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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last night I noticed this problem on my ceiling:



It's on that part of the ceiling in every room in the front of the house. In the back of the house, it's only happening in my scrapbooking room and not in the bathroom or kitchen. There is no water on the ceiling any further in than what's in the picture.

I've never had this problem before.

Last year I went up in my attic and sealed it, added baffles where the insulation was blocking air from coming up through the soffits, put insulation between the top plates and the bottom of the baffles, etc. Then in the spring I had cellulose insulation blown in up there.

This is the first very cold temperatures we've had since last spring, so this is the first time I've noticed it. Last night the temps were in the teens and now it's about 22°F outside. The temp inside the house is 66°.

Does anyone have any thoughts as to what is causing this (condensation ?) on the ceiling?

Here are a couple pics of what the attic looked like before the insulation was added. The first pic is with the insulation still blocking the soffit.



This is how it looked after I added the baffles and insulated between them and the top plate.

 

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My first thought is ice damming on the lower edges of your roof, causing meltwater from higher up on the roof to back up under the shingles, leak into the attic and from there seep through the ceiling. What's the state of your gutters -- are they filled with snow and ice?
 

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Yes, it could be ice daming as suggested. Any thoughts as to the tempature of your attic versus the outside temp? Your goal, to prevent ice dams, is that your attic temp (the temp of the underside of the roof, is the same as the outside temp.

My thought is that its condensation. Think about a cold beverage on a humid day. Water condenses on the glass. This may be the same effect you have going on.

As you are taking and old towel to dry off the area feel the ceiling - Is it cold? My guess is its very cold. So cold that it is causing any moisture in your room to condense on the ceiling. What would be causing it? My guess is that attic insulation is not installed correctly and air from your soffits is not reaching the attic but instead is coming under the insulation. It could also be lack of insulation, sagged insulation, or improperly installed insulation in the wall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I don't have gutters. There is a little bit of an ice buildup at the edge of the shingles. Not very much though.

I'm more inclined to think it's condensation. Not positive though.

I wiped some of the water away and yes the ceiling is very cold where it meets the top of the wall. A little distance away from the wall, the ceiling is almost room temperature. There's a big difference in temperature.

In a little while I'm going to empty the shelves and toys out of the closet where the hatch is. I'll set a thermometer up there and check it later. I'll also try to get a couple pictures of what it looks like.

Thanks for your help you guys. I really appreciate it. If I can get to the root of the problem right away, maybe I won't have to replace the drywall. :(
 

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The baffles you used are supposed to have an additional Windblock added, for more money: http://www.adoproducts.com/wind.html
The foam baffles are only 1/2 of the system. The other box store sells these for the same price as just the baffles: http://www.bergerbuildingproducts.com/productsAccuvent.html These vent 25% more air per bay, and have a built-in insulation block.

The outside moist air is condensing on contact at the insulation over the wall because the wall is not insulated enough there.
Solution: either blocking method, or rigid insulation on edge, or: http://www.homeenergy.org/archive/hem.dis.anl.gov/eehem/96/961110.html
Be safe, Gary
 

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Do any of your windows have condensate on them?

What is the humidity level in your house.
 

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Yes we do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
What, exactly, was "sealed"?
I used Great Stuff to seal the areas where electric wires and pipes came up into the attic. Also at the tops of the interior walls where two pieces of drywall meet.

There is a space that is about 9" wide x 10' long between the bathroom and kitchen walls where the vent pipe for the water heater comes up from the basement and continues up through the roof. (not the white pipe you see in the picture) For the length of the 10' wall between the two rooms, there is no drywall over that space. It was open to the attic and heat was pouring up into the attic. I covered and sealed that.

Here is a picture of part of it:



I used Great Stuff to seal around the bathroom vent housing. The housing was covered with a batt of insulation and didn't have a pipe attached to it for the air to go outside or into the attic. That is now vented to the outside.

If I remember right, I put 2 layers of reflectix and 2 layers of R-13 insulation on the hatch cover to insulate it. Then I replaced the seal that it rests on.

Once I got all of that done, I could notice a big difference in the warmth of the house and it didn't feel as drafty near the floor. I finished it in January, so we had over a month where the temps were colder than what we have now and there was no evidence of condensation on the ceilings during that time.

The humidifier is turned off and the air seems to be pretty dry. The windows don't have any condensation on them.

Thanks for the links GBR. I wish I had known about the Windblock while I was up there working. I didn't see them in the store when I bought the baffles. The gentleman who blew the cellulose into the attic didn't mention anything being wrong with using the fiberglass.

In the third picture of post #1, you can see where the bays have insulation that goes all the way to the baffle. The guy who put the insulation in said it would be better if he pulls those batts back about 3 or 4 feet away from the soffit opening to fit more cellulose between the roof and the drywall/trusses, make it deeper.

I told him I'd try to get some of them pulled back so he wouldn't have to do it. I only ended up doing about 4 or 5 of them. But when I pulled the batts back toward me, the little pieces of insulation that were between the baffle and the top plate came out too. So I had to crawl back in there (it's a low-pitched roof) and stuff those pieces back in using a 4' long piece of pipe to reach that far.

Is it possible that the same thing happened to the insulation guy and he didn't put the pieces back between the baffle and top plate?

I doubt it as he seemed like a very honest and knowledgeable person. So I don't want to insult him by asking about it.

I left my ladder at my mom's house, so I can't get the temperature of the attic until Sunday.

Sorry this is so long-winded.
 

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So there is no vapor retarder at the attic floor? (Great pictures BTW, very helpful).
 
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Maybe the OP assumes the inside paint-job is sufficient as a vapour retarder...but in Michigan?
 

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My thought is that its condensation. Think about a cold beverage on a humid day. Water condenses on the glass. This may be the same effect you have going on.
agreed, what if she removed the soffit panels and attacked it this way?
it SHOULD do the trick, and keep her out of the attic as well.
yes? it'd stop air infiltration under the insulation, sealing the whole area between plate and baffle bottom.

DM
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So there is no vapor retarder at the attic floor? (Great pictures BTW, very helpful).
The only vapor retarder it has is the paper on the fiberglass.

Is this correct?
Yes. Thanks for the drawings.

Working on it from the exterior of the house would be great. I wouldn't have to disturb the blown in insulation up there.
 

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According to the OP, before there was an air path from the soffit to the attic, there was no moisture problem evident at the ceiling/wall junction.

I think what may be happening at this house is conductive heat loss through the wall structure to the now better ventilated (and much cooler) soffit areas:

 
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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Update:

I took the soffits out and sure enough, there was no insulation on the top plates. When I reached my hand in through the soffit opening, there were large areas where there was no insulation covering the drywall.

So where the water droplets were forming on the ceiling, there was no insulation above that part of the drywall.

What a time-consuming, expensive pain it has been fixing this problem. But I'm hoping to be done soon. I just have to finish putting the new soffit in.

I'll post some pictures soon.

Barb
 

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I think these guys are right on track. I hope I don't have any condensation issues like you are having but I had a similar situation where my original batt insulation was stuffed into the eave. I put in baffles and later when replacing the soffits I added 2" poly foam and great stuffed around the baffle and foam to try and make my own wind stopper. Im praying with the cold weather approaching this works.
 

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