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How do I get rid of damp stains on my bathroom ceiling and walls?

Andrew Ramsey answers readers questions in the Irish Times Property Clinic. 

Q:I have a problem with damp stains reappearing on my bathroom wall and ceiling. Some time ago I had water damage to my bathroom due to an issue with my neighbour’s shower. I was assured the leak had been repaired since, so I had my bathroom decorated a few months ago. There was no issue until last week, when brown stains reappeared on the ceiling and wall. The ceiling is stippled or artexed, which contributes to the problem. Could you give me advice on what I should do next? I will need to employ someone to handle this issue, as unfortunately I can’t carry out the repair work myself due to age.

A:It can be quite frustrating when the cause of damage in your home is outside your control and you need to rely on the goodwill of neighbours for its repair.

The first action is to ensure that the leak is repaired. This can be determined by asking a professional to take a number of moisture readings in the stain-affected area. If the leak is active and water penetration is still occurring, the readings will be high. In this case, you will need to speak with your neighbour regarding further repairs. (If you live in an apartment development your managing agent will be able to assist with this communication, if necessary.)

Any further redecoration should only be completed once the leak is repaired and repeat moisture readings are taken, with satisfactory result.

It is worth noting that subject to the age of your property (pre mid-1980s), care is required in completing repairs to a stippled/ artex ceiling as it may have been constructed with asbestos-containing material. A building surveyor with relevant experience in asbestos sampling will be able to assist in determining this for you.

On further redecoration I would advise using some form of damp stain block as a primer before decorating. In some instances, adding a small amount of gloss paint to the ceiling paint can assist to thicken the mix and reduce the likelihood of the stain leaching through.

To rear the article on the Irish Times website click here