Leak in my vaulted ceiling?
A vaulted ceiling adds a nice, open feel to any room. In moving away from the traditional 8 foot ceiling, a vaulted ceiling runs across the profile of the house’s roof.
Along with these many bonuses comes one fairly standard issue – roof “leaks”. Homeowners tend to notice water spots on a ceiling and logically conclude that the roof is leaking! This is completely understandable because it’s one of your largest investments and one you want to keep in good condition.
However, vaulted ceilings have a pretty standard design flaw. Because of the way the ceiling/roof is constructed to allow this open space, the standard areas of insulation and ventilation are no longer available. Normally, air enters your attic space at the bottom of the roof (the eave) through some kind of soffit vent and escapes the roof at the ridge (the peak) through vents known as box vents, mushroom vents or turtle vents allowing for proper attic ventilation. In vaulted construction, this space is no longer built which means that there is no active air movement through the space. In the winter, your home’s humidity from whole house humidifiers and general life (hot water running, kitchen appliance usage, etc…) rises into the attic space where the interior temperature meets the much cooler ceiling, it then drops back into the space causing the water spots.
This condensation is the key contributor to the watermarks you notice on your ceiling. It may not be leaking at all; it could just be your humidifier is on a tad too high or that there is too much humidity coming from the shower. So before declaring a leak, be sure that your humidifier is set appropriately, that the bathroom and laundry vents exit to the outside of the home – not the attic space, and that you run the bathroom fans while bathing.
After all the precautionary measures have been taken into effect and you still notice dripping water coming off your ceiling (a drip) then that’s when it may be a leak issue and not a condensation issue