Plumbing Trouble and Bird Nests

So I found the moldy smell.

The downstairs bathroom has been smelling moldy, for a little while, but between the funeral and our camping trip, I haven’t had time to deal with it. Yesterday, I finally started investigating. The odour was coming in through the vent fan, sucked in by the chimney effect from the upstairs skylight.

The previous owners had blocked up the outside portion of the vent pipe; I was hoping that the problem was that water was getting in from the outside, and soaking the insulation they had stuffed into the pipe.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t it.

I discovered that the vent pipe wasn’t actually connected to the fan; there was an eight inch gap into the empty space between the ceiling and the upstairs floor. Looking closely, I saw the telltale signs of a nail starting to pull out of wet drywall (which wasn’t there before; the problem has apparently been getting worse)…

So I started pulling the ceiling apart. Imagine my surprise when I found that the layer above the drywall was twigs, leaves, and shredded newspaper!!! The reason the previous owners had blocked the vent pipe was that birds were getting in. Sadly, they left the nest in the ceiling; Eight inches deep, and about 3′ square. That much humus can hold a lot of water, and when it gets wet, it rots. Tah-dah; instant mold.

I pulled two garbage bags full of stuff out of the ceiling before I ran out of wet. After cleaning up, I was able to explore the space. Immediately above the wet spot is the upstairs toilet. After wiping off the dampness, I saw the leak; a roughly 1mm crack, in the pipe itself, next to an elbow joint. Such a small hole, to cause so much trouble…

I don’t have the equipment (or skills) for such a repair; time to call the plumber!

posted at 3:23 pm on Friday, July 02, 2004 in Personal | Comments Off on Plumbing Trouble and Bird Nests

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