Ways in which to Pinpoint the Cause of a Ceiling Leak
Water follows the easiest path until it reaches the lowest point or obstruction along that path where it begins to pool and leak. A comprehensive inspection and eliminating the most obvious causes is a really good starting point when you want to find the source of the leak in your ceiling.
If the leak comes about only during bad weather or is a continuous issue rain or shine, determine. If the leak dries out between storms, this is a great indication that the leak begins someplace on the roof. The leak most likely comes from a plumbing water supply line if the leak is steady when it storms or shines.
Examine the water dripping from the ceiling. There’s a great probability it comes from a leaking plumbing line or fixture if the water appears fresh. If the water is unsanitary or stains the ceiling, the source might be a leak in the roof.
Gain access to the attic and, with a flashlight, locate the place precisely where the ceiling is drenched between roof studs. You will need to remove any padding in the path of the leak. If there is a plumbing line near the leak, for instance the supply line for a swamp cooler, check the line for leaks or wetness.
Look up at the ceiling at the same time in the attic and note any areas where sunlight shines through. Insert a plastic straw through the space. This will certainly really help you repair the hole and find from atop the rooftop.
Take a look at the inside of the attic ceiling for water blemishes or trails. Follow the water trail or stain to its origin. Make note of the area if there are no apparent holes, as water could be getting under roof flashing and causing the leak.
Take a look at the roof’s exterior. Use a step ladder to access to the roof.
Start at the top of the roof and work down. Check valley flashing, gaskets around plumbing vents and utility entrances. Check flashing around chimneys, dormer vents or other roof protuberances. Look for any shingles in need of repair. Note if there are any wind-lifted, bulging or raised shingles as leak causes.
Review all regions of the roof where two different building materials meet, including between siding, shingles or flashing. Look for corroded or affected components as sources of ceiling leaks.
Check gutters and downspouts for blockages. Backed up discharge water can get underneath flashing and result in a ceiling to leak.
Things You Will Require
- Plastic straw
- Step ladder
Safety line and other proper safety equipment
Every year examine your roof and re-tar or use roof cement around plumbing vents, attic dormer vents, chimneys and anything that extends through the roof. Yearly routine maintenance in the summer, spring or fall helps to reduce the chances of winter leaks.
Use rubber-soled shoes when accessing the roof. Tie off a safety line on something secure to break any falls from the roof.
How to Repair Your Leaking Ceiling
In addition to being an eyesore, leaking ceilings can cause major challenges around your home. Here’s how to identify and stop your ceiling leaks.
Spotting Your Leak
Leaking ceilings can also cause bubbling paint and wet walls. Disregarding leaks can lead to structural damage and mold and mildew growth.
Pinpointing Your Leak’s Source
Finding the location of your leak isn’t always easy. Here are three clues that will help you pinpoint the origin of your leak.
Leak Frequency: Drip frequency is a good indicator of your leak’s location. Dripping that coincides with showers is usually a sign of a leaking roof. Your leak is likely plumbing-related if you notice a steady flow of water.
Leak Color: The color of the water dripping from your ceiling will also help you determine the location of your leak. Brown or filthy water is usually a sign of a leaking roof. Water making its way into your home from your roof picks up dirt and other impurities along the way. Clear dripping is usually the sign of an interior plumbing leak. Water leaking from pipes won’t attract as much dirt and grime.
Insulation Dryness: Attic insulation will also help you determine the cause of your leak. If the top of the insulation is wet, the leak is likely located above your insulation in the roof or wall.
Fixing Your Leak
It’s time to find the exact origin and fix it once you know the general location of your leak. Here’s how:
Gain access to your roof and examine the leaking area. Sometimes plugging roof leaks isn’t DIY-able. Leaks in unusual locations or related to major structural damage are best left to the pros.
Plumbing Leaks: Your home is filled with pipes, which can make pinpointing the origin of your plumbing leak difficult. Here’s a quick look at the most common causes of plumbing leaks and how to fix them.
If your leak is directly below your bathroom, plumbing fixtures like showers and toilets are likely to blame. Survey your bathroom to pinpoint your fixtures’ drains in relation to your leak. Mark off the affected portion of your ceiling and remove it to get a better look at your leak. Be sure to avoid cutting into joists, wires and other pipes. Remove the damaged, drywall section and look for signs of leakage. Water damage should be centered around the faulty fixture. To double check, recreate the leak by running your shower or toilet and then checking the open ceiling for leaks. You’ve identified the origin of your leak if you see water dripping. Here’s how to repair leaking bathroom fixtures.
Bathtub Leaks: Begin by examining your bathtub or shower insert for cracks. Run your bath or shower and examine your ceiling leak if you don’t notice any damage. If you see drips, you’re likely suffering from a faulty drain gasket. Remove your old shower drain (most unscrew with a tub tool or channel-lock pliers) and check out your gasket. Replace it with a new one if your drain’s gasket is missing or old. You can also use plumber’s putty to create a seal if you don’t have a gasket replacement. If the leak persists, call a pro. This could be the sign of a more serious plumbing issue.
Shower Leaks: Spray water along your shower door and examine your ceiling. If your sliding shower door track is leaking, run a line of caulk along its base. Call a pro if your leaks continue.
If you see a leak, you could have a bad seal. Replace your wax seal to remove your leak. Call a pro if you continue to have leaks.
Your home’s plumbing lines can break or corrode and cause leaks. If your leak isn’t below any major appliance or fixture, it’s likely the result of a faulty pipe. Soldering mistakes can lead to fires, serious burns, and additional leaks.
Don’t assume it’s your roof if you notice water damage on the ceiling or other signs of a leak.
As the snow melts, our company gets calls all of the time from customers who have a roof leak and think they know exactly where the water is coming in– usually because there’s a water mark on the ceiling or wall. But, did you know roof leaks and the cause of water damage are actually hard to diagnose? It may not be your roof leaking at all.
At times, ascertaining the origin of a water leak can be difficult. When there’s a stain on the ceiling, it’s a common misconception that the leak originates from directly above that area.
Water travels. When there’s a leak present, water may be traveling down from another area of your home, dripping onto the ceiling, causing you to believe that’s the location of the leak. It’s best to have an experienced contractor get on your roof and in the attic (if applicable) to better determine where the leak is coming from.
There are other factors to consider as well. Water on your ceiling may be the cause of a variety of things. Regardless, a leak can cause serious issues inside your home.
1. Water pipes leaking or dripping
Plumbing pipes are often in your attic and may either be leaking or collecting condensation, causing the water to drip. This happens quite often, leading to a misdiagnosed roof leak. Your service provider should be able to spot this during the checkup and recommend an HVAC company who can help.
2. Condensation inside your home
If your house is not properly vented, insulated or has a whole-house humidifier that is set too high, condensation can develop and cause moisture content in the home, most notably your attic.
Keep in mind, whole-house humidifiers should not be set at more than 30 percent, per manufacturer guidelines, to avoid this issue.
Moisture content in a crawl space can also be a factor. The wetness is invisible and eventually rises through the home, stopping at the roof deck, creating condensation. The use of a sump pump, pea gravel, and other products can help, but contact a professional specialist to assist.
3. Clogged gutters and downspouts
Water has nowhere to go but in if your gutters are clogged! Gutters must be properly maintained so water (and ice in the winter) doesn’t back up with the debris.
Consider gutter guards to prevent build-up of debris in your gutters. Not a fan of gutter guards? Our best advice is to simply keep those gutters and downspouts cleaned. It’s best to check them every few months.
4. Ice dam
When water from the ice and snow melts, it will more than likely leak right into your home. It simply means, as with clogged gutters, the water has nowhere to go but it in.
Use Roof Melt Tablets to Prevent Ice Dams
Find out what to do when winter storms dump snow and ice on your roof and in your gutters.
Check for these roof repairs
Turns out it was a roof leak? Wait to repair your home’s interior.
There are many things we, as home owners, can do to be vigilant in the fight against roof leaks. You can check out your home for the following things before having to call a roofing professional:
• Look for fractured or missing shingles. If you have to get on the roof, safety.
• Peak at your skylight while on the roof or from inside. Look for broken seals or split edges.
• Check attic insulation level. Insulation and ventilation are very important in allowing your home to breath, reducing the risk of condensation.
• Look for loose or damaged siding. Water can often enter the area causing a leak, most notably with wind-driven storms.
Remember, when in doubt, call a reputable professional to assist in diagnosing the cause of your challenge. Most roof examinations are free of charge.
My Roof is Leaking– What Do I Do and the Dangers of Waiting
No one ever wants to find water leaking from their ceiling. Whether you are home when the leak begins or come home to it, it is important that you take immediate action to avoid further damage to your home.
Contain the Leak
If you find water dripping from a bulges or discoloration in your ceiling, it’s likely that water is pooling on the other side of that bulge or dark spot. Grab a bucket, trash can, or some other container and place it under the site of the drip or suspected leak.
Next, take an old screwdriver, locate the center of the bulge where water is gathering and puncture it right in the middle. It might seem strange to punch a hole in your ceiling to stop a leak, the new hole will allow the water to drain smoothly and relieve pressure on the rest of your ceiling. The entire ceiling could collapse if water builds up and pools.
If you are confident you know where the leak is coming from and can safely get to the cause, cover the exterior surface with a large tarp. If you can’t reach it, or feel unsafe doing so, it would be best to immediately contact a roofing expert. Many credible roofing companies offer emergency tarping services. As you may already know, unfortunately if your roof is actively leaking due to weather, a roofing service provider can not repair the leak until that weather has stopped. The tarping service will act as a temporary fix to minimize the damage inside your home until your roofer can fix the issue.
An experienced roofing contractor will check out your roof both from the exterior of the roof itself as well as the inside of your home, typically through the attic. Examining the underside of the roof sheeting can show signs of water damage, however it is not a foolproof method so checking out the roof for damage is needed as well.
Dangers of Waiting
When it comes to a roof leak, it is important to act quickly. Leaky roofs never fix themselves or get better on their own. Even if the leak isn’t bad. Get it fixed now. Often we hear from homeowners that they noticed a stain on their ceiling or possibly some bubbling for awhile but thought it wasn’t serious. Avoidance and disregarding will not fix a leak in your roof. Many times by the time you notice damage within your home it is already too late. The National Roofing Professionals Association suggests examining your roof twice a year, in the fall and spring. Here is what to look for to prevent a fixable issue from turning into a damaging and costly repair:
On the inside, you should look for:
- Darker areas
- Spots where outdoors sunlight shines through
On the outside, you should keep an eye out for:
• Missing, warped, decaying, peeling, broken, blistering, or twisting shingles
• Clogged or slow-draining gutters/downspouts
• Loose material or wear around chimneys or vents
It can probably be spot-repaired instead of requiring a total replacement if your roof is fewer than 15 years old. Just remember that a small leak will not go away– it will only get worse.
Roof leaks are typically just signs of a much larger challenge. If unaddressed, both danger and the probability of structural erosion increase. Regular examinations are your best defense against a leaky roof. Be vigilant, search for leaks, and talk with your specialist about the condition of your roof regularly.