Is that Ceiling Discoloration a Roof Leak?

“How did that ceiling stain get there?” you may scream from the top of your lungs but the problem won’t go away until you fix it. And that doesn’t involve covering the stain with some paint. No, no, no! It includes identifying the source of the problem, fixing it, and then coming back to paint the ceiling. Let’s see the facts.

Ceiling discolorations imply water leaks. And the ceiling is the last destination of water. The question is where did it leak from? Is there a roof leak? A broken pipe? And one more thing. Addressing the ceiling discoloration without having fixed the actual problem first implies trouble. Why? Because you’ll put the problem behind you when you haven’t really solved it. One day you will simply find a hole on the ceiling – if not worse structural damage, and you will wonder why you didn’t take action when there was only some discoloration. So, let us take things from the beginning.

Identify the reason for the ceiling discoloration

rooferWhat’s over the ceiling? The roof? A bathroom? The attic? If you are lucky, the initial problem that led to the ceiling’s discoloration is above your head. Lucky, how? Well, water can easily flow along pipes causing damage to a different part of the property from where it started its journey.

Now, if you consider the possible culprits, you will realize how impossible is to identify the real cause of the ceiling discoloration.

•   Roof leak

•   Condensation in the attic

•   Broken water pipe

•   Hot water heater failure

•   HVAC leaks

What can really go wrong?

Roofing problems may easily cause leaks. And such problems include anything from broken or missing shingles to damaged flashing and ice dams. It just takes a broken shingle for water to penetrate the structure and discolor the ceiling.

Bathrooms are also common suspects when it comes to leaks. Backing sewages or even broken grout and insufficient caulking around showers and tubs may lead to leaks. A similar thing may happen with poorly caulked windows. In the attic, condensation builds up when there’s poor ventilation.

It’s vital to find what caused the problem to seek help accordingly – need a roofer, plumber…???

Fix the roof leak or any other problem

How can you tell if you need a roofing contractor or a plumber? Although this is not absolute, dry ceiling discolorations that get wet only when it rains signify roof leaks. If there’s anything else broken in the house – like a pipe, the ceiling discoloration will remain wet and get worse day by day.

Once the problem is identified, you need to call for service right away. Whether there’s a need for roof repair or to handle the condensation in the attic, you need to take quick action.

Are such problems fixable? They usually are. Even if it has to do with the roof, problems can be fixed by replacing broken shingles or repairing the flashing, caulking and sealing. When it comes to roofing troubles, there might be due to the formation of ice dams and so, you may need to take some action indoors to keep them from forming. Or the leak may relate to the rain gutters. If they are clogged or broken, there might still be a leak indoors.

Paint the ceiling

Paint the ceilingYou can return to see what you can do about the ceiling only when the above steps are completed – the source of the leak identified and fixed. Then, you can clean the ceiling discoloration as much as possible before you repaint the area. Before you do all that, you need to pay attention to two things.

First, you need to check that there’s no mold formation anywhere around or above the ceiling. Then, you need to be sure the ceiling is completely dry before you prime and paint it. Only then you can relax.