It’s every homeowner’s nightmare: you come home after a long day and find water leaking from the ceiling beneath a second-floor bathroom.
If your ceiling is sagging, changing color or dripping water, then you’re dealing with a plumbing problem. Depending on the root of the issue, it could be a simple fix (like replacing a part) or it could be a much more serious project (like cutting out a part of your ceiling). In either scenario, you’ll find yourself searching for an experienced, trustworthy plumber to help solve the problem.
What does a ceiling leak look like?
Obviously, you know you have a leak when water is actively dripping from the ceiling. However, the signs aren’t always going to be that clear, so it’s important to know what to look for when your ceiling is leaking. This not only do leaks ruin your ceiling, but they can cause serious damage to your furniture, fixtures, floor and other belongs.
Here are four sure-fire signs that you have water leaking from the ceiling:
Changing color. If your second-floor bathroom gets wet every once in a while, you’re probably not going to see any real physical damage to the ceiling below. If there are frequent spills, regular floods or interior drips or leaks, however, a dark, copper-colored stain on your ceiling will signal that there is real water damage taking place.
Sagging ceiling. When water leaks inside a wall or floor and targets one spot over time, the drywall will become deformed and start to swell up. This type of damage isn’t a simple fix (unless you catch it early enough). In most cases, you’ll have to replace the drywall and maybe need to update the framing as well.
Moldy smell. Water that accumulates in your ceiling never has the opportunity to properly dry. That’s why you may notice that familiar-but-unpleasant moldy, mildew smell in your home — no matter how hard you try to clean the surrounding areas.
3 Reasons Why Your Ceiling is Leaking
Now that you’ve determined that your ceiling is leaking, it’s important to figure out where that water is coming from. Since plumbing is a complex system, it’s difficult for the average person to identify exactly where the problem originates. Here are some common culprits:
1. There’s an issue with your drain pipes. If you’re not familiar with them, drain pipe leaks are often responsible for those pesky water stains that appear and disappear on your ceiling. The only way to solve the problem for good is to replace the fittings on the system. If you’re not sure which type of fitting and tools are necessary for your project, it’s best to contact a professional.
2. Your upstairs toilet is leaking. If you have a problem with your upstairs toilet, it’s probably because of a break in the seal of the wax ring that holds the toilet to the floor (which you can replace). If this defect goes unnoticed for too long, it’ll cause water to penetrate through the bathroom floor and into your ceiling every time you flush the toilet. This, as you can imagine, is bad for a number of reasons.
3. There’s a leak in your water supply. A leaky ceiling can also result from a leak in the water supply that attaches to the toilet or sink. This line leak could come from two places: where the water supply lines join together, or where a connector joint is too loose. If you’re not sure which one is the culprit, touch the lines and see which parts are damp.
Read more: What is considered a plumbing emergency?
How do you stop a leaking ceiling?
If your bathroom’s drain pipes, toilet ring, and water supply all seem to be in order, it probably means the leak is coming from the shower or bathtub. Since your shower’s drainage is under the floor, it’s not easy to tell if it’s leaking. In fact, you may even have to cut a hole in the ceiling beneath the tub to locate the leak.
With that in mind, don’t take it upon yourself to cut a hole in your ceiling! This is especially true if you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for. If you’ve tried simple DIY fixes and aren’t seeing any results, it’s time to call in a trained plumber.
Remember: even small leaks that you leave untreated can cause serious damage to your home over time. For one, that annoying moldy smell could develop into a serious health issue. You could also be looking at other dangerous situations, such as your ceiling collapse or water leaking your electrical fixtures — that’s a fire hazard.
Don’t wait on a water leak.
If you notice water leaking from the ceiling, don’t ignore it. Contact CroppMetcalfe and we'll send one of our 5-Star plumbers to assess the situation as soon as possible. Call 703-372-9359 or schedule service online now.