What is Ceiling Water Damage?
Maybe a major rainstorm just hit and you find yourself collecting water in a pan as it drips from the ceiling. Or perhaps you’ve just noticed some discoloration on your ceiling and you’re worried about what lies behind the plaster. If you have ceiling water damage, it is something that needs to be identified and taken care of.
Left to its own devices, mold and mildew are likely to grow, and the structure itself will weaken over time. You may even end up with a collapsed ceiling and a ton of property damage. So it’s important to know how to identify ceiling water damage, and know what to do once you’ve found it.
Is it Water Damage?
Identifying water damage in your ceiling is often fairly easy, as it can be painfully obvious once it reaches a certain stage, but it’s a good job to know all of the signs to look out for. Outside of water leaking from your ceiling, some things to watch out for include:
- Slightly discolored spots — usually copper, yellow, or brown
- Peeling, cracking, or bubbling wall surfaces
- Discolored growths
- Odors indicative of mold or mildew
- Stains on ceiling
- Sagging ceiling
- Bulging drywall
Any of these indicate a likely moisture problem, and are important to address. Particularly if you have recently experienced bad weather, including rain, snow, or even harsh winds that might have dislodged shingles from your rooftop, you will want to make haste when investigating the cause of the ceiling damage.
Where is it Coming From?
One thing is for sure — the water is coming from somewhere, and you need to find out where. If the impacted ceiling is on the top floor of your home, the roof is the most likely culprit, whereas if you’re dealing with water damage to a ceiling with rooms above it, that’s where you should look.
There are two main culprits when it comes to water coming in from your roof — the quality of the roof, and the state of the gutters. If you’ve recently lost shingles in a storm, or you have a roof that’s aging and needs some TLC (or to be retired completely), repairing the roof will be the path to follow. On the other hand, it’s possible that your roof is just fine, but water is draining from your gutters into your home because they are clogged and the water has nowhere else to go.
The Room Above
There are a few possibilities when you’re experiencing a leak in a room beneath other parts of your home. If the bathroom is above the room in question, you may be dealing with poor or worn out waterproofing, and might just be getting spillover from a damp floor.
In the bathroom and other rooms, a leaky pipe could be to blame. If the pipe wasn’t properly or securely installed, has worn out with age, has been punctured by a nail, or has burst because of freezing, your pipe will need to be replaced or repaired.
Also consider whether there are any major appliances above the ceiling in question. An old refrigerator or washing machine may be leaking and need to be looked at by a technician.
Steps to Take
Stop the Water
Once you’ve identified the source, do what you can to stop the influx of new water.
If the water is coming from an appliance, don’t use that appliance. Be sure to take care if there is water pooled around the appliance and it is powered on. Don’t disconnect it from power if you can’t do so safely.
For leaky pipes, turn off the water source to the pipe until it can be repaired. If the water seems to be coming from a poorly waterproofed bathroom, refrain from using that bathroom, or lay down plenty of towels if you need to take a shower or do anything else that might cause water to seep through the floor.
Unfortunately, for a leaky roof, there isn’t much that can be done to stop the water flow itself — you’ll just have to take precautionary measures, such as moving valuables and furniture from beneath the leak, until it’s repaired.
Repair the Leak
Next, repair the leak. You may be able to take care of this on your own, if you’re handy with that sort of thing, or call in a professional. Take care the whatever is causing the leak gets repaired properly, or you’ll just be dealing with this problem again. Skipping to drying everything out and then going about your business as usual is only a temporary solution.
Dry Everything Out
Now is the time to get rid of the water that has accumulated, as well as any materials that have been damaged, and dry out what remains. This step is particularly important, because it is this drying that will keep mold from growing, which can be a major problem. It only takes 24 hours for mold to begin growing. Professional water restoration companies use moisture meters to verify the dry out is complete.
Remove materials that have been damaged, such as discolored materials, anything containing mold or mildew, and damaged drywall. Be careful not to cut through any electrical wires. This is the most dangerous part of this process, and one reason you may choose to reach out to a professional to take care of this step.
Use one or two industrial drying fans to fully dry out the areas above and below the damage. Make sure to get everything completely dry. Wait a couple of days, and check to see whether any new water has accumulated. If it has, you’ll know that the leak repair did not work as planned.
It is a good idea to bring in professionals when removing and drying out materials from a major leak, as they can assess the extent of the damage and make sure everything is taken care of properly.
Repair the Ceiling
For this final step, you’ll need to bring in a qualified company to repair and replace the ceiling, and any wall that had to be removed. It’s important to bring in someone to get it back up to code, including making sure it has proper insulation and is structurally secure. Your insurance may cover some of these expenses, so make sure to keep proper records.
Water damage to your ceiling isn’t something that should be ignored. If you are worried about ceiling water damage, call us today for a free consultation.
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