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The Seven-Year Puzzle

Launch Slideshow

Seven-Year Puzzle

Finding a leak above a library ceiling

Seven-Year Puzzle

Finding a leak above a library ceiling

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    For seven years, the homeowner had tried various repairs to fix a leak that showed up in his library ceiling.

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    The dark spot in the infrared scan of the ceiling helped to pinpoint the source of the water.

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    Upstairs, we found that this coincided with the location of the toilet.

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    As you can see in the thermal image, there's a darker area on right side of the toilet.

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    A moisture meter confirmed that the floor around the toilet was soaked.

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    A high reading on the moisture meter

For seven years, the homeowner had tried various repairs to fix a leak that showed up in his library ceiling (see slideshow). The bathroom above seemed the obvious source, even though it was never used. One contractor had opened up the drywall around the tub and replaced all the plumbing, but that didn’t stop the leak. Another contractor replaced the angle stops on the fixtures, but — again — to no avail. The owner began to suspect the bathroom window and called me in to set up my spray apparatus and do some water testing. But first, we pulled out the camera.

The dark spot in the infrared scan of the ceiling helped to pinpoint the source of the water. Upstairs, we found that this coincided with the location of the toilet. As you can see in the thermal image, there’s a darker area on right side of the toilet. A moisture meter confirmed that the floor around the toilet was soaked. We made some measurements downstairs and found that the wet spot in the office was 55 inches from the outside wall — the same distance as the right-hand toilet bolt. In questioning the owner about use of the bathroom, we learned that in fact the house cleaner flushed this toilet as part of her weekly cleaning — a seven-year mystery solved.