I live in Wyoming and for the past few days we had below zero temperatures and tons of snow. Many people reported pipes breaking but we seemed to be fine. Today it also warmed up a bunch to around the 40's fahrenheit. Yesterday we also replaced a filter in our furnace and the house is a lot more toasty. In the middle of the night last night all of our smoke alarms went off. It took us about 25 minutes to realize one of them, located in the basement, was making a weird sound so we pulled it out. When we did, a bit of water poured out from behind it--about 1/3 a cup.

I looked online and another individual reported a similar problem. They believe it was just water condensation.

I left a bowl under the leak and it drips very slowly but consistently.

Overnight and until now it's only about 1/4 of a cup or so of water that has formed in the bowl.

Other sources online have stated it could be a leak from outside.

So I wonder... Is it water leaking in because of all the melting snow? (it's extremely wet everywhere outside) Is it a cracked pipe from the cold temperatures? Is it water condensation from the pipes warming up?

Any help would be much appreciated!

1 Answer 1


It sounds more like condensation. Warm air is escaping into the attic, where it meets cold air, condenses and forms liquid.

While it could be a leak in your roof, the fact that you're only noticing it at your smoke detector usually points to condensation, otherwise you'd expect to see other signs of water damage (stains on ceiling, spongy feeling drywall, etc.)

You really need to get into your attic to confirm. If it's wet all over, good chance you have a leak, but if there is insulation missing around where your smoke detector is (wires, etc.), then you want to ensure you properly seal the hole and ensure the area is adequately insulated.

  • Thanks for the reply. Does it matter that it's in the basement though?
    – CAS_Kicks
    Feb 8, 2014 at 19:22
  • While possible, condensation is unlikely IMO. A 1/4 cup overnight is a LOT of condensation in Wyoming's rather dry climate. This detector is also in the basement. It's pretty unlikely water from condensation would end up just in the basement detector box. Since detectors tend to be away from exterior walls, it's unlikely a frozen pipe as well. Condensation "from pipes warming up" also is unlikely, condensation forms on cool surfaces during warm humid conditions. I don't have an answer, hence this comment. Don't forget, water flows down hill. It's coming from roughly above.
    – bcworkz
    Feb 8, 2014 at 19:27
  • Are there any other nearby fixtures in the basement ceiling that you could remove to look for evidence of moisture? That is where I would start. How near any bathrooms or sinks or other plumbing is this?
    – BD72
    Feb 8, 2014 at 20:03
  • That's a good idea thank you. We have recessed lighting that should be easy to check out. The upstairs master bath is kind of above it but it seems like it's closer to below the the linen closet that's upstairs.
    – CAS_Kicks
    Feb 8, 2014 at 20:11
  • 1
    It definitely sounds like a leak. I would inspect the following: exterior wall closest to the leak. see if there is any water puddling up near the out side wall, and all the connections and fixtures in the master bath. Also I would continue to time the leaks. If it slows it could be from an overflow in the master that you where unaware of (kids?) or if it freezes tonight and the dripping stops it may be coming from out side.
    – BD72
    Feb 8, 2014 at 20:31

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