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Mold Damage Cleanup and Remediation

Water Leaking From Ceiling? Here’s What To Do

Two containers sit on the floor to catch water leaking from the ceiling.
Originally Published August 4, 2020

When water is leaking from the ceiling, time is precious. Act fast by shutting off the water supply, catch or soak up excess water, and contact a water damage restoration company to help find the source and remediate the water damage.

Water leaking from the ceiling is an emergency many people don’t prepare for. When ceiling leaks occur, they shouldn't be ignored. If droplets come through the ceiling or even damp soft water spots appear on the surface, take immediate action. When left untreated, ceiling water damage can lead to mold and structural damage, making the space unsafe to occupy.

Let’s look at the common signs of ceiling water damage, how to stop the issue from getting worse, and when to work with water damage restoration professionals to mitigate and remediate ceiling leaks.

If your home has suffered from a water-damaging event, the clock is ticking. Call (855) 724-6269 to begin your project.

Table of Contents: 

What To Do if Water Leaks From the Ceiling

The longer a leak continues, the greater the risk of extensive water damage. If your property has an active water leak or water damage has occurred, take these steps to mitigate the damage.

  1. Turn off the water supply: The recommended first step for stopping a leak is to shut off its source. To do so, close the main water shut-off valve. Turning off the water supply should stop the leak until a professional arrives. However, if the leak is weather-related, shutting off the main valve won’t have any effect. 
  2. Move furniture out of the way: To save personal belongings, it’s best to move them or cover them with a tarp to prevent extensive water damage. This includes furniture, electronics, curtains, and rugs.
  3. Catch the water to avoid further damage: Place buckets or large containers underneath the ceiling leak to catch any dripping water.
  4. Call a water damage professional: Ceiling leaks can be messy and lead to more than just water damage, like mold and structural damage. A professional will identify the source, assess the damage, and make qualified recommendations to restore your property to its best possible condition. A professional will also check for the presence of mold and take the steps necessary to remediate it.

4 Signs of a Leaking Ceiling

In most cases, the signs of water damage from a ceiling leak are obvious. Water stains or water dripping from the ceiling to a puddle on the floor or sagging ceiling tiles are clear indicators. But what if the signs are more subtle?

Signs of a ceiling water leak, including stains, mold, and more.

Below are some common signs of ceiling water damage. If any of the following signs appear, it’s crucial to stop the water leak right away to prevent further water damage.

Stains or Watermarks

Watermarks may appear in rust or brown tones and in ring shapes around light fixtures. Stains located at the top of a wall where it meets the ceiling and that appear to drip down may also hint that the leak originated in the ceiling.

Signs of Mold

Where there’s a neglected water leak and/or a high moisture problem, there’s mold. It only takes about 48 hours of wetness for mold fungus to grow. 

Understanding the different appearances of mold can help in identification. Mold may look like the following: 

  • White, green, black, gray, yellow, light orange, or pink in color.
  • Slimy, fuzzy, powdery, or wool-like in texture.

People and pets may experience symptoms of mold exposure, like allergy and asthma flare-ups or unresolved, lingering coughs.

Sweating and Swelling

A leak can cause water to accumulate in ceilings, doors, walls, windows, and floors, which often leads to sweating or swelling from the high moisture content. In this case, look for the following:

  • Beading water droplets on ceilings and walls
  • Doors not closing properly due to swelling
  • Bubbling paint

Wallpaper, Trim, and Baseboards Separating

When excess moisture causes walls and ceilings to swell, decorative features may also be affected. Wallpaper, baseboards, and trim may separate and buckle away from the surface they’re adhered to.

Clickable graphic directing to Rainbow Restoration's blog How To Fix a Leaky Faucet Handle: A Step-by-Step Guide.

Why Does Water Leak Through Ceilings?

It can be frustrating to try to identify the source of a water leak without experience and professional help. Some common reasons ceilings leak include issues with pipes, ductwork, bathroom fixtures, gutters, and roofs.

Damaged Pipes

Damaged pipes are one of the most common sources of ceiling leaks. Here are a few examples of why water and waste pipes may leak:

  • Pipes rust and wear as they age, which may cause cracks and holes.
  • Cold weather may cause pipes to freeze and then burst.
  • Clogged pipes may cause pressure to build up, forcing pipes to crack.
  • Pipes may be damaged from renovations.

Leaking Shower or Bathtub

If a bathroom is directly above where the ceiling is leaking or the bathroom floor is flooded, there’s the culprit. Pipes, sinks, toilets, and bathtubs can all experience water leaks. For example, sources of shower and bathtub leaks include:

  • Cracks
  • Drain leaks
  • Overflow
  • Worn seals

Overflowing Gutter

Ceiling leaks that occur on outer walls where the gutter meets the house may be due to clogged or damaged gutters. Overflowing rain gutters full of leaves, sticks, and rainwater can do more than damage a building's exterior — when left unaddressed for an extended period of time, clogged gutters can cause moisture to seep through the walls into the interior of your property.  

Damaged Roof

Another common source of ceiling leaks is roof damage. Roof leaks may occur after storms, causing a leaky ceiling from rain. Tree debris and normal age-related wear can also lead to roof damage and a leaking ceiling.

Keep in mind roof repair is a complex, specialized task best left to the professionals. In order to stop water from leaking through the ceiling immediately, consider using a professional residential tarp-over service to mitigate water damage until a professional roofer can address the problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Ceiling Leak an Emergency?

Water leaking from the ceiling is an emergency that requires immediate action. Delaying repair will worsen the extent of the water damage and potentially lead to mold growth.

How Long Does It Take for a Ceiling To Dry Out After a Leak?

Drying out a ceiling leak can take anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks, depending on the severity and the extent of the water damage. Professionals with proper ventilation tools, fans, and dehumidifiers can speed up the drying process.

Can a Ceiling Collapse From a Water Leak?

Yes, it’s possible for a ceiling to collapse from a water leak if not repaired quickly.

A gallon of water weighs nearly 8.5 pounds, so it won’t take much water accumulation to overwhelm the structural integrity of the ceiling.

How Do I Find Out Where My Ceiling Is Leaking From?

A professional attic and roof inspection may be necessary to find where a leak is coming from.

When To Call a Professional

Even minor water leaking from the ceiling can lead to extensive water damage and mold. Your best course of action after the leak is identified is to contact a professional water damage remediation expert at a local Rainbow Restoration.

Our team of IICRC-certified service professionals has the knowledge and tools to restore your home or business, mitigating and remediating damage from any ceiling leak. Don’t wait and allow water damage to spread and risk mold growth.

Call for emergency service or request an appointment online to get started now.

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and may not be applicable to every situation. You are responsible for determining the proper course of action for your property. Services should be performed by licensed and experienced professionals. Rainbow Restoration is not responsible for any damages that occur as a result of this blog content or your actions. For the most accurate guidance, contact a Rainbow Restoration professional for a custom, on-site assessment.

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