Suspect a Ceiling Leak? Identify Where It’s Coming From and Have It Repaired ASAP!

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Do you see dirty water leaking from the ceiling? Water can wreak havoc on your home and do thousands of dollars worth of damage. Ceiling leaks in your home often indicate you have a plumbing, roofing, or rain gutter problem.

catching ceiling leak with bucket

These leaks can cause all kinds of problems in your home, but taking quick action will help thwart the ensuing water damage to your home and its structure. Water leaks can cause serious problems in your home associated with mold, mildew growth, and drywall and wood rot.

What Does a Ceiling Leak Look Like?

ceiling leaks

If you notice any of the following signs of ceiling leakage, immediately look for and eliminate the source of the leak:

  • Water Stains: Water stains on ceiling tiles or drywall are usually a dark, yellow, or rust-colored.
  • Peeling Paint: Paint that is flaking, bubbling, or peeling away is a clear indication of a water leak.
  • Sagging Ceilings: If your ceilings are sagging, bowing, or dipping, they may be laden with water.
  • Musty Smells: If you are smelling mold or mildew growth, then there’s excess water somewhere.
  • Visible Mold: Mold needs water to live. If you’re seeing mold, it’s surviving off of water from somewhere.
  • Cracks in Walls or Ceilings: Cracks could be from moisture. When walls or ceilings get wet and then dry, then often shrink and crack.

If you’ve noticed any of these signs, then you probably have a water leak from your roof or plumbing.

How to Find the Source of the Leak in Your Ceiling

ceiling leak bubbling paint

It’s imperative that you find the source of the ceiling leak as quickly as you can. The sooner you can repair a leak, the less water damage your home will incur.

The first step to finding a ceiling leak is to narrow down its location. Are you on the first floor? The second floor? Top floor? If you go up a story, do you see water damage on the ceiling above?

If you can’t find any evidence of damage on the next floor’s ceiling and it’s only leaking on the first-floor ceiling, then the damage is probably a plumbing issue. If the only thing above the ceiling with water damage is the attic and roof, then you very likely have a gutter or roof problem.

How to Check for Leaks in the Roof

The first step of determining the type of leak is to narrow down its source. If you notice the leak only when it’s raining, check the gutters. Clogged gutters can force draining rainwater or melting snow to back up. As it does, it may go beneath the flashing and leak into the attic, where it then drips down onto your ceilings. Keeping your gutters and downspouts clean will stop the problem.

sealing attic air leaksHead to the attic with a flashlight and look at the roof deck for any discolorations or wet areas to get an idea of where your roof might be leaking. Water always flows from the highest to the lowest point, so the actual leak may not be where you find the problem.

Inspecting the roof from the attic during the day may reveal any places where you see light coming through, indicating the roof deck has a hole.

damaged old asphalt roof

Inspect the roof itself, looking for raised, missing, or damaged shingles. You should also inspect the joints around the roof and the flashing around pipes and vents for a tight seal. You may need to use some roofing caulk or sealant to ensure your tiles and joints have tight seals. Sometimes a tile will need to be hammered back down as well.

Leaky roofs can be tricky. Don’t be afraid to call in a professional roofer to look at your roof to see if he can identify all the locations where your roof may be leaking.

How to Check for Leaks in Ceiling Plumbing

Plumbing leaks can cause ceiling leaks in areas beside or below them. If the dampness doesn’t dry out after rain, suspect a leaky pipe or bad caulking on tiling or tubs. Check the cabinet bases below the sinks to see if they’re damp or wet. The cause of a ceiling leak could be a loose drainpipe, a supply line, or a leaking toilet.

watching a ceiling leak

If you have children, it could be poor caulking around your tub or shower. Investigate every wet area. If you are unable to find the leak but the damage continues, call a professional plumber to find the source of the ceiling leak. Most plumbers offer leak detection services.

Once you have identified the leak, you can attempt a repair or call a professional plumber. At a minimum, you can turn off the water supplying the offending leak. Follow the pipe where the leak is to the nearest valve and turn that clockwise. Toilet shut-off valves are usually in the bottom left corner at the toilet’s base.

Inside your sink vanity cabinet, there will be shut-off valves. You can turn those clockwise to shut the water off to the sink. Shutting off water to a shower or tub faucet may be more complex, often requiring access to the back on the other side of the wall or removal the faucet controls from the tiles. You’ll want to wait for a professional plumber if the problem is with your shower drain or faucet.

Fast Ceiling Leak Detection Services in Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky

If you’ve noticed any ceiling leaks in your Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky home, contact the pros at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. We’ve provided superior services for Greater Cincinnati homeowners since 1910. Our expert plumbers can identify and repair any leaks you have.

"Ernie & Mike did a superb job on my new furnace and A/C installation. Despite having more than a day’s work to do, they came in and stayed until the job was done. They were organized, efficient, and protected the rest of the house well. Got both furnace and A/C installed the same day. Ernie was courteous, informative, and clearly knew his job better than anyone I’ve encountered before. The units look so good guests now get The Tour of our new system. Apollo is clearly not a fly-by-night company. I would recommend them to anyone in need of a new furnace and/or A/C."
- Jerry A.
"I called Apollo because of a water leak I thought I had in our upstairs shower going into the kitchen. Robbie came and assured me everything was fine & looked at all the other plumbing. He ended up changing a few pipes for our washer & clearing a drain. He was very nice & knowledgeable with all my questions. I ended up signing up for the care plan & was very happy with my service."
- Cassandra B.
"The team at Apollo exceeded my expectations. As a business owner, my attention to the details and commitment to providing excellent service is high. From the sales rep. to the installation team, everyone’s performance was outstanding. For example, the installation team went to great lengths to protect our floors, placing floor runners and across the wood floors and up the stairs. They even were spot washing walls upon their departure. I highly recommend this company."
- Randy B.
"We scheduled an estimate AND a tune-up. We knew something was wrong with our furnace, but hoped we could make it through the rest of the season. Upon telling Bill what our furnace was doing, he warned us immediately what the possible outcome was going to be; a cracked heat exchanger. He watched the flames roll backward, tested carbon monoxide levels, which were so high they meter’s last reading was 5,600 before saying “high”. He immediately shut it down, tagged it, and explained that with levels that high and children in our home he wanted off right away. He continued his inspection and showed us via a camera that not only was it cracked in multiple places, but had holes all over it. He gave us a few options for repairing it; his knowledge as well as genuine concern was beneficial and refreshing. Luckily we also scheduled an estimator, Micah, to come too and we were able to get costs between repairing and replacing (with several options). We decided to replace with a much higher efficiency furnace and one sized properly to our home. Hands down, not only did they both provide us great service and knowledge, but without sounding dramatic, they may have saved our lives. This was our first time calling Apollo, but it won’t be our last."
- Sarah B.
"Apollo is an excellent company. I always receive great service. Alex A. was professional and friendly. He kept me informed during the process of checking my furnace and heat pump to make sure they were working properly. The company makes sure you are notified who is coming and when they are on the way. All my interactions with the company have been wonderful."
- Beverly S.



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