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Mystery stains interior


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I am stumped on this one. I am hoping someone has the answer because I don't!! I was called to play detective because of mysterious stains that have appeared on the carpet. And Mysterious they are!!

First the obvious. The house is built on a slab. I checked the water meter and there doesn't appear to be any water leaks. Teh pattern and distance of the stains appear to eliminate that. No roof leaks I can find and no signs of water penetration in any of the house.

The owner said she had placed tissue paper on the stains and they never picked up any moisture. The stains don't feel wet. If you rub your fingers across it you fingers feel oily and dirty but not wet.


The stains start near the front of the house and where I would expect the water main to enter under the slab. But note how it goes around the furniture!


It goes to the right and then curves around a rug on the floor. We pulled it back in this photo.


In the other direction looking down the hallway going towards two bathrooms. Stains were most pronounced here. Problem is the stain in along both walls. That seems to eliminate the water line idea. No stains on the other sides of any of the walls.

Owner wanted me to pull up the carpet to take a look under it.


I could see the carpet tape was stained and felt a bit oily, not wet.


This is what we found under the padding. Just this dark stains. I could take a screw driver and they would scrape off the concrete. The slab appeared darker in the area of the stain but only slightly. No smells either.

I am stumped. The only thing I can possibly think of is that one the residents is in a motorized wheel chair. I thouhgt maybe it was leaking oil of something but the stains are not consistent. The room she spends most of her time in has no stains at all. Just the hall way and along the front exterior wall of the house and they are in spots and not consitant with her travels through the house.

BTW The hallway is in the center of the house, not along an outside wall like the other area that is stained.

Any clues??

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OK, I'll take a stab. I have found similar stains and they were caused by dog, cat urine that had soaked into the slab over several years. No odor or anything like that. The salts in the urine soaked into the concrete and would attract the moisture in the air. The stains appear from the moisture and dirt.

Solution was to remove all carpet, scrub the concrete with TSP and soap solution. Dry slab and seal with epoxy paint. Took care of the problem.

I would ask the person how long they have lived in the house.

Ask them if they have pets, etc.

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While pet urine might make sense in some situations, I can't buy that here because of the patterns. The stains in the hallway and other photos seem to be a consistent distance from the walls, door and furniture...much too consistent even for an anal retentive pooch. Seems more in line with a machine being used. So here's my WAG..

I don't see any tracks at all and the carpets look pretty clean except for the stains. I'm wondering if this is a carpet shampooer gone awry, erratically pushing way too much solution (of some sort) into the

carpet. Could it be possible that the carpets initially cleaned up, but then the excess cleaning solution reacted with the concrete or pad and bled back? Might even have been sucked back by a vacuum?

Further pure speculation...Jeff, you mentioned an "owner" and "residents" in your post. Is this a rental? The reason I ask is that I could see tenants screwing up the use of a rental "steam" cleaner and then, rather than admitting responsibility for the possibly ruined carpet, inventing a tale about "mysterious appearance". Is that too cynical? [:-paperba

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Found no poltergeists while there. It did cross my mind [;)]. No oil fired anything in the sunny south. Pattern just doesn't make sense with the urine idea.

Residents are the owner, who uses the power chair and another lady that lives with her. Both are old enough I don't think it's accidents from wild parties or anything like that. Owner has lived there since 1982 and this just started in the past few months. I think that is a hint in itself.

Also in thinking back it appears the stain is starting from the carpet down, not the slab up. Where we pulled up the carpet I saw virtually nothing on the slab or the padding. If it were coming up from the slab it would be wetter/more stained than the carpet. (BTW the hall looks worse in the photos than it really is).

I am strongly leaning toward the power chair causing this. I didn't look at the chair but it about has to be the cause.

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Originally posted by chrisprickett

I'd definitely go with the chair. The user would stop and maneuver the chair to go to the bathroom, hence the heavy stains near the bathroom door.

Yeah. I'm voting for the chair too. I'll bet the gearbox is leaking. Park it over some paper towels & see what happens. Either that or fashion a diaper for the gearbox.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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If they used a rented machine and din't use the proper dilution of soap or didn't rinse thoroughly the detergent could become "oily" and attract dust from the air and actually "stain" pretty quickly and sometimes worse than the original dirt and stains. If they used a cleaner of any kind in the last three months I would recommend a Professional cleaning company be called to rinse and re-clean with a Hot Water Extraction System.

If that doesn't do ya try getting rid of the chair.

Flooring mechanic extrordinaire.[:-disguis

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I like the photos, but I'm not buying the chair as the source, shampoo machine maybee but I have a different idea.

Pest control. Some one sprayed the area with an oil based insectacide, sprayed along the walls and the furniture, a couple of months latter the dust attracted by the oil became noticeable, that's my guess.

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