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Ceiling Water Damage – Small to Big Leaks

Ceiling Water Damage

We’ve published a couple of recent articles related to ceiling water damage. The first was about when you have a shower leaking through a ceiling in your property and the second was about the risks of a ceiling leak looking at things such as falling debris, potential asbestos (in textured coating ceilings, including artex) and possible electrical risks because of wiring for lights and sockets being present.

A lot of people contact us for help with water leak detection after spotting ceiling water damage in their property. Even though this damage can sometimes help locate the water leak, that does not necessarily mean it is obvious why the leak is coming from. Advanced water leak detection services to find a water leak are especially useful in hard to reach places such as under bathroom tiles in the floor etc.

Ceiling Water Damage Above
Ceiling Water Damage Above and Below

We have a similar article about roof leaks which you will find useful too. Additionally, another on having a Shower Drain Leaking in your home.

Ceiling Water Damage – How Much?

Clearly the extent of the risks and repairs from ceiling water damage restoration will vary according to a number of factors including the construction age and condition of the property. However, one of the big factors is how big the leak is (and therefore how much water is present). For example a slow dripping leak will be very different to sudden big water leak (for example a loft tank leak or break).

In this article we are going to look at different levels of ceiling water damage from small to large and look at how they might appear and what they might tell you about the water leak in your ceiling.

Ceiling Water Damage Repairs
Ceiling Water Damage – Needing Repairs

Repairing Ceiling Water Damage

Clearly, as we said above, the extent of ceiling water damage caused to your property can vary significantly. In fact, you may not actually have any visible ceiling water damage even though you have a leak in your ceiling, all the water damage may manifest itself elsewhere.

However, at the other end of the spectrum, a major ceiling leak could cause I very large amount of damage in a small period of time. As you might expect, the ceiling water damage repairs will vary from one case to the other, but we will look at that in more detail below.

It is important to note that on most occasions, each of the different forms of ceiling water damage below and the repairs that are needed will be accompanied by water damage restoration work, including drying and possible sanitization depending on the type of water leak.

Further down this article we will look at other types of repair that will be in addition to this drying.

Visible Ceiling Water Damage

In our article about the signs of a water leak, we discussed how people often suspect they have a water leak initially from seeing something like an unexpected damp patch on your ceiling, sometimes accompanied by black mould on ceilings. As we go through the list of different types of ceiling water damage we will look at how these might be seen differently.

The other thing to remember is that the longer a water leak is left the greater the ceiling water damage it will cause and the higher the risk of this too. Some of the things at the lower / smaller end of this scale can progress to the larger ones over time.

This is just one of the reasons while we say you should never ignore a water leak, the sooner you can find and fix it the better and the less ceiling water damage it is likely to cause.

Ceiling Water Damage Crack
Ceiling Water Damage – Hole and Crack

Damp Patch on Ceiling

Starting at the smaller end of ceding water damage is having a damp patch or ceiling water stain. Often this is simply a discoloration of the paint, plasterboard or wallpaper on your ceiling. The colour of the ceiling water mark will depend on the type of water that is leaking

For example a fresh, clean cold water feed will likely not stain as much as a bath leak. This in turn may not stain in as much as a toilet leak (for obvious reasons!). Whereas a central heating leak will likely stain more, especially if there is rust in the system or coloured inhibitor.

Clearly the amount of staining in the ceiling water damage will also depend on the material the water has passed through to get to the ceiling. Although this is not black and white, quite often older properties will see more staining than newer properties. This is especially the case on lath and plaster ceilings.

In terms of repairing a damp patch on ceilings following water leak damage, this is something that (if you are lucky) you may not need any ceiling water damage repairs. Other than perhaps some minor redecoration. That said, even redecoration can have some problems because it’s not always viable to depend a small patch and have the colour match. You may require the whole ceiling to be painted.

Ceiling Water Damage Collapse
Ceiling Water Damage Collapses

Crack in Ceiling

Moving on to the next level of ceiling water damage, quite often you will spot a crack in a ceiling. This type of ceiling water damage is usually caused because of one of two things. Firstly, because the weight of the water from the leak put strain on the ceiling causing it to crack. The second thing, which is related to the first, is because water getting into ceiling and perhaps wood around the ceiling can cause expansion and movement leading to cracks.

The ceiling water damage repairs for a crack in your ceiling after a water leak will depend on how bad the crack is (especially if other forms of damage are seen alongside it). However, in some instances of relatively small cracks in the ceiling, and assuming there is no structural damage, it may be possible to get away with small repairs and redecoration with filler and paint.

That said, ironically, cracks can end up letting water through which can widen them.

Ceiling Leak Crack
Ceiling Leak Crack

Bow in Ceiling – Water Damage

Moving upwards in the amount of ceiling loss damage is a bow in the ceiling. A bit like the example given previously with regard to a crack in your ceiling, a bowed ceiling (which may include a bowed ceiling crack too) will likely be caused by the weight of water and the distortion of the plaster.

Dry plasterboard is usually straight and rigid, whereas wet plaster and plasterboard become softer and may bend or bow. Clearly a large bow on your ceiling it’s likely to be a significant amount of water so do take care. Water can collect in a ceiling bow too, like a bowl effect.

In terms of repairing a bow in your ceiling after a water leak, this is likely to involve replacement of the plaster (even if it is just a patch or section) and possibly some of the other materials around. In some instances, depending on the level of ceiling water damage, further work may be required such as re-skimming the plaster on the ceiling. Clearly after that redecoration will be required.

Sometimes this can be a more localised bow, seen as a ceiling water bubble, holding leaking water.

Ceiling Water Damage Hole
Ceiling Water Damage Hole

Hole in Ceiling – Small or Large

Like some of the other things on this list a hole from ceiling water damage after a leak can be small or large and again, the size of this will depend on a number of factors.

That aside, a ceiling leak hole may follow some of the earlier things on this list if not caught early enough. Plus, sometimes when people are investigating ceiling cracks or damp patches, when they take a closer look they may spot that the plaster a soft or crumbling which may then cause a whole if it is pressed or examined.

Clearly as we have said before, take care if looking at ceiling water damage because there are a number of risks involved, Including the things we mentioned earlier. Ceiling water damage weather hole may only look small but it could cover a larger area than it initially appears.

In terms of repairing a hole in the ceiling this is likely to be similar to when you have a bowed ceiling following a water leak.

Water Damage Collapsed Ceiling
Water Damage Collapsed Ceiling

Ceiling Collapse

Top of our list of ceiling water damage in terms of severity is a full or partial ceiling collapse. Not only does this often mean a large water leak or a long term one building up slowly, and therefore more water damage, but also (a) carries higher risks and (b) is more likely to cause more than just ceiling water damage, especially the contents in the room below it. Definitely a situation where early water leak detection is beneficial.

As we said earlier a ceiling collapse after a water leak can happen gradually, or suddenly in some instances. Clearly, if you are in the property as I ceiling is gradually collapsing you will perhaps be more likely to spot that it is going to happen. However, if this is when you are out of the property at work, on holiday or even asleep at night you may not see this progressing and the first sign for you he’s coming back to a collapsed ceiling, perhaps with even an active water leak spraying.

As you might expect, in a situation like this the damage can be extensive and affect number of rooms and floors. In fact, if you have a large water leak in a ceiling and it goes unnoticed because you are away from the property and water is running constantly a large amount of damage can be caused.

This could then result in major water damage repairs and a large amount of reinstatement works, possibly including structural as well as redecoration. It can also need replacement of things like carpets and flooring and other things like that, including contents affected. Consequently, such a claim may have loss adjusters appointed to help.

Ceiling Water Damage Paint
Ceiling Water Damage and Paint Repairs

Ceiling Water Damage and Paints

One last thing that we want to talk about is how something like the type of ceiling paint can affect the type of water damage. For example, some silk type or oil based ceiling paints (which are often used in bathrooms or kitchens) are less penetrable, especially in comparison to standard emulsion paint. We talked about this little in our article about anti mould paint.

What this means is that if there is a water leak above a ceiling painted in a more watertight paint that ironically, may trap the water above and (because it is sometimes more flexible) not show cracks as much.

This can mean that the water builds up more above all spreads to other locations. although this depends greatly on a case by case basis. In some instances this can increase the risk of a ceiling collapsing under the strain and weight of all the water. There are plenty of viral videos showing this happening on YouTube and TikTok and some of them are not pleasant at all!

Here is one from YouTube for example:

Other Articles Relevant to Ceiling Water Damage

You may also be interested to see our quick test of Mr Muscle Drain Gel on a blocked sink. In some instances, a blocked sink can result in ceiling water damage below.

Ceiling Water Damage – FAQs:

Can you fix water damage on a ceiling?

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Whether or not you can fix water damage on a ceiling will depend on a few things but most importantly the size and severity of the leak will determine if you can fix or repair it rather than having to strip out or remove parts of the ceiling (plasterboard for example) or whether or not you will have to replace all or part of the ceiling affected. Remember that re water damage may affect other areas near the ceiling too.

What happens if you get water in the ceiling?

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If you get water in your ceiling, from a water leak for example you will need to take care. Not only do ceiling voids have things like electrical wiring and junction boxes in them, but if the amount of water is a lot, it can cause the ceiling to potentially collapse. Even though the damage may not look too bad from the surface, with water damage in ceiling voids, you need to understand if water is trapped in there which could cause other issues with the structure.

Should I worry about water damaged ceiling?

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Basically, you should be concerned with a water damaged ceiling because firstly, there is the risk of the ceiling breaking or collapsing (partially or fully). Needless to say this can cause a risk from falling debris. Plus you need to find the problem causing the water damage in the first place – is it a water leak or a leaky roof. Or is it something completely different. Either way, you need to find and stop the issue before repairs otherwise the damage may return again.

If you have need help finding a water leak at your home with our trace and access service, get in touch with our friendly team today. To find out how this service works, see our informative and step-by-step guide to trace and access. We offer these services to both domestic and commercial customers, including commercial leak detection.

As experts in both water damage restoration and leak detection, we have you covered. logo logo