Ways in which to Determine the Source 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 thorough inspection and getting rid of the most obvious causes is a really good beginning point when you want to find the source of the leak in your ceiling.
Identify if the leak happens only during the course of bad weather or is a continual issue showers or shine. If the leak dries out between storms, this is a really good indication that the leak starts someplace or other on the roof. If the leak is regular when it storms or shines, the leak most likely comes from a plumbing water supply line.
Analyze the water trickling from the ceiling. There’s a good chance it comes from a leaking plumbing line or fixture if the water appears fresh. If the water is dirty or stains the ceiling, the source might be a leak in the roof.
Access to the attic and, with a flashlight, find the place where the ceiling is moist in between roof beams. You will need to take off any insulation 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 dampness.
Look up at the ceiling while at the same time in the attic and note any areas where light shines through. Insert a plastic straw through the space. This will really help you repair the hole and find from on top of the rooftop.
Inspect the inside of the attic ceiling for water stains or trails. Follow the water trail or stain to its cause. Make note of the area if there are no apparent cavities, as water might be getting under roof flashing and causing the leak.
Check the roof’s exterior. Use a ladder to gain 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 protrusions. Look for any shingles in need of repair. Note if there are any wind-lifted, bulging or raised shingles as leak sources.
Go over all regions of the roof where two different components meet, such as between home siding, shingles or flashing. Look for corroded or affected materials as origins of ceiling leaks.
Check rain gutters and downspouts for clogs. Backed up discharge water can get under flashing and trigger a ceiling to leak.
Things You Will Need To Have
- Plastic straw
Safety line and other ideal safety equipment
On a yearly basis take a look at your roof and re-tar or use roof cement around plumbing vents, attic dormer vents, chimneys and just about anything that protrudes through the roof. Annual maintenance in the summer, spring 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 issues around your home. Here’s how to find 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.
Identifying Your Leak’s Cause
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 very good indicator of your leak’s location. Dripping that coincides with showers 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 find 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 source 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. Look and remove the insulation for dampness 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 causes 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 examining the open ceiling for leaks. If you see water dripping, you’ve identified the origin of your leak.
Bathtub Leaks: Begin by checking your bathtub or shower insert for cracks. If you don’t notice any damage, run your bath or shower and check out 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 your gasket. If your drain’s gasket is old or missing, replace it with a new one. If you don’t have a gasket replacement, you can also use plumber’s putty to create a seal. If the leak persists, call a pro. This could be the sign of a more serious plumbing challenge.
Shower Leaks: Spray water along your shower door and take a look at 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. Call a pro if your leaks continue. 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 eliminate your leak. If you continue to have leaks, call a pro. Sometimes this is a sign of other plumbing issues.
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. 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, determining 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. It’s best to have an experienced professional get on your roof and in the attic (if applicable) to better identify 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 dripping or leaking
Plumbing pipes are often in your attic and may either be build-uping or leaking condensation, causing the water to drip. This happens quite often, leading to a misdiagnosed roof leak. Your specialist should be able to spot this during the examination and suggest 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 accumulate and cause moisture in the home, most especially 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 in a crawl space can also be a factor. The dampness 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 service provider 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 buildup 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 Protect Against 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 house 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 broken 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. 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 storms.
Remember, when in doubt, call a reputable professional to assist in diagnosing the cause of your issue. Most roof checkups 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
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 build-uping and puncture it right in the middle. It might seem strange to punch a hole in your ceiling to prevent 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 collects 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 source. 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 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 specialist will examine 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 inspecting 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. Even if the leak isn’t bad yet. 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 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 recommends checking 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 spots
- Spots where outdoors sunlight shines through
On the outside, you should keep an eye out for:
• Missing, warped, rotting, peeling, 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 probably 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. Be vigilant, search for leaks, and talk with your contractor about the condition of your roof on a regular basis.