Common Household Remedies Request
1. As it turns out, when I chisel off the drywall, I find not laths, but a good solid wooden ceiling that when the time comes I can repaint when I take off the wallboard I've always hated anyhow!
2. Also, I don't have to worry about water soaking into the drywall over the entire kitchen. It's running along the wooden ceiling until it finds an outlet where a nail has been driven through the drywall into the wood. I'm betting this minimizes the possibility of mold as well.
3. Even better, I eyeballed where the shower drain had to be, guessing that was the source of the leak, and when I removed the drywall, I found a hole had already been cut through the wood ceiling, and when I looked up, there were the shower pipes!
In other words, somebody forty years ago had the same problem. I, however, will install a panel over the hole to avoid future angst and suffering!
4. I know where the leak is and it won't be easy to fix. It's from the seam in the plastic circular drain in the shower stall -- which doesn't seem to be removable (though I could be wrong). So tonight I can caulk round the drain, which will at least buy me a little time to figure out how to go up from under the shower... Or, heck, put a big metal tray under the drip until the time comes when I can afford to call a real plumber.
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Present fears are less / Than horrible imaginings
The moral of the story: Always open the ceiling first. I assumed, wrongly, that the first floor kitchen ceiling would be constructed like the second floor bathroom ceiling, and that to cut a hole in it I'd need a jigsaw, so I went and spent $40 I didn't need to. In addition, I didn't allow for the possibility that people before me had the same problem.
And here I was imagining sheets of black mold, the ceiling collapsing, a hole through a steel pipe when most of my pipes -- meth freaks and metal thieves stop reading now -- are solid copper.