The best way to Find the Cause of a Ceiling Leakage
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 checkup and doing away with the most obvious causes is a great beginning point when you want to identify the cause of the leak in your ceiling.
If the leak crops up only during bad weather or is a regular challenge showers or shine, determine. If the leak dries out between storms, this is a really good evidence that the leak begins someplace on the roof. If the leak is consistent when it storms or shines, the leak probably comes from a plumbing water supply line.
Take a look at the water trickling from the ceiling. There’s a really good probability 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 filthy or stains the ceiling.
Access to the attic and, with a flashlight, find the place where the ceiling is wet in between roof beams. You will need to remove any insulation in the way 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 wetness.
Look up at the ceiling while in the attic and note any areas where sunlight shines through. Insert a plastic straw through the gap. This will really help you repair the hole and find from atop the roof.
Check 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 spaces, 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.
Inspect flashing around chimneys, dormer vents or other roof protrusions. Note if there are any wind-lifted, protruding or raised shingles as leak sources.
Review all locations of the roof where two separate building materials meet, such as between siding, shingles or flashing. Look for corroded or destroyed materials as origins of ceiling leaks.
Check rain gutters and downspouts for clogs. Backed up discharge water can get underneath flashing and trigger a ceiling to leak.
Things You Will Need
- Plastic straw
Safety line and other appropriate safety equipment
Each year check your roof and re-tar or use roof cement around plumbing vents, attic dormer vents, chimneys and just about anything that extends through the roof. Yearly maintenance in the spring, summer or fall helps to prevent winter leaks.
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 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. Overlooking leaks can lead to structural damage and mold and mildew growth.
Pinpointing Your Leak’s Origin
The origin of your leak will figure out how you fix it. Unfortunately, finding the location of your leak isn’t always easy. Water can travel considerable distances before eventually pooling and dripping. 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 storm is usually a sign of a leaking roof. If you notice a steady flow of water, your leak is likely plumbing-related.
Leak Color: The color of the water dripping from your ceiling will also help you determine the location of your leak. Brown or dirty 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 identify the source of your leak. Gain access to your attic and feel the top of the insulation covering the leaking portion of your ceiling. If it’s dry, your leak is below your insulation. Look and remove the insulation for moisture content or signs of damage. The leak is likely located above your insulation in the roof or wall if the top of the insulation is wet.
Fixing Your Leak
Once you know the general location of your leak, it’s time to find the exact source and fix it. Here’s how:
Gain access to your roof and inspect 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 source of your plumbing leak difficult. Here’s a quick look at the most common origins of plumbing leaks and how to fix them.
If your leak is directly below your bathroom, plumbing fixtures like toilets and showers are likely to blame. To double check, recreate the leak by running your shower or toilet and then taking a look at the open ceiling for leaks. If you see water dripping, you’ve found the source of your leak.
Bathtub Leaks: Begin by checking your bathtub or shower insert for cracks. Run your bath or shower and take a look at your ceiling leak if you don’t notice any damage. 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 missing or old, 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. Call a pro if the leak persists. This could be the sign of a more serious plumbing problem.
Shower Leaks: Spray water along your shower door and inspect 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 get rid of your leak. Call a pro if you continue to have leaks.
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. Soldering mistakes can lead to fires, serious burns, and additional leaks.
If you notice water damage on the ceiling or other signs of a leak, don’t assume it’s your roof.
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. 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, figuring out the cause 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. If applicable) to better identify where the leak is coming from, it’s best to have an experienced service provider get on your roof and in the attic (.
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 inspection and highly recommend an HVAC company who can help.
2. Condensation inside your house
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.
Dampness in a crawl space can also be a factor. The moisture content 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 contractor 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 buildup of debris in your gutters. Our best advice is to simply keep those gutters and downspouts cleaned.
4. Ice dam
Walk the perimeter of your home to check for areas where ice may have built up this winter season. When water from the ice and snow melts, it will more than likely leak right into your home. This doesn’t mean your shingles are bad. It simply means, as with clogged gutters, the water has nowhere to go but it in.
Use Roof Melt Tablets to Avoid 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 property owners, can do to be vigilant in the fight against roof leaks. You can check your home for the following things before having to call a roofing specialist:
• Look for broken or missing shingles. Safety first if you have to get on the roof. Be sure someone is holding the step ladder. Wear the proper attire– shoes with rubber soles are best.
• Peak at your skylight while on the roof or from inside. Look for broken seals or broken edges.
• Check attic insulation level. State minimum (in Indiana) is 13 inches. Take a ruler with you, pop your head up and measure. Insulation and ventilation are very important in allowing your home to breath, reducing the risk of condensation.
• Look for damaged or loose siding. Water can often enter the area causing a leak, especially with wind-driven showers.
Remember, when in doubt, call a reputable specialist to assist in diagnosing the cause of your problem. Most roof evaluations 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 starts or come home to it, it is important that you take immediate action to avoid further damage to your home.
Contain the Leak
It’s likely that water is pooling on the other side of that bulge or dark spot if you find water dripping from a bulges or discoloration in your ceiling. Grab a container, trash can, or some other container and place it under the site of the drip or suspected leak. You may even want to consider propping up a board inside the container so the drips hit the board and not the built up water. This will decrease the repetitive dripping sound.
Next, take an old screwdriver, locate the center of the bulge where water is build-uping 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. If water builds up and pools, the entire ceiling could collapse.
If you are confident you know where the leak is coming from and can safely get to the origin, 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 service provider. 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 professional 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 challenge.
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. Checking the underside of the roof sheeting can show signs of water damage, however it is not a foolproof method so examining the roof for damage is needed as well.
Dangers of Waiting
It is important to act quickly when it comes to a roof leak. Leaky roofs never fix themselves or get better on their own. If the leak isn’t bad yet, even. Get it fixed now. Often we hear from home owners that they noticed a stain on their ceiling or possibly some bubbling for awhile but thought it wasn’t serious. Avoidance and ignoring 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 highly recommends 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
On the outside, you should keep an eye out for:
• Missing, warped, rotting, flaking, broken, blistering, or buckling shingles
• Clogged or slow-draining gutters/downspouts
• Loose material or wear around chimneys or vents
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 typically just signs of a much larger challenge. If unaddressed, both danger and the probability of structural erosion increase. Regular checkups are your best defense against a leaky roof. Be vigilant, search for leaks, and talk with your service provider about the condition of your roof regularly.