   #10
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor


Interesting…I’m at a loss and chasing mystery leaks is about half of what I do.

Amazing how the stains seem to follow the traffic pattern from the front door around some furniture and straight into the kitchen.

It looks what my place probably would if I tore up my carpet after years of coming through the door dripping wet.
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Old 05-11-2012, 05:10 PM   #11
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor


Here's a theory. You have very high humidity in the basement (probably because of foundation issues). Your basement isn't insulated and it's not heated; it gets very cold in the winter. You keep your living room nice and warm in the winter. These conditions could potentially lead to a lot of condensation in the subfloor/hardwood/panels combo you've got going there.

Buy a hygrometer and keep tabs on the humidity down in your basement. If you're in the 40% area, that's about as good as you can expect. 60% is bad. 80% and higher and you've got a very serious problem.
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:47 PM   #12
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor


I forgot to mention the basement is completely waterproofed. The house was empty for a year and a half before i looked at it to buy it, and my first visit was after the wettest summer on record here. There was not a drop in the basement, or any sign of mold or mildew.
That being said, despite the incredible waterproofing job, there is some humidity. But if it was coming up from the basement, wouldn't there be signs of water damage on the hardwood floor?

I'm glad i'm not the only one perplexed by this. I was wondering if there was something i was missing, or if someone knew more about the absorption properties of plywood thanb me
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:52 PM   #13
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor


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Originally Posted by littlecabbage View Post

I'm glad i'm not the only one perplexed by this. I was wondering if there was something i was missing, or if someone knew more about the absorption properties of plywood thanb me
WEll you are definately missing something, but all of us are. Start pulling up all the wet boards and tell us what you find. And what's the humidity in the house and the basement?
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Old 05-11-2012, 09:43 PM   #14
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor


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Originally Posted by drfyjhg57 View Post
Thanks for sharing.

What the does that mean?
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Old 05-11-2012, 10:50 PM   #15
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Mystery wet spots on living room floor


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Originally Posted by cortell View Post
Here's a theory. You have very high humidity in the basement (probably because of foundation issues). Your basement isn't insulated and it's not heated; it gets very cold in the winter. You keep your living room nice and warm in the winter. These conditions could potentially lead to a lot of condensation in the subfloor/hardwood/panels combo you've got going there.

Buy a hygrometer and keep tabs on the humidity down in your basement. If you're in the 40% area, that's about as good as you can expect. 60% is bad. 80% and higher and you've got a very serious problem.
Well, you got me. Good luck finding the source, and please update us when you find it! This is quite the mystery.

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