Ceiling Water Damage: Ten Fast Facts

ceiling water damage

Ceiling water damage is more than just really, really ugly. No doubt, those dark discolorations on a ceiling quickly become the very first thing you notice every time you walk into an affected room. However, stains are just the visual manifestation of water damage and the potentially more urgent issues that go along with it. Here are 10 fast facts about ceiling water damage, how it happens, and what comes next.

  • Evidence of water damage to a ceiling generally means one of two things: a roof leak or, in a two-story home, leakage originating in the room above the damaged ceiling. Usually, it’s a bathroom.
  • Ceiling panels are made of drywall that readily absorbs water. Once the drywall has been saturated, it becomes heavy and swells or sags.
  • A large area of a ceiling that is wet—or was wet in the past—may be considered structurally unsound and likely to collapse.
  • Wet ceiling panels almost always spawn the growth of mold on and inside the drywall material.
  • If ceiling water damage coincides with heavy rain, roof leakage is the principal suspect.
  • Since roof leakage tends to run laterally along interior attic structural members, the actual location of the roof leak may not be directly above the ceiling damage.
  • Before roof leakage contacts the ceiling, it typically soaks the bed of attic insulation installed just above the ceiling. Wet insulation usually becomes moldy and requires replacement.
  • Common sources of second-floor bathroom leaks that may be the cause of ceiling water damage below include leaky drain plumbing under the bathtub or shower stall, a leak at shower valve connections inside the bathroom wall, cracks in the shower stall or bathtub, leaky water supply lines routed through the bathroom floor, or an isolated event such as a toilet overflow.
  • Where a ceiling light or other electrical device like a ceiling fan is installed, ceiling water damage may cause an electrocution or fire hazard.
  • Unless the damaged portion of ceiling is smaller than a 12-inch square, the best repair option is to replace the entire drywall panel. 

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