Sometimes you can actually have a condensation build up and not a leak. Both leave staining on the ceiling but there is a way to tell whether it is a leak or condensation build-up. Both are problems, while a leak is an instant problem you need to attend to quickly, condensation can cause bigger problems later down the road so it is just as important to tend to it before it gets more costly.
The way that you can tell whether is is a roof leak or condensation build-up is by the way the ceiling is stained. Leak stains will be circular with rings from being small to big and these are found on the ceilings or even on the interior wall. These can be in corners, creases of ceiling and wall or any other areas along the ceiling. We have discussed in other blogs a way to check where your roof is leaking and the areas they tend to be most often like flashings and gutter systems or other drain systems. Make sure to contact a roofing contractor if you cannot find the leaks and get those tended to.
A condensation stain tends to be in dots or blotches that can be small and many of them and sometimes they can get big and cover a large area but normally does not look like the picture above of a roof leak stain. These will be found in corners and along the ceiling, and sometimes along the walls, but more often the ceiling.
Of course we know there are many things that cause roof leaks, condensation is caused by poor ventilation for your home. There are many things you can do to help keep condensation from building up and causing damage to wood in your home.
First thing to check is the area above your ceiling, make sure you have a vapor barrier. IF you do not have a vapor area, you need to have one installed or use a paint for your ceiling that acts as a vapor barrier. Other things you can do are to make sure that your dryer venting is not under your house or inside, it should be outside. You can install roof vents to increase air circulation and keep air inside circulating. Use exhaust fans in your bathroom when showering and in the kitchen when cooking. In rooms you see that have a condensation problem, you can use a dehumidifier to help. A good dehumidifier to use would be one that shuts off when it is full. Sometimes a house will have a room that does the opposite of the other rooms in the home, especially ones that do not have central air. So it is important to see that those rooms don't have condensation buildup. Another thing that helps is installing interior storm windows. The next thing you should check for adequate ventilation is the base of your home.
Condensation not only damages your walls but can eventually cause the wood to rot above your ceiling or in attic which can lead to roof problems, wood inside the walls, and the wood underneath your home. We have talked about how important the ventilation for your roof is, now you have some things that you can do to prevent condensation build-up and save you hassle down the road. So the next time you see staining on your ceiling, look at how the staining is and that can help lead you in the right direction of what you need to do next. Now that spring time is here and the rain that goes along with it, it is a good time to check out your ventilation for your home or building to make sure you will not have any problems come winter time or spring time next year.