When we moved into our new house I saw a faint water spot on the ceiling and made a note to keep an eye on it. Couple of days ago the water spot appeared more noticeable and wet to the touch. Today I opened up the ceiling, but everything is completely dry. In the attached photos the water spot is directly below the elbow connecting to the sewer line, the u-trap is connected to the toilet. I flushed the toilet above couple of times, even let the water run through without collecting in the tank - no apparent leaks. Any ideas what might cause this water and spot and what else should I try? I should note that there is a 2x4 to the left of the pipe that touches the ceiling and water spot continues there as well, may be I should open up ceiling there as well? Thanks for your help.

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

  • Toilets have a built-in trap - it's very weird to me to have a further trap attached to the toilet. But I don't think it makes your leak any more likely)
    – Ecnerwal
    Nov 30, 2017 at 2:25
  • 1
    Does the toilet "sweat" when it is humid or after a shower.
    – Trevor_G
    Nov 30, 2017 at 2:32
  • @Trevor No it's dry, but I will need to check the adjacent wall to see if some water is getting there through outside.
    – positron
    Nov 30, 2017 at 15:11
  • If there's a toilet then there should also be a sink and possibly a shower or tub too. Have you let the water run for those and then checked? Nov 30, 2017 at 16:26
  • @PlatinumGoose That's a good idea, didn't think about that. Thank you.
    – positron
    Nov 30, 2017 at 16:30

2 Answers 2


Leaks are almost never directly above the wet spot. They are somewhere above the wet spot (water does not run uphill), but can be a long horizontal distance if there's a way for the water to run along.

If you suspect the toilet, dye is one way to check, but presumably the toilet has been there all along, and if, say the recent reappearance of the wet spot coincided with wet November weather, I'd be looking at the exterior surfaces of the house and water intrusion there more than the toilet, unless it got clogged and overflowed recently, or the bathroom was enthusiastically wet-mopped, or tub-splashed, or something like that.

Could, for instance, be the flashing on the vent pipe letting rain down the outside of the sewer pipe. Could be a roof leak or window flashing leak running along and dripping off here. Well-nigh impossible to diagnose with as little as you've looked at so far, but where-ever it is, is up. Just might be 20 feet sideways, too.

  • Thanks, I'll investigate further when we get some rains in out area.
    – positron
    Nov 30, 2017 at 15:12
  • It should be easy enough to check back on the actual weather for the last few days in your area to see if there was rain preceeding the most recent time you had the water leakage, but I would concur that this could be a potential source (speaking from past experience). Another possibility could be (and I'm just guessing here since I don't know your house layout) that it could be a bathroom vent van that's not well insulated through an uninsulated area and it's condensing humid exhaust air outside its pipe (or a leak in the pipe) that's dripping down inside the walls.
    – Milwrdfan
    Nov 30, 2017 at 22:28
  • Is there a shower or tub nearby above the leak? Could also be a leak only while a shower is running or a tub drains, or if you have kids that splash water out of the tub it could be leaking down around the outside of the tub through the floor.
    – Milwrdfan
    Nov 30, 2017 at 22:30

Normally, I would expect to see indications of water dripping from the bottom of the pipe for me to suspect a leak from that pipe. I see no such indications. What I do see is indications of water traveling along side of and puddling next to the afore mentioned 2x4. From above follow the water staining.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.