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Yesterday my contractor (who is in the middle of redoing an upstairs bathroom) had the outflow of his tile saw effectively draining into the space between the floor and the downstairs ceiling. I only discovered this when I went into the kitchen and saw water dripping (almost flowing) through the tape joints in the ceiling and pooling on the floor.

At the moment I have visible wet areas in two locations in the center of ceiling panels (12"x"12" and 8"x 20") and a lot of visible damage along some of the tape joints (up to 3ft in two locations). This morning I bought a non-contact moisture meter and mapped out the moisture content across the entire 12x20 kitchen ceiling and discovered significant 8% readings at the point furthest from where the damage started (worst location was where a can-light had been previously removed and plugged). But there is no visible damage at these locations. So water has obviously flowed the entire length of the kitchen ceiling.

My contractor's opinion is that the ceiling will dry out and there will be no issue and that there is enough airflow in the ceiling to achieve this naturally. As such he is doing nothing right now to remediate the damage. (Note that my contractor has not yet seen these moisture readings.)

My concern is that this will take an extended period to dry and in the interim it will be a huge potential breeding ground for mold, especially in the current warm and humid weather where I am.

So:

  1. Is my contractors belief valid?

  2. Is my concern valid?

  3. Are there any other hidden issues that I should be concerned about?

(Note that I am not ignoring the visible damage right now - At least that is something I can see)


FWIW this is a house built in the 1980's and the kitchen ceiling has a slightly textured finish. I have no idea what lies between the upstairs floor and ceiling, but I am guessing not much. In discussing textured ceilings in general with my contractor he said the easiest thing to do to refinish it is to just layer it with more drywall - which in this case IMHO would be the worst thing to do.

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    What kind of idiot uses a tile saw with a water feed inside without proper drainage? He ought to be setting it up outside regardless! – The Evil Greebo Jul 10 '18 at 14:19
  • @TheEvilGreebo Actually I'm now not 100% sure of where the water came from. My contractor is claiming a leaky bucket and that it was only a gallon of water at most that leaked. I never inspected the tile saw set up. Still .. I feel like I am in a 3 ring circus right now - and this contractor was recommended by a friend. – Peter M Jul 10 '18 at 14:27
  • It is very hard to provide a definitive answer here for something like this. We don't know how much water was involved, what got wet and how wet, whether there has been permanent damage, etc. The needed remediation could range from nothing to painting to replacing sections of ceiling. You probably need to bring in a third party to assess the situation in an unbiased way. We can't really do that over the Internet. – fixer1234 Jul 10 '18 at 20:19
  • @fixer1234 I understand your point. But I was hoping that there was enough collective experience on here to say whether or not my contractors opinion was full of it or not (after all he has a vested interest in leaving it as it is). But I also consider "We don't know" to be a perfectly valid answer, especially if it contained advice about what sort of third party to bring in - as I don't even know who to ask for an assessment or when it should be taking place. – Peter M Jul 10 '18 at 20:27
  • As long as there aren't hazards, like ceiling drywall mushy around the nails holding it up, it isn't unreasonable to let everything dry out to assess the real damage. Then intelligent decisions can be made about what needs to be repaired and how. – fixer1234 Jul 10 '18 at 20:36
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"It depends"

I own a duplex (upper and lower unit) rental property built in the late 40's early 50's. The original ceilings were made up of double layer plaster board which is very heavy to begin with, and it was nailed in place.

A tenant left the water running in the kitchen by mistake in the upstairs kitchen and the drain was blocked. The water soaked into the ceiling below and caused a substantial part of it to collapse. Some sections collapsed before others. One section fell, hit a tenant on the back of the neck/shoulder area, and had to be hospitalized. While the upstairs tenant was at fault, we got sued, and my insurance eventually paid the medical bills.

In your case, having been built in the 80's, there is less chance of this being a concern. However, the facts as you've laid them out are:

1) The contractor was negligent with his tools by using them in an area where water drainage could cause damage; 2) The contractor does not wish to fix the issue.

You should insist upon him fixing / replacing it, at his expense entirely, and get a lawyer just in case.

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    Hmm .. Lawyering up wasn't on my horizon yet. My contractor hasn't said he won't fix it. He is standing back and letting me decide what I want to do. My gut feeling is a full ceiling replacement - but this is not my area of expertise. Also I still owe him $5k on completion of the bathroom - which will happen this week. – Peter M Jul 10 '18 at 14:22
  • Possibly lawyering up is a bit extreme. I've been burned is all, so I'm gunshy. – The Evil Greebo Jul 10 '18 at 15:27
  • If a panel can be removed, a ceiling fan can speed up evaporation and mitigate damage. A gallon is unlikely to spread and preexisting humidity mold depends on your attic vents – Sunnyskyguy EE75 Jul 10 '18 at 16:32
  • @TonyEErocketscientist If it was a gallon. It was raining in my kitchen, and 18ft away from the ingress point I get high moisture readings on my new moisture meter. Also this is this the space between the 1st/2nd floors where there is no explicit vents – Peter M Jul 10 '18 at 16:50
  • Can you stick a vaccum exhaust (electrolux) or intake up there? – Sunnyskyguy EE75 Jul 10 '18 at 17:58

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