I noticed some spots on my kitchen ceiling and I’m wondering if it could be condensation from cooking — the exhaust fan isn’t actually connected to anything — or a dreaded leak from upstairs bathroom? They spots are fairly widely dispersed. Some have little dark spots right in the middle.

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  • An above leak will usually grow expand from one spot. Those spots seem to line up and might be joists above, acting joist shadows.
    – crip659
    Nov 2, 2023 at 19:46
  • Interesting… they do seem to be in a couple patterned areas although they don’t line up super well. Any idea what that might mean? Just something superficial or should I (continue to) panic?
    – user176121
    Nov 2, 2023 at 20:30
  • Joist shadows are just sections of the ceiling that collect dust/dirt more the the rest, from a touch extra moisture. Usually lines and handy for seeing where the joists are, or letting you know the ceiling needs cleaning. Only need to panic if scare of heights.
    – crip659
    Nov 2, 2023 at 20:37

1 Answer 1


These look to me like bits of greasy food that splattered onto the ceiling. The dark spot would be the food and the surrounding circle the oil that spread out a little over time. A closer inspection should allow you to confirm this. I suspect you can remove the dark spots easily but the stain surrounding them will be more tricky.

A leak wouldn't be that dispersed. And condensation (or mold from condensation) would probably cause many more spots than this.

  • Yeah some of them do seem like splatter just based on the pattern. Trying out my CSI skills. I’m a little more worried about the ones with the spot in the middle, which haven’t come off (though they may have been there awhile). Any recommendations for monitoring?
    – user176121
    Nov 2, 2023 at 20:34

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