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  #1  
Old 11-06-2011, 02:19 PM
Romeo and Whatsherface Romeo and Whatsherface is offline
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Why are there brown spots on my walls?

On my kitchen and bathroom walls, there are brownish spots and streaks. I'm on city water, not well water. (I live in a small, rural town.) The spots are tan, about the color of cafe au lait. The water looks clear in a clear glass or pitcher. I know it has to do with condensation--these are the only rooms where there's ever a significant amount of steam, the only the walls show the streaks, not the ceiling, where there are only spots. So it must be from the water.

I live in a rental house. This happened in the last rental house I lived in here, too. Before that, I lived in the country and had well water and no spots. So clearly, it's something in the water. I would guess it to be rust from the pipes, as both houses I've lived in have been old, but there's not enough orange in the spots to indicate rust.

Could it be iron in the water? Years ago, when my son was a baby, the water in the washing machine dyed his diapers dark brown (probably more practical than white). I found out it was from bleach reacting to iron in the water. But I've used bleach many times here, and no brown water. And why does it only show up in condensation? It's there even before significant evaporation; I've wiped away wet drips.

I'm getting sick of having to wipe down the walls and ceiling (no fan in the bathroom; the one in the kitchen is a wimpy stove hood one), but I'd feel better if I knew what this was.

Thanks for any educated guesses.
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  #2  
Old 11-06-2011, 02:22 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Are there any smokers in the house? Do you do a lot of frying? Smoke, whether from smoking or frying, can land on the walls. When there is condensation, there can be streaks.
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  #3  
Old 11-06-2011, 02:32 PM
Ruby Ruby is offline
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I'd bet it was from some type of soil on the walls rather than the water itself. My mom and dad's kitchen was awful with streaks from frying foods and heavy smoking.
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  #4  
Old 11-06-2011, 02:58 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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Do you live somewhere on the west coast? Cedar and redwood are more common building materials out there and part of the problem may be tannin staining. Often more obvious on exterior surfaces but can manifest inside, especially if there isn't adequate ventilation in more humid roooms, like you describe.
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Old 11-06-2011, 05:48 PM
Fubaya Fubaya is offline
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Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
Are there any smokers in the house? Do you do a lot of frying? Smoke, whether from smoking or frying, can land on the walls. When there is condensation, there can be streaks.
The last place I rented did this in the master bathroom. There were a couple classy cigarette burns on the edge of the tub to give away what the brown gunk on the walls was or else I might have never suspected it.
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  #6  
Old 11-06-2011, 05:57 PM
Romeo and Whatsherface Romeo and Whatsherface is offline
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Nope, no smokers. I've lived here 1 1/2 years, and nobody has smoked in the house in all that time. The elderly lady who lived here before me was in here 10 years, and she didn't smoke either. Plus the house was immaculate and the bathroom and kitchen were freshly painted white when I moved in.

I seldom fry foods.

I live in the Rocky Mountain area. It's a 1050's house with no redwood in the construction .
I was thinking this was going to be an easy one, and I'd be using the icon, but maybe it's tougher than I thought it'd be.
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Old 11-06-2011, 06:20 PM
Sudden Kestrel Sudden Kestrel is offline
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Originally Posted by Romeo and Whatsherface View Post
I was thinking this was going to be an easy one, and I'd be using the icon, but maybe it's tougher than I thought it'd be.
Huh, I immediately thought of smokers, too. My second thought was of gravel roads. We have to dust our walls periodically because limestone dust builds up on them from the gravel road that borders our property. Anything like that nearby, or maybe a quarry?
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  #8  
Old 11-06-2011, 06:40 PM
Richard Parker Richard Parker is offline
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Originally Posted by Romeo and Whatsherface View Post
It's a 1050's house with no redwood in the construction.
Well, there's your problem. Those "spots" are just part of your castle, likely the result of your guards pouring hot oil down the walls to keep the peasants away, or else simply part of the granite from which your keep is built.
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  #9  
Old 11-06-2011, 08:12 PM
Romeo and Whatsherface Romeo and Whatsherface is offline
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Oh, lord, obviously the wrong date..1950's house. Pretty sure the 1050 houses here were teepees. Sorry I didn't catch that.
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  #10  
Old 11-06-2011, 08:58 PM
Ulfreida Ulfreida is offline
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I have brown stains on mY writing studio walls. I have identified it as woodrat piss, from when theY had colonized the ceiling. VerY difficult to remove. Hope that's not what Yours is.
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  #11  
Old 11-07-2011, 07:48 AM
taffygirl taffygirl is offline
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Yuck. I don't have any vermin, Ulfreida, so I don't think it's that. Plus the spots appear almost everywhere. Everything suggests it's something in the water. I'd just like to know WHAT. I drink the water (not off the walls, of course), and it doesn't seem to be harming me...but it's not giving me magical super powers either.
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:08 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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I notice brown spots like the OP describes, but only in the bathroom, and mostly on the inside of the door. They look as though they are residues of water splashes, and I wonder if it's from wet hands (the towel hangs nearby). They wipe off easily with no discolouration beneath, so I don't think they are coming out of the door/wall.

We are on UK mains water, and nobody in the house is or has been a smoker (house has been in the family for 40 years). It's a mystery to me.
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:20 AM
yoyodyne yoyodyne is offline
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It's probably mold.
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:31 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Originally Posted by yoyodyne View Post
It's probably mold.
It certainly doesn't look like mould to me, and it wipes off much more easily than other bathroom mould I've encountered. It looks just like dried splashes of liquid - you can even see the shape of the droplets where they have run down the door. I just don't know why they're brown!

BTW - I would doubt that it's related to condensation, as surely any coloured impurities in the water would be left behind when the water evaporated. So I think it must be either liquid water splashes, or, if it is to do with condensation, it's something in the wall/door/ceiling that is leaching out when water condenses on it.

Last edited by Colophon; 11-07-2011 at 08:33 AM..
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:23 AM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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Dead guy in the wall?
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  #16  
Old 11-07-2011, 11:10 AM
Carol the Impaler Carol the Impaler is offline
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Don't know if it's the same problem, but I have what looks like mustard yellow drops and drips that appear on my bathroom door. Nothing on the ceiling, only on the door. And only on the door, not in corners or base boards or anywhere you'd expect mold to appear in a steamy bathroom. Wipes off easily, but always comes back. Doesn't look like any mold I've ever seen, and like I said, only appears on the door.

My research seemed to point to surfacant leaching.

Quote:
DESCRIPTION

Concentration of water-soluble paint ingredients called “surfactants” on the surface of a latex paint. May be evident as tan, brown, or clear spots or areas, and can sometimes be glossy, soapy, oily, or sticky.
POSSIBLE CAUSE

• Latex paints contain surfactants designed to make applying them possible. All latex paint formulas will exhibit this tendency to some extent if applied in areas where moisture (rain, dew, high humidity, showers, laundry rooms, etc.) can come in contact with an uncured latex paint.
• Cool temperatures will retard the paint’s curing process, which can allow surfactants to separate out and float to the top of the coating.
• Moisture accumulating on a fresh latex paint will retard the paint’s drying. This moisture may extract and concentrate different water-soluble materials from within the paint onto the paint surface. When the water evaporates, a concentrated residue is left behind, causing staining, unsightly runs, and gloss patterns.
SOLUTION

See Lead Information.

Inside: Wash the affected area with soap and water, and rinse. The discoloration may occur once or twice again before the surfactant is completely removed. When paint is applied in a bathroom, it should dry thoroughly before using the bath or shower. Remove as much staining as possible before repainting.
I don't have a fan in my bathroom, so my assumption is that the latex paint used on the bathroom door wasn't allowed to dry completely or that drying completely wasn't really possible since my house is kind of damp in general.

But it is the weirdest thing. It's like an episode of The Amityville Horror with demonic looking liquids apparently springing forth from the door itself and dripping down in a creepy way.

Considered calling a priest, but decided to treat with Windex instead of Holy Water.
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  #17  
Old 11-07-2011, 11:43 AM
taffygirl taffygirl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carol the Impaler View Post
Don't know if it's the same problem, but I have what looks like mustard yellow drops and drips that appear on my bathroom door. Nothing on the ceiling, only on the door. And only on the door, not in corners or base boards or anywhere you'd expect mold to appear in a steamy bathroom. Wipes off easily, but always comes back. Doesn't look like any mold I've ever seen, and like I said, only appears on the door.

My research seemed to point to surfacant leaching.



I don't have a fan in my bathroom, so my assumption is that the latex paint used on the bathroom door wasn't allowed to dry completely or that drying completely wasn't really possible since my house is kind of damp in general.

But it is the weirdest thing. It's like an episode of The Amityville Horror with demonic looking liquids apparently springing forth from the door itself and dripping down in a creepy way.

Considered calling a priest, but decided to treat with Windex instead of Holy Water.
Eureka! I bet this is it!!! Both houses I've lived in that have had this problem were freshly painted before I moved in with latex paint. OK, so if I scrub down the walls and ceiling with Windex or something, that should take care of it, right? I've been wiping it down with just a dry cloth or a water-dampened one, as the stuff comes off easily. Funny thing is, I live in a fairly dry climate. But both moves happened in winter, so my guess is the paint just didn't dry. Thank you!!!!
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  #18  
Old 11-07-2011, 11:55 AM
Carol the Impaler Carol the Impaler is offline
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Here's hoping. I'm on my third rub-down with Windex. I'll let you know how it goes.

Now, can someone help me with the voices coming from my tub drain telling me to "mill my landlord"? Am I supposed to grind him into flour?
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  #19  
Old 11-07-2011, 12:09 PM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Originally Posted by Carol the Impaler View Post
Don't know if it's the same problem, but I have what looks like mustard yellow drops and drips that appear on my bathroom door. Nothing on the ceiling, only on the door. And only on the door, not in corners or base boards or anywhere you'd expect mold to appear in a steamy bathroom. Wipes off easily, but always comes back. Doesn't look like any mold I've ever seen, and like I said, only appears on the door.
That pretty much exactly mirrors my own experience. I guess that's the answer.
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  #20  
Old 11-07-2011, 12:14 PM
jasg jasg is offline
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Hmmm, do you have pet monkeys?
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