Soot in attic- carbon black

I am new here and I hope I am posting in the right area :).

I have a situation going on that I am looking to get some clarity on.

I am a renter, I started renting the house I am living in about 2 years ago. I recentally had a inspection by the rental agent and owner of the home and there are black marks on the ceiling on the home. There have been 2 people who have came in and given 2 different reasons as to what the black marks are.

The first person came in and said it was candle damage. I highly doubt this because 1, the house is 3,500 square feet with 30 foot ceilings and I have only lite maybe 3 candles in the home. Also the black marks are in areas where there is no possible way a candle could be lit. For example there are black marks over area’s of the ceiling where a candle would not be able to sit under…the candle would have to be placed in weird area’s like on the carpet or refrigerator, and I just don’t light candles in these areas. 2-The black marks are going through the walls into other rooms and making weird boxy type shapes…not just round. It just doesn’t make any since to me that I have lite a total of 3 candles in this home in a 2 year time frame and it caused this much damage to the ceiling.

The second person came in and this person did a inspection of not only the ceiling but also the attic, and he said there was a massive build up of some sort of soot/dirt like substance in the attic and that was being blown through the vents and landing on the ceiling and floors, he stated that it was not fire damage.

The owner of the house took both of the results and has made the decision that it is fire damage from candles and is trying to make my husband and I pay 2200 dollars out of pocket to clean it up. Now if it is my fault, I have no issue cleaning it up, however, I do not believe it is and I am wondering what I can do, who I can call to have this looked into further. The rental company I go through said that if I can prove this damage is not coming from me, that I do not have to pay for the clean up. The rental company also does not believe that the damage is caused by candles, but is not willing to pay any money towards the testing and diagnosis on what it is from…which makes since, it isn’t really their problem.

I have contacted a couple places to test the substance, but I am pretty sure I already know what it is…I am pretty positive it is Carbon black. The question I have is how do I prove that it isn’t from me? Could I hire an inspector to come in and inspect the attic and have him write up a statement that it is coming from dust in the attic?

Thanks for all your input, I really really really really appreciate it!

Google “ceiling ghosting” and look at the images. Your comment “weird boxy type shapes” is a clue!

Thank you! I did look it up on the internet yesterday and called a licensed inspector to come in and take a look at it and have them write up something on paper saying it isn’t from candle damage. He is coming in today. After having a guy up in the attic last week to look at it (not a licensed guy so the real estate company isn’t taking it seriously), I believe it is from poor insulation. In fact I don’t even know if what is on the ceiling is carbon black or dirt, but I am about to find out :).

Thank you for your help!

Thank you! I looked it up yesterday, and seen about the ghosting…I also remember one of the guys who did a closer inspection a week ago said the insulation was messed up pretty bad in the attic and the dust from the attic was going through small holes in the ceiling, but he wasn’t licensed so the real estate company I rent through isn’t taking them serious. I hired a inspector to come in today and check it out and write up a professional paper as to what it is and where it is coming from.

It’s not dust coming through the ceiling it’s dust and/or candle soot collecting on the ceiling from the living space. If the insulation is missing in areas they will be cold spots thus collecting more condensation and dirt/soot. I have also seen this in homes with good insulation and the “ghosting” is visible on areas of framing where the drywall is attached. Do you burn scented candles, have a gas or natural fireplace or a furnace/water heater that is back drafting? These are all things that need to be considered.

Either way when you rent out a property you pretty much expect to have to make some repairs, paint and clean or replace carpet. Expecting you to pay to have the place painted is crazy in my opinion.

How old is the home? Did the home used to burn coal? Is there mortar missing in the chimney? Is the chimney made from brick? Just curious…

why not just ignore his requests to pay and let him prove it is your fault? its not possible. dont sweat it