Home Fix

How to fix a bathroom ceiling stain

Damaged rubber boot on a bathroom vent pipe
Damaged rubber boot on a bathroom vent pipe
HANDOUT / C. Dwight Barnett

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Q: I have a stain on my bathroom ceiling that is in the middle of the first floor of my house. The room above does not have any plumbing and nothing has been spilled up there. What can cause a problem like this, and how can it be fixed?

A: During a home inspection, I always look at the ceiling above a bathroom because there is a large pipe inside one of the bathroom’s walls.

The pipe extends all the way through the house and attic and finally above the roof. The pipe is a plumbing vent used to vent sewer gases and to allow air to enter the plumbing sewer pipes so they can drain efficiently.

A rubber boot is slipped snugly over the pipe where the pipe penetrates the roofing, creating a water seal. Over time, the rubber will degrade, leaving an opening where rain can run down the pipe to the ceiling below.

Sometimes I have found stains on the ceilings of other rooms in a home where the water ran down the vent pipe and followed a horizontal path along the pipe until a drip formed at a fitting on the pipe. If the fitting is above a living room, bedroom or kitchen, the stain will appear there.

When you contact a repairman, he may simply caulk the rubber boot as a temporary fix. No matter how much caulking is used, it is “temporary.”

A new rubber boot can be slipped down and over the vent pipe and left until the home requires a new roof covering, flashings and boots.

C. Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Send questions to C. Dwight Barnett, Evansville Courier & Press, P.O. Box 286, Evansville, Ind. 47702 or e-mail him at d.Barnettinsightbb.com.

Read more Home & Garden stories from the Miami Herald

This impressive and rather rare vase was made in England by a company that was founded in 1820 to make utilitarian items out of stoneware.


    How old is this vase from my great-grandfather?

    Q: Attached are photos of a vase that once belonged to my great-grandfather. It is marked “Coulton, Burslem” and is decorated with painted poppies and a three-dimensional dragon. It is marked with an emblem with a crown on top and the number 1922. It is 221/2 inches tall. Would it be possible for you to tell me how old it is and the approximate value?

A native ladybug on a firebush in Terri Stephens’ yard.


    The gardener and the ladybugs

    A citizen-scientist documents the ladybugs in her South Dade yard for a research project.

This Wellworth two-piece elongated dual-flush from Kohler comes in a right-side flush option.

    Ask a plumber

    Looking for the ‘right’ flushing toilet

    Q: Our toilet is in the corner of our bathroom very close to a wall on the left hand side of the toilet. I have always been frustrated that the flushing handle is on the left side of the toilet, in a tight spot next to that wall. We’re planning to replace this toilet. Can I get a new toilet with the flushing handle on the right side of the toilet?

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category