Very mysterious phenomena NEED SLEUTHS

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  #1  
Old 01-03-19, 10:36 PM
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Very mysterious phenomena NEED SLEUTHS

Greetings all, I have a real mystery on my hands and could use so help here.

I have a second property that we go to mostly in the summer, it's on the western side of the South Shore of Long Island. A couple of months back I went there to meet up with an tradesman that had come back to fix some shoddy work that was done when we renovated the place in 2016-17. Hadn't been there in a month, all was fine when we left. Walked into a weird "wet" spot in the middle of the living/dining room area.
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Here are a few closer up views:
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And notice this weird little braided thing laying off to the side. Very tiny, looks like what I imagine wheat to look like but I'm from the city so that might be totally off ; )
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Went there this past Monday (NYE) and found a much smaller spot where whatever this is had pooled. Wasn't wet as it was before, not at all actually, and had no signs of mold like in the last case. But there again, is that weird little braided thing.
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There is NO evidence that something is dripping from above. No evidence it's coming from any place really other than from below. When it happened back in October I went into the crawlspace but found nothing really, though I may have to go again and just be more thorough. It's a ******* going in there as it is an actual crawlspace.

ANY IDEAS would be greatly appreciated.

TIA

-H
 
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  #2  
Old 01-04-19, 01:52 AM
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Any chance something leaked from the window AC? Its definitively a liquid stain!
 
  #3  
Old 01-04-19, 03:19 AM
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I wouldn't want to make a big mess but is there enough slope in the floor that you can pour water somewhere and have it pool in that spot instead? I think Marq was thinking the same thing but also starting with the AC as the most likely spot.
 
  #4  
Old 01-04-19, 04:36 AM
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Judging by the harm to the finish on the floor, that puddle stayed a long time. It looks like mouse droppings in the close up. Is the braided thing fibrous, like string? Or could that also be droppings from a larger animal?
 
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Old 01-04-19, 04:56 AM
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Like Cyclezen, I was thinking that an animal coon/opossum etc had gotten in & pee'd on the floor where a mouse or something had been. But as well, it could be where the animal defecated on the floor & pee'd, then either some of it devolved or a mouse ate some of it & that's whats left.

I mean, at this point, we're all guessing.

That braided thing just looks like a piece of rope/string from a curtain or shade. That rat probably cut it & brought it there.
 
  #6  
Old 01-04-19, 06:05 AM
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Next time you are there take a bottle of talcum powder. Right before you leave dust the floor in that area. If it's a water leak from above there will just be a puddle in the middle of the powder. If the leak is at the window or AC you'll be able to see where the stream was. And if it was a critter you'll see foot prints. If you strongly suspect that it's an animal I'd put a trail camera in the room which can also act as a cheap security camera in case someone breaks in.
 
  #7  
Old 01-04-19, 06:21 AM
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My money is on the AC. What you are seeing is the residue left from a larger puddle that has evaporated. Run the AC on high for a while and see where the condensate goes.
 
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Old 01-04-19, 06:48 AM
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I'm only guessing, like the rest of us, but I don't think the A/C is the culprit. No tell tail signs from the A/C, along the wall, at the window sill or any remote water line along the floor from the window.

But I like PD's idea to find a trail.
 
  #9  
Old 01-04-19, 08:37 AM
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The woven things look like some sort of wick:
The stains look like water.

Best guess is that somebody left in a hurry and dumped out a water bong.

Does anyone else have keys to the place? Say, perhaps the- kid-who-mows-the-lawn-in-the-summer
but is now in high school/college and could use a quiet place to sneak out for a date ?
 

Last edited by Hal_S; 01-04-19 at 09:18 AM.
  #10  
Old 01-04-19, 11:56 AM
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I am leaning no on the AC because he stated he had been gone for a period of time. Just me but I dont think I'd be running the AC while away for a period of time unless there is some specific reason to do so.... & there maybe but he didnt mention leaving the AC on. There shouldnt be any water from the AC if it has been off.

Maybe he'll come back & answer some questions.
 
  #11  
Old 01-04-19, 12:20 PM
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I dont think I'd be running the AC while away for a period of time

I was thinking water/rain might be coming in through or around the AC, not from condensate!
 
  #12  
Old 01-04-19, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Dixie2012
There shouldn't be any water from the AC if it has been off.
Wild guess - is the a paper birch tree on that side of the house?
If so, it could be as simple as needing to clean out the gutters.

Those little "wicks" resemble "catkins" aka the dangling pollen sacs from birch or willow trees. They're famous for clogging gutters.
I have seen a water leak associated with an unplugged AC unit-
The twist was that during a downpour rainwater was overflowing the gutters and spilling onto/into the window AC unit, and wind was blowing rain water back THROUGH the AC unit and onto the floor.

So, there's an oak/willow/birch tree on the same side of the house as the AC unit,
there was a downpour which caused the gutter to overflow,
rain water spilled onto/into the AC unit and washed a birch catkin out onto the middle of the floor.
 
  #13  
Old 01-04-19, 09:52 PM
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Wow! Thanks so much for the responses, wasn't sure anyone would even see this! Sorry for the delay responding but today was nuts and I wasn't getting any notifications.

I'll try to answer/address some of the things brought up here:
  • The AC was my first thought, and not from condensate as it wasn't running - and we run it 24/7 when we're there in the summer and have zero issues with that. It's a block from the beach so we have loads of moisture in the air too. But the first time it happened I thought maybe the neighbors might've power washed a car or something and blasted water at it by accident/on purpose (they're renters, young and get pretty high at times haha) But I had to rule that one out because it would've been too improbable, like the magic bullet theory if you've seen that movie about JFK.
    • Even rain water overflowing and pooling in the middle of the room has to be discarded because there's no trail of it and it would've had to leave some sort of trail - there was a box nearby, floors weren't super clean etc.
  • Ditto for the ceiling, there's no recessed lighting directly above and surely a trail would've been left if it had migrated from one of them, and you would see some sort of staining if it just seeped out from above.
  • There is no tree on that side of the house though a good avenue to pursue still might be that it is some sort of plant material. I was thinking more insect like but really not sure. It's very small. Maybe a half inch in length at best.
  • Those are not mouse droppings you're looking at there. They are either mounds of mold or I don't know what. But I'm a business owner in the city and know all about that. I've never suspected mice, let alone rat activity here.
    • We do get Opossum, raccoons, cats - and on the bug side, a healthy ant and spider population along with flies and of course mosquitos.
  • The bong idea made me laugh Hal, but no. We actually have Arlo cameras in and out of the house. Whatever this was didn't trigger it, a kid doing bong hits would definitely set off multiple cameras.
  • I like the talcum powder idea, may have to try that. And I had to google what a trail camera was but looks interesting especially if they prove to be more sensitive than the arlo? Wondering if maybe I should leave the Arlo camera right in that spot and see if anything comes up that way?
That's about it for now - I wonder if there's some way to definitively ID that braided thing...pretty sure I left it there when I went earlier this week so I should still have it.

Those are oak floors btw, finished with Rubio Monocoat. I believe the planks were 3.5" wide fwiw
 
  #14  
Old 01-04-19, 10:40 PM
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The stain looks like it has a red or amber tint to it. Are you sure it's water? When you cleaned it up, did it leave a color on the rag/mop? The one braided thing also appears to be partly stained by the substance. I'm not familiar with Rubio Monocoat. Is it possible that water would have caused its pigments to leach out, causing that tinted appearance that I'm seeing? Was there any distinctive smell? Was it sticky or oily, or any other texture?

If you try to pull apart the braided thing, it should be quite clear if it's a "catkin" or actually something that is braided. I concur with Hal that it looks a lot like a wick.

I know the theory is "not the window AC," but I highlighted what appears to be a flow pattern in the staining. Those patterns point towards the wall with the window AC. The question is whether the floor slopes towards or away from the wall. It looks like you have a baseboard radiator -- a possible problem with that? (Still doesn't explain the "wick," of course).
 
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Old 01-05-19, 03:01 AM
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Originally Posted by silentH
The AC was my first thought, and not from condensate as it wasn't running - and we run it 24/7 when we're there in the summer and have zero issues with that. "It's a block from the beach so we have loads of moisture in the air too.
Bingo. I recently solved a "mystery leak" in my converted-barn-office.
I have skylights with obvious stains from leaks. But the skylights don't leak. When there's heavy rain, they're fine. I finally figured out the reason for the leaks/streaks- Condensation.

My building is generally warm in winter due to the south-facing porch, walls, and roof, (passive solar heating). But, when a cold front moves in, that warm, moist air condenses on the skylight glass and then drips down onto the floor.

I suspect that the OP has a condensation problem-
This building has a thermostat which turns on the baseboard hot water somewhere around 50 degrees F. and thus keeps the INSIDE of the building warm (heat) and moist (near the ocean).

When a cold front comes through, the warm moist air inside the building meets cold air, this condensation occurs mainly inside the AC unit, where the warm moist inside air mixes with cool outside air. The resulting is that lots of water condenses in the Ac unit, then drips onto the floor.
 
  #16  
Old 01-05-19, 05:41 AM
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Please don't close your mind to the mice possibility. It sure looks like water collected and stayed there long enough that it damaged the floor, and mice- and something bigger- used it as a water source.
 
  #17  
Old 01-05-19, 07:29 AM
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As for the water coming from another place & settling there in that one spot, get a marble & put it at different locations in the room on the floor & see where the slop is. For example, if water is coming in by the AC, by putting a marble on the floor by the AC, if it rolls to that spot, there ya go.
If not, try another spot in the room, until you find a place in the room where the slop is enough to make that marble roll to that spot where the water is. Once you know where the slop is, you can look at that area & see where water might be coming in. That may help you narrow it down.
If the floor is level & the marble doesn't roll, chances are, water didn't run from another location other than where the water is standing. From there you have to focus on the immediate area where the water is standing.
I still dont think the water is coming in by the AC because there are no water marks on the white wall under the AC. It's a possibility that its coming in under the base boards somewhere but I dont think its getting in through a wall, window etc, due to there not being any water marks on the white walls.
The sky light idea is a possibility but the OP stated he had checked the ceiling with no sign of leaks or water & didnt mention a skylight. But there could be & he didnt mention it.

What is under the floor? Pipes, concrete etc. Is there anything that could cause the water to be coming in from under the floor in small amounts?

This is a real puzzle here & I am enjoying this thread. A mystery! I am eager to know the outcome.
 
  #18  
Old 01-06-19, 05:32 AM
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If it's from the skylight, put down a pan or some buckets and see if it collects there next time.
 
  #19  
Old 01-06-19, 08:15 AM
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If it's from the skylight, put down a pan or some buckets and see if it collects there next time.
Not quite, let me explain a bit more clearly-

1) there's no skylight at THIS house-

2) I was describing an unusual "skylight rain" that I've seen happen after a cold front goes through- If you have a building with no heat, or low heat, a warm moist day if followed by a cold night can trigger heavy condensation inside the building. If the air circulates past one specific window, you get a big puddle.

I think something similar may be happening here.

First, you need a building that is unheated, or with the thermometer set down to high-30s/ low-40s- I'll guess that the OP has the thermostat set down around 38-42 when they're away. If you have a very warm winter day, the air will cool below the dew point and you'll get condensation inside the house.

Next, you need a situation where the air circulation pattern brings moist air from the entire building past a specific cold window-
In my case it's a skylight in a 2 story barn- warm moist air rises, cools on the skylight and then drops - setting up a loop where all the air in the building circulates past the skylight, and all of the condensation from the entire building occurs on the skylight.

For the OP's property, there's an AC unit in the window above a baseboard heater. Could outside air is spilling in through the AC unit driving circulation, OR the baseboard heater is coming on driving circulation - either way, you're likely to get passive circulation drawing air from throughout the building past one window.

The cold window acts like a dehumidifier, pulling the moisture out of the air and dumping it on the floor. If the baseboard heater comes on later it would evaporate away traces of water running across that part of the floor to the center of the room.

So, New Years Day was really warm, temperatures were up around 60 degrees, dew point around 45-50 degrees, that night it cooled to around 40. So, if the thermostat in the house is set to 38-42 degrees, that night the windows cooled down to 45 degrees, and most of the moisture in the house wanted to condense into dew. Somehow air started circulating past that one window, and then the cooling air from condensation reinforced the circulation so that it worked like a dehumidifier, and dumped all the moisture on the floor.
 

Last edited by Hal_S; 01-06-19 at 09:36 AM.
  #20  
Old 01-06-19, 09:35 AM
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Not that I'm any kind of authority, but I don't see how it could be coming from the air or condensation on the window since the wall below is very clean.

Since you mention a crawlspace on the other side, with all the rain we've been getting, is it possible the crawlspace is filling up or even that the rain is pounding in on that area, enough to cause some water to come in under the floor? Cuz it also looks like some dirt there too, not to mention that grassy thing that came in with it.
 
  #21  
Old 01-06-19, 09:53 PM
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But how did the grassy thing get in? Water will seep through tiny cracks. The grassy wick-thing needed an opening big enough for it to fit through, and the gaps in the floor don't look quite big enough.

Unless there's something going on under the floor that's swelling or lifting a floor board, allowing the grassy wick-thing to float in, and as the water recedes, the floor settles back down and the grassy wick-thing is trapped inside the house. Of course, that would probably leave telltale damage to the floorboards. Maybe. Right?

Oh, I really hope the OP doesn't forget about this thread. It's like waiting for the next TV season after the cliffhanger. I need to know what happened!
 
  #22  
Old 01-07-19, 04:21 AM
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That grassy-wick thing has nothing to do with it. That could've been blown in as the OP walked in or dropped off of somebodies shoe, or dragged over by a bug.

What kind of work did the tradesman do when the OP met up with him. Did the guy have a separate key? Did they arrive at the same time?

it's on the western side of the South Shore of Long Island.
Is this area have any recent history of flooding? Maybe just enough that he crawl space flooded with water?
 
  #23  
Old 01-07-19, 07:44 AM
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If the grassy wick thing doesn't have anything to do with it, then why does the one grassy wick thing appear to be discolored on the end, with a color very similar to that of the stain on the floor? It may be completely unrelated, or it may not be, but without even knowing what it is, we can't definitively determine its relevance.
 
  #24  
Old 01-07-19, 07:59 AM
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If it was deposited by a shoe, a breeze, a bug or whatever, sure it will absorb the moisture and show a stain. It's nothing!
 
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Old 01-07-19, 08:38 AM
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That's your opinion that it's "nothing," and you're certainly entitled to it. But consider this: if it came in on a shoe, did it come in on the shoe of a trademan who came back to do work (or something else) without notifying the owner? If it came in on the breeze, did it blow in when said tradesman opened the door? The presence of the wick thing, and what you're asking about a tradesman, are not mutually exclusive.

In fact, with what you're saying about the tradesman and a key, the wick thing could actually help prove that a tradesman got into the house without the owner present. Maybe it is a catkin from a willow tree, that the tradesman happens to have outside his house, and it hitched a ride in the tread of his work boots.

I was always taught to let the evidence tell the story. Sometimes it supports a theory, sometimes it disproves a theory, sometimes it truly is incidental, irrelevant, or a contaminant that came onto the scene, but all findings should be documented and evaluated.
 
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Old 01-07-19, 08:46 AM
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I think that grassy thing does have something to do with it, especially since there was actually two of them. One on the first visit and then another at the second visit, next to a different, smaller water stain. It can't be coincidental.
 
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Old 01-07-19, 08:58 AM
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Just for the sake of argument!

I say it is mutually exclusive. We are trying find out what caused the puddle. Obviously the grassy-wick did not cause it. It's an effect of the puddle and only there by happenstance. It could've fallen from the ceiling. I have a cabin in the woods, only used during summer months. In side the ceiling has lots of dust, dirt and misc articles of "stuff" that I find on the floor that has fallen for whatever reason (mice, spiders etc...).
 
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Old 01-07-19, 09:38 AM
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Okay, for the sake of "argument"...

I agree wholeheartedly, the wick thing almost certainly did not cause the puddle, unless it's has some insane ability to draw moisture out of the air and deposit it in a giant puddle where it is.

Absolutely, it could be an "effect" of the puddle, in that a critter dragged it over while it was drinking, etc. Or it could be something that blew through on a draft, landed in the puddle, became saturated and weighed down by the liquid, and then stuck to the floor there. In which case, it's basically contamination, and a "red herring" distracting us all.

But if the puddle was caused by some kind of human (or animal) activity, the wick could support the theory that there was an intrusion into the house that the cameras didn't capture. Either incidental, in that it came in from outside when the door was opened, or it was actually left by who/what caused the puddle. Unfortunately, without knowing what it is, or even knowing whether the thing is natural or man-made, we can only speculate.

What came first, the chicken or the egg? The puddle or the wick?

So, no, I don't think the wick, right now, by itself, in the absence of any other evidence, can prove the source of the puddle. In that sense, I concede that it's "of minimal evidentiary value right now." But it may come into play later to help confirm a theory that other evidence points to, so I stand by my statement that we can't definitively call it "nothing."
 
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Old 01-07-19, 11:25 AM
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I'm not saying the grassy thing caused the puddle, I'm saying whatever caused it, somehow the grassy thing is related, since there's one next to each puddle. Strange but it just can't have nothing to do with it or there would be more of them around and not just one next to each puddle.
 
  #30  
Old 01-07-19, 12:39 PM
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There's two braided/fuzzy things? I thought there was just one.
I'm still betting its a braided cord from a window shade that a mouse chewed in two..
 
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Old 01-07-19, 12:45 PM
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Yes, before pic #4, they say there's a braid and then again before pic 5 and 6, they say there's another one.

I know cords from shades and this is not one of them.
 
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Old 01-07-19, 12:52 PM
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"braided/fuzzy thing or grassy wick thing?

One piece or two pieces!

I think we need to identify that thing first!:

Then and only then will we be able to address the problem of the stain!
 
  #33  
Old 01-07-19, 01:51 PM
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Wait, there is a stain?

 
  #34  
Old 01-07-19, 04:15 PM
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The stain is the water stain, pic 1.

The "grassy wick thing" appears in pic 4 and 6: different size and shape but clearly two examples of the same thing.

I'm still convinced pic 2 shows mouse droppings: zoom in. Mice defecate at a water source, seen it many times. I'm also thinking the "grassy wick thing" is feces but from a larger animal that was also attracted to the standing water source. If that was some kind of string the ends would be frayed from being chewed apart.

Maybe i'm more competitive than i'd like to admit: i actually googled different types of rodent feces but didn't find any conclusive matches. Possum came pretty close, though.

 
  #35  
Old 01-09-19, 09:59 PM
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all great ideas...but...seen more than one floor ruined by a leaky water line going to the fridge...or leaking out the back side/ice maker/whatever...on your type of flooring it can and does run underneath between the sub floor and the new laminate....then pools up at a low spot. The 'turd' looks like something from a plant that is very common and blows/tracks in.
 
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