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Water Leaking From a Ceiling

Exactly how to Determine the Cause of a Ceiling Leaking

Water follows the easiest path until it reaches the lowest point or obstruction along that path where it begins to pool and leak. An extensive inspection and eliminating the most obvious causes is a good starting point when you want to pinpoint the origin of the leak in your ceiling.

If the leak comes about only during bad weather or is a continual issue rain or shine, find out. If the leak dries out between storms, this is a very good indication that the leak starts somewhere on the roof. If the leak is steady when it rains or shines, the leak most likely comes from a plumbing water supply line.

Inspect the water seeping from the ceiling. There’s a good possibility it comes from a leaking plumbing line or fixture if the water appears fresh. The origin might be a leak in the roof if the water is unsanitary or stains the ceiling.

Access to the attic and, with a flashlight, find the place precisely where the ceiling is moist in between roof studs. You will need to take out any padding in the pathway of the leak. If there is a plumbing line near the leak, like the supply line for a swamp cooler, check the line for leaks or moisture content.

Look up at the ceiling while at the same time in the attic and note any places where light shines through. Insert a plastic straw through the gap. This will definitely help you find and repair the hole from atop the rooftop.

Take a look at the inside of the attic ceiling for water discolorations or trails. Follow the water trail or stain to its cause. Make note of the area if there are no visible cavities, as water might be getting under roof flashing and causing the leak.

Check out the roof’s exterior. Use a step ladder to get to the roof.

Take a look at flashing around chimneys, dormer vents or other roof protuberances. Note if there are any wind-lifted, bulging or raised shingles as leak causes.

Check out all regions of the roof where two different materials meet, such as between house siding, shingles or flashing. Look for corroded or ruined materials as sources of ceiling leaks.

Check rain gutters and downspouts for obstructions. Backed up drainage water can get beneath flashing and create a ceiling to leak.

Things You Will Require

  • Flashlight
  • Plastic straw
  • Ladder

Safety line and other relevant safety equipment

Tip

Annually inspect your roof and re-tar or use roof cement around plumbing vents, attic dormer vents, chimneys and just about anything that projects through the roof. Annual routine maintenance in the spring, summer or fall helps to reduce the chances of winter leaks.

Warning

Use rubber-soled sneakers 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 issues around your home. Here’s how to identify and stop your ceiling leaks.

Spotting Your Leak

Wet flooring and dark-colored or brown splotches on your ceiling are common signs of a leak. Leaking ceilings can also cause bubbling paint and wet walls. If you notice any of these signs, address the challenge immediately. Overlooking leaks can lead to structural damage and mold and mildew growth.

Identifying Your Leak’s Origin

The cause of your leak will figure out how you fix it. Finding the location of your leak isn’t always easy. Water can travel considerable distances before eventually dripping and pooling. Here are three clues that will help you pinpoint the origin of your leak.

Leak Frequency: Drip frequency is a really 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. Clear dripping is usually the sign of an interior plumbing leak.

Insulation Dryness: Attic insulation will also help you find the cause of your leak. Gain access to your attic and feel the top of the insulation covering the leaking portion of your ceiling. Your leak is below your insulation if it’s dry. Remove the insulation and look for wetness or signs of damage. 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 cause and fix it once you know the general location of your leak. Here’s how:

Gain access to your roof and check out 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 cause of your plumbing leak difficult. Here’s a quick look at the most common sources of plumbing leaks and how to fix them.

Bathroom Fixtures

Plumbing fixtures like showers and toilets are likely to blame if your leak is directly below your bathroom. Survey your bathroom to identify 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 beams, 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 determined the origin of your leak if you see water dripping. Here’s how to repair leaking bathroom fixtures.

Bathtub Leaks: Begin by inspecting your bathtub or shower insert for cracks. If you don’t notice any damage, run your bath or shower and examine your ceiling leak. You’re likely suffering from a faulty drain gasket if you see drips. Remove your old shower drain (most unscrew with a tub tool or channel-lock pliers) and check out your gasket. If your drain’s gasket is old or missing, replace it with a new one. 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. Dripping water will confirm a faulty shower door seal. Install a shower door sweep– most designs snap onto your door– and run silicone caulk along the base of your shower. Run a line of caulk along its base if your sliding shower door track is leaking. If your leaks continue, call a pro. This could be the sign of further plumbing issues.
Toilet Leaks: Toilets use a wax seal to connect your toilet to your home’s plumbing system. Over time, these seals can age or break due to a loose toilet. To check your seal, flush your toilet and then examine your ceiling. If you see a leak, you could have a bad seal. Replace your wax seal to get rid of your leak. If you continue to have leaks, call a pro. Sometimes this is a sign of other plumbing issues.

Water Lines

Your home’s plumbing lines can corrode or break and cause leaks. If your leak isn’t below any major appliance or fixture, it’s likely the result of a faulty pipe. Remove the affected drywall to gain access to the affected area. It’s best to use a small, handheld saw to clear away wet drywall. Larger saws can damage wiring and other piping. Check the piping for obvious signs of damage once the wet drywall is removed. Water can run along joists, wires, and pipes, so you may have to search for the origin. Remove the damaged section with a wide pipe cutter once you find the faulty piping. Be sure the blades are rated for your piping’s material. Measure and install your new section of piping. If you’re replacing a copper pipe, be prepared to solder. Soldering requires working with flammable materials. If you’re unsure how to perform this task, call a pro. 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 source 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.

But, 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. If applicable) to better determine where the leak is coming from, it’s best to have an experienced professional get on your roof and in the attic (.

There are other factors to consider. 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 gathering or leaking condensation, causing the water to drip. This happens quite often, leading to a misdiagnosed roof leak. Your contractor should be able to spot this during the assessment and strongly recommend an HVAC company who can help.

2. Condensation inside your home or apartment

If your house is not properly vented, insulated or has a whole-house humidifier that is set too high, condensation can accumulate and cause moisture 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.

Wetness 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

If your gutters are clogged, water has nowhere to go but in! 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 downspouts and gutters 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 Avoid Ice Dams

When winter storms dump snow and ice on your roof and in your gutters, find out what to do.

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 cracked 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, particularly with wind-driven storms.

Remember, when in doubt, call a reputable professional to assist in diagnosing the cause of your problem. 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 collecting and puncture it right in the middle. Though 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 accumulates and pools.

Cover the exterior surface with a large tarp if you are confident you know where the leak is coming from and can safely get to the cause. If you can’t reach it, or feel unsafe doing so, it would be best to immediately contact a roofing specialist. 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 contractor 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 take a look at your roof both from the exterior of the roof itself as well as the inside of your home, typically through the attic. Checking out the underside of the roof sheeting can show signs of water damage, however it is not a foolproof method so checking 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 yet. Get it fixed now. Often we hear from house owners 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 Contractors 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:

  • Dark areas
  • Spots where outside light shines through
  • Drooping

On the outside, you should keep an eye out for:

• Missing, warped, rotting, flaking, broken, blistering, or twisting shingles
• Plugged or slow-draining gutters/downspouts
• Loose material or wear around vents or chimneys

If your roof is fewer than 15 years old, it can most likely be spot-repaired instead of requiring a total replacement. Just remember that a small leak will not go away– it will only get worse.

Roof leaks are commonly just signs of a much larger problem. Be vigilant, search for leaks, and talk with your service provider about the condition of your roof on a regular basis.

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