A question about possible frozen pipes .....

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by debralee, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. debralee

    debralee New Member

    Jan 29, 2011
    Hi. I have a bit of a complicated question. I'm not even sure if it would be a plumbing question (that's how knowledgable I am!) because it's part plumbing, part heating, so either an answer would be greatly appreciated, or a suggestion as to where I might find the answer. Forgive the somewhat lengthly information, but it's needed to ask the question.

    The apartment I live in is the top floor of what was originally a semi-connected, one family, 3 bedroom home that used oil heat. They closed off the bottom floor and made it into 2 apartments. The downstairs is still heated by oil, but upstairs, where I live, they closed off the oil heating and installed electric baseboard heating. We are both responsible for our own heat.

    A few months ago during a bad rainstorm, water started coming in from the top middle of the frame of the bathroom window. I discovered later that downstairs actually had quite a lot of water pouring from her ceiling into her apartment. It seemed that water was going down from inside the walls onto the top of her ceiling and pouring in from there. Supposedly that was fixed by the landlord and I haven't had a problem since then, nor has the other tenant, until now.

    Last week we had some really freezing days and nights in the teens. I found out that the tenant downstairs had not gotten oil, and had no heat for a few weeks and wouldn't be getting any during this cold spell. We've also had a couple of decent snowfalls in the week or so since.

    When the weather started to warm up a bit, water started to drip from my ceiling in the bedroom, which is side by side with the bathroom, enough of a drip to cause the ceiling tiles to soak. The landlord can't do anything about finding the leak in the roof until the snow and ice disappears, but unless it's freezing, the dripping continues.

    My heat is working fine, and we do share the same water source from a boiler in the basement which the landlord takes care of. I don't know if that's oil or not, but it's not connected to her heat.

    My question is....

    It seems a bit coincidental that this began almost immediately after the cold spell when she had no heat. I'm wondering if there is a possibility that this is not from a hole or leak in the roof, but perhaps from pipes that might have frozen and cracked during the cold spell.

    I don't know if there are pipes in a ceiling, but the first problem with the water coming in made me wonder.

    I wasn't going to rat out my neighbor for no reason, but if there is a reasonable possibility that there could be pipe damage from her not getting heat, I would need to tell the landlord to look for that.

    Or even if there were pipes right below the roof, would her heat (or lack of it) not matter since I have had hot water all this time? Are there other pipes it might have affected? Would my heat give enough secondary heat to keep pipes from cracking if they are indeed up there?

    If it probably is not the reason, and it's most likely a roof problem, then no reason for me to say anything. But if it is a pipe/heat problem, they should know.

    What do you think?

    I know this might be unclear, I hope not too much. Thanks in advance!!!
  2. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Aug 9, 2009
    If it was a coming from a frozen and burst pipe there would be a lot more water then you are describing.

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  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    A leaking pipe does NOT start and stop. It starts to leak and then either stays the same or gets worse. (That is a generalization because there is a condition where it can leak, stop for a while, then leak again, but those leaks are so small you NEVER notice them until they finally get to the point where they leak all the time.)
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    You may have an ice dam on the roof, and depending on the temperaturer, it flows into the house, or refreezes. Excessive snow loads on the roof can be a safety problem as well, as many roofs are not up to supporting a potentially huge load from snow and ice up there. This is especially true if it has been really cold, the snow builds up, then it rains...the snow acts like a sponge, and gets REALLY heavy.
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