How to Fix a Leak in the Ceiling

Drip, drip, after annoying drip. You’ve got a water leak in the ceiling. Ugh, what to do now!

When water is dripping from the ceiling, or water is leaking from the ceiling under the bathroom, it’s a clear sign something is wrong with the pipes or the roof. Though water leaking from the ceiling may be an annoying, slow drip, don’t mistake it for something minor. There is typically more going on that you can’t see. Ignoring a leak can lead to black mold and mildew growth, and structural damage.

How to stop a leak in the ceiling

A bucket to catch the water is just a temporary fix. Knowing how to fix a leak in the ceiling permanently is essential to stop the leak for good. You might be able to find the source of the leak on your own. Leaks rarely follow a straight line because water is affected by gravity and takes the path of least resistance. Once the water hits that low spot, it continues to pool there. If the leak stops and dries out between storms, it’s a telltale sign the leak starts somewhere on the roof. If the leak is persistent even when it’s not raining, it is most likely due to a problem connected to the plumbing system.

Once you determine if the leak is due to the roof or plumbing, you might be able to narrow down the specific source. Here’s some common reasons why water is dripping from the ceiling.

  • Burst pipes
  • Leaky toilet pipes
  • Leaky faucet, shower/tub pipes
  • Corroded and/or damaged pipes
  • Loose water connections
  • Missing caulking in the tile or at the area where the tile meets the shower/bathtub may account for water leaking from the ceiling under the bathroom
  • Roof leaks
  • Heavy condensation in the attic and/or soggy insulation
  • Blocked gutters and clogged downspouts
  • Ice dams

How to patch a hole in the ceiling

Once you have identified and fixed the leak source, you can patch the hole in the ceiling. Before you begin, make sure there is no wiring or plumbing behind the surface before cutting. Next, remove just the water-soaked portion. Use a keyhole saw to cut a square or rectangular shape. (Wear safety goggles to keep debris out of your eyes.) It’s essential to remove water-soaked drywall or other ceiling board material to keep mold and mildew from growing. Let the area dry completely before beginning the following steps to patch a hole in the ceiling.

How to patch a hole in the ceiling that is small

An aluminum drywall repair patch is a simple and easy way to patch a small hole that is about six inches or less.

  • Peel off the protective backing. Press the adhesive backing to the wall directly over the hole.
  • Coat the patch with joint compound. Use a drywall knife to smooth it out.
  • Allow the compound to dry completely. Sand it smooth and apply two more coats of compound. Allow each layer to dry completely before applying the next layer. You may need more coats to get a smooth finish.
  • Clean the patch with a clean damp rag to remove dust. Prime and paint the ceiling to match.

How to patch a hole in the ceiling with drywall board

This method is ideal for holes larger than 6 inches. You can purchase small pieces of drywall at a home improvement store.

  • Measure the square or rectangular piece you cut in the ceiling. Then add 2″ to the width and length.
  • Use these measurements to cut the new replacement piece of drywall.
  • Cut through the backside of the drywall with a utility knife.
  • Support the new drywall patch with two 1 x 2 pieces of wood that are slightly longer than the square or rectangle you cut out in the ceiling.
  • Apply construction adhesive to the wood. Place the wood on each side of the hole. Be sure both pieces of the wood extend into the opening. Then slip them into the hole.
  • Attach the wood to the non-damaged part of the existing drywall with drywall screws.
  • Hold the new drywall patch on an angle and insert it through the hole.
  • Apply joint compound over the patch. Smooth out the compound with a drywall knife. Let it dry completely and sand. Repeat this process 2-3 times.
  • Clean the patch with a clean damp rag to remove dust. Prime and paint the ceiling to match.

Who to call for a water leak in the ceiling

When you have more water damage than a mop and fan can dry, you need to quickly find a reputable cleanup and restoration company. Sure, you can quickly Google “ceiling leak repair near me” but how do you choose a company? Reviews are helpful, but you should also look for the IICRC (Institue of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification) logo on their website. This certification goes way beyond what a regular house cleaning service may offer. It means the team that arrives at your home is specifically trained to remove water and thoroughly dry your floors, walls, and other cherished belongings. They use commercial air movers, dehumidifiers, and air scrubbers to remove odors and any contaminants. In just a short time, you’ll have your home back to normal.

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