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Why Are There Brown Spots On My Bathroom Ceiling After A Shower?

You just took a shower and happen to glance up only to see ugly brown spots on your ceiling. What are they, and are they a problem beyond being unsightly?

The answer is “Maybe,” depending on the cause of the brown spots!

What are the Brown Spots?

There are three basic causes of brown spots on your walls or ceiling after a shower:

  1. Iron deposits in your water. The iron will stay on the ceiling when the water evaporates, resulting in a reddish-brown stain.
  2. Latex paint. This is actually ingredients from inside your paint leaching to the surface.
  3. Mold. Your bathroom ceiling is prime real estate for mold, and the early signs of mold growth are small brown spots.

You need to work out which of these three problems it is before dealing with them.

How do You Determine the Cause?

Before dealing with your brown spots, you need to know which of the three causes it is. Latex paint stains tend to be a little sticky and can easily be removed with soap and water. Rust and mold stains are more stubborn.

One easy way to identify mold is to dab one of the spots with a cotton swab dipped in household bleach. This will lighten or remove stains from mold, but not from rust. You should also check if iron contamination of water is known in your area.

Spots in more than one color – black and green as well as brown – are almost certainly mold.

How do You Get Rid of Rust Spots?

If the spots appear to be rust – reddish brown – you will need some scrubbing to remove it. You should then consider installing a water softener or filtration system to remove the iron from your water. The iron is mostly harmless, but the stains can be annoying.

What if it is Mold?

Mold is the worst outcome, because mold can be highly dangerous. Mold can cause a number of health problems including:

  • Worsening symptoms in people with asthma.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Coughing and wheezing.

Mold in your bathroom can spread through the home and in some cases it may end up growing behind the tiles, requiring extensive remediation. Because of this, any suspected mold should be dealt with immediately. Mold is ultimately a sign that you have a moisture problem.

You should wash the ceiling with household cleaner, rinse, then wash again with a mixture of one part bleach to four parts water. Finally, apply a borate-based detergent and do not rinse. Wear non-porous gloves, protective eyewear and a respiratory mask while cleaning, and turn off the exhaust fan so you are not spreading mold spores through the house. Open a window if there is one. If the mold returns, then you should contact a professional. Also, inspect the shower curtain and liner for mold. Note that a moldy shower curtain is often impossible to clean and should be replaced. Always use a plastic shower liner to protect your curtain.

Letting mold grow in your home can cause the above mentioned symptoms and can also contribute to “sick building syndrome.” Children and people with compromised immune systems are at particular risk. Mold can also affect the durability of your home and its physical structure. It can cause problems with the inspection when and if you try to sell.

What Should You Do Next?

After cleaning the surface mold, you should keep an eye on the area for recurrence. You should also take steps to reduce the growth of mold in your bathroom, which include:

  • Running the exhaust fan every time you take a bath or shower.
  • Use a product that kills mold periodically to clean your bathroom.
  • In some cases ceiling mold can be caused by a leak. Check your pipes for leaks and fix any you find.
  • Wrap pipes to prevent condensation.
  • Contact NEWPRO to learn about mold resistant and safe bathing options.

If in doubt about brown spots on your bathroom ceiling, you should contact a professional who can help you establish the cause and help come up with a remediation plan. Mold is not something which should ever be left to get worse, so the best solution is to deal with the spots right away!

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