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Here is what happens when a leak in a flat roof is not repaired right away. When it is raining outside and the ceiling is dripping water, you just put a bucket on the floor to catch the water. When it's dry outside, the roof is not leaking, so you just forget about it! This is the ceiling in my breakfast room last October (I think???).
My grandson was up on the roof to do yearly maintenance (another coat of tar) when he stepped through the roof. The ceiling didn't actually fall in to the room until the second day of construction to extend the sloped roof over the breakfast room. All the banging of the hammers must have just been too much for the old plaster. :-) From the looks of the old wood decking, there was a leak problem before the water made it through to the room below!
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Comments on this photo:

Jan 28 2012 22:47 GMT sheasoru68
I am on my way over Larry...nice coving there...
Jan 29 2012 00:44 GMT beady
Thats some bad news... Hope you get it fixed soon
Jan 29 2012 00:49 GMT potterjo
It is pretty amazing how much damage water can cause before you know it. Hope you will be able to get it repaired soon.
Jan 29 2012 03:52 GMT larrybenedict
I'll leave the light on Joe.
Jan 29 2012 04:01 GMT larrybenedict
Brett, it looks worse than it is. It will be fun to fix it. I've just been waiting for everything to dry out. Seems dry now.
Jan 29 2012 04:07 GMT larrybenedict
Jo, I would have noticed it sooner, but there is no drywall in my house. Under the plaster is a cement lathe board, then rough coat plaster, then smooth coat plaster. All in all, about three quarters of an inch thick. Old houses were built better than what's going up now.
Jan 29 2012 05:47 GMT RTW
Looks like a new camera will have to go on hold.
Jan 29 2012 06:28 GMT martini957
When it rains it pours
Jan 29 2012 08:54 GMT Annamaria
That looks bad, Larry!! I hope they could fix it properly!!
Jan 29 2012 09:24 GMT cecilterwiliger
As a "survivor" of a flood in every house I've ever owned (one REALLY bad) my sympathies go out to you, but be sure to have it checked and treated for mold, so your health won't suffer. Luckily for our worst flood, we were sent a case manager from the South Pacific who pointed this ours and took care of the problem.

I just cringe when I see water damage anywhere now. Even tiny leaks. Luckily, we haven't had any slow leaks. So happy no one was hurt when it was discovered.

Jan 29 2012 10:44 GMT skyball
A bit of bad luck there Larry, i hope it is soon sorted!!......
Jan 29 2012 10:54 GMT Bellavista
Looks not good. I always find something to repair on my house as well. That's the wrong site of the own house. Oh, and I didn't mentioned the costs!
Jan 29 2012 11:14 GMT wijnie58
Thats looks very bad Larry, I agree with Annamaria....Good luck my friend....:-))
Jan 29 2012 13:16 GMT bandsix
I'm sure you'll enjoy putting that to rights Larry....water is an absolute demon to deal with....from one who knows.......
Jan 30 2012 04:42 GMT larrybenedict
Reg, I purchased a new DSLR camera last Spring and have hardly used it. I shot this with one of my Point-N-Shoot cameras.
Jan 30 2012 04:44 GMT larrybenedict
Right you are Barbara. As you know, with a big house, there is always something to work on and maintenance to keep up with. It gets away from me sometimes.
Jan 30 2012 04:45 GMT larrybenedict
Sometimes it does Nancy.
Jan 30 2012 06:55 GMT sini
Jan 30 2012 08:59 GMT sup3rm1k3
Looks like a few new roof boards as well as a new ceiling Larry? We had a similar hole caused by a leak from the shower. The difficulty we had was matching the repair to the rest of the ceiling!
Jan 31 2012 03:15 GMT larrybenedict
Yes, Mike, a big repair job. Most of it is done now.
Feb 02 2012 11:34 GMT Ada90
WoW this is aweful , what a bad thing.....suddenly bang your ceiling on the ground.
Feb 03 2012 04:12 GMT larrybenedict
Ada, there was a big mess to clean up, but I did not hear it crash.
Feb 04 2012 08:58 GMT senna3
As it happens, we had last Christmas the same problem with the flat roof of our dormer (I hope that is the right translation of "dakkapel"). I didn't dare to inspect the roof myself (it is over 10 m. above the ground), so we had to wait until January before a courageous man could repair it. But it was less dramatic as in your picture!
Feb 05 2012 01:12 GMT larrybenedict
Peter, I still have a flat roof over a store room, but not for long. All flat roofs eventually leak without regular maintenance. The years go by so swiftly for me now, and I fail to keep up with things the way I did just a few years ago.
Feb 09 2012 18:01 GMT marijke06
I recognize this....hopefully everthing is okay back agian!
Feb 10 2012 04:18 GMT larrybenedict
Yes, it is Marijke
Feb 10 2012 07:08 GMT marijke06
this is why I have a complete new roof last year, no longer flat but with an angle of 45 degrees and tiles :) and more space inside, two rooms more ....it was a great experience to do this but it was worth it