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Dovetail Greene
Dovetail Greene, General Contractor
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 377
Experience:  Licensed Building Contractor & Certified Building Designer
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the tenant on the top floor after a heavy rain, complained

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the tenant on the top floor after a heavy rain, complained that the ceiling leaked so terribly that he had to put a bucket under the leak. I immediately had the repair done. The contractor insisted that I see the repair, and asked me to come right over. When I saw the ceiling and what he took down, it was the consistency of munch.

The tenant wrote a letter, telling me that there was 2 to 3 inches of water on the floor, and he had to keep throwing out the water from the bucket.

My question would ONE heavy rain create a condition that the ceiling would be munch when it torn down?

Good evening.

My name's Kel.


When you type 'the consistency of munch' -- do you mean' the consistency of mulch'?


How old is the building?

What type of roof does it have?

when was the last time it was reroofed?

Where are you located?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Sorry, MUSH. My point in mentioning the first complaint and then the letter is that he reported conflicting things. First saying it was basically dripping, but then in the letter he claimed he had to continually pour water from a full bucket during the night.


One other thing, they found a work glove in the gutter drain.


The building is over 100 years old and is a brownstone.


It's a flat roof, and is tilted toward the back of the house.


It was last reroofed, only in the necessary areas in 2009.


New York, Manhattan.

Next questions --


WHAT was mush?

Excess moisture would soften plaster or drywall.

Drywall would become mushy.

Most insulations are soft to begin with.

Any insulation?


No normal floor is tight enough to allow 2 - 3 inches of water to collect.

It might have wet, but the water wasn't that deep.




To answer your question --

depending on how much water flowed through.

It would be possible for a sufficient stream of water to soften drywall and let it pull away from the ceiling.


Drywall is a layer of treated paper then a core of gypsum then a layer of backing paper. Gypsum is a soft rock. When mixed with water it would the consistency of mush.


what other questions do you have?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

You mentioned that, "No normal floor is tight enough to allow 2 - 3 inches of water to collect. It might have wet, but the water wasn't that deep."


I took that to mean that the water would have gone into the ceiling of the apartment below the tenant on the top floor; he is on the 4th floor, then the water would have gone to the apartment below him on the 3rd?


And last, I have found this particular tenant suspect. Therefore, I want to know if his complaints sound credible?

Was the leak over a tub or sink? That could have collected 2 - 3" of water. He mentions a bucket. There could have been 2 - 3" inches in there.


You should check the unit on the 3rd floor.

If there was that much water flowing there should at least be a light brownish stain on the ceiling.


I recommend you have a restoration company come out and check moisture levels. They can dry out ceilings and floors without disturbing a lot of finishes. When dry they can be checked for mold.


There can be hundreds of gallons of water per hour flowing off a brownstone stone during a heavy rain. Did the person who did the roof repair give you an idea how large it was?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

How large what was?

How large the hole in the roof was that was allowing the rain in.


If I had a sense of how large the hole was then I'd be able to judge how much was recent trauma and how much was an accumulated problems. . .

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

There was no hole in the roof. A glove was found in the gutter drain, which prevented water from going down and the drain. So the water sat, and seeped under the roof paper over time, and slowly seeped in the ceiling I would imagine.


What I witnessed, was the ceiling in the apartment and the mush like substance being removed, which of course was the sheetrock mixed with water.

If the gutter was backing up UNLESS it was a Hurricane Sandy storm not very much water is going to be drawn under the tar paper.


Enough to soften the sheetrock, but not enough to cause '2 - 3" inches of water' on the floor.


Would judge your tenant engaging in some hyperbole.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I think you have now understood what I had deduced.


It is a studio apt. The leak was in the bedroom/living room.


He initially complained (without my seeing the damage yet) that he put a bucket under the, "leak." Once I saw the leak, and the complete damage, and the contractor insisting that I see the damage (the contractor even knew, but did not want to put it writing) that there was something wrong. This was a simple leak, this was negligence by the tenant. And, then tried to make the claim that the roof was not being maintained.


My take on this is, the glove prevented the water from going down, and it apparently had been there for some time (probably the year before, as the building next door had done pointing on their building and the workman threw the glove and it landed in the gutter).


Once he realized that I could clearly see that the sheetrock was mush, he made an attempt to cover up his negligence with the claim that there was 2 to 3 inches of water.


So thank you.

When you make reference to negligence I'm not sure what you're referring to.

The contractor who did the pointing next door may have been negligent by not better supervising employees or policing site after work.


What other questions do you have?

Is there anything else I can assist you in resolving?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

what i mean by the tenant practicing negligence is he neglected to tell me that the ceiling was leaking even before this heavy rain. In fact it had rained several weeks/months consistently before this rain; not heavy but, the heavy rain brought the situation to a head, so to speak.

If you could send me pictures of the area above the damage, that is the framing of the building and a picture of leak before it was repaired -- I could give you a more definitive answer.


Small amounts of water during smaller storms could have leaked into the building and the framing and some finishes could have absorbed it. There may have been slight staining on the ceiling, but unless a person knows what to look for -- no alrm bels would have gone off.


The storm that caused all the overt damage may have been unusually heavy. There was enough leaking water to do damage. Way beyond the ability of the materials to absorb without damage.


Common sense that if I have to put a bucket under a leak -- it's pretty severe. I should get in touch with the landlord ASAP.


Previous leaks may have begun the damage and the most recent finished it off.


A restoration contractor of forensic engineer could render an expert opinion.

They would need to investigate. Investigate means to open up the repair.


If I were in your shoes the question I'd be asking is, "What would motivate him NOT to report a leaking ceiling?"



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Hello again Joyce. This's Kel checking in to see how the water damage works progressing. . .