Water Stains on Your Ceiling: What Do They Mean?

One day a homeowner looks up and sees a water stain on the ceiling. The first question they will want answering is ‘what is causing the stain and will it get worse if nothing is done?’

Water stains on ceilings should be taken care of as soon as possible. The stain is there because water is leaking from somewhere in the house, internally or externally. Is it a leaking bathroom fixture upstairs? What about the roof? It could be a leaking pipe in the loft or coming from a damaged roof. First repair the cause of the leak and ceiling stain, then repair the stain.

What Is the Cause Of That Water Stain on the Ceiling?

Water stains on ceilings usually mean there is or has been a water leak somewhere. The stain can be the result of a heating appliance, plumbing, or roof leak. The water that made the stain might have evaporated away leaving behind mineral deposits forming a stain. Patching the stain without finding what caused it is a mistake because the leak will happen again and the stain will come back.

If the house has been recently purchased, try to find out if the cause for the leak was repaired before the house was sold. If it was repaired, the homeowner can go ahead and repair the stain.

But, if the cause of the stain is unknown, it is time to hire a plumber or a roofer to find the water leak and eliminate the cause for leaks. Roofing companies such as Wildwoodroof.com can inspect the roof for damage and wear. A plumber can determine where in the upper floor of the house the leak originated. If you have a one-story home without HVAC or water heaters in the attic, you can assume the leak is from the roof.

A plumber may discover a leaky pipe, bad caulking in a shower stall, or an improperly insulated pipe that is sweating. The home may have old pipes that need replacing. A water heater may be worn out and leaking or a toilet may be the culprit. Another cause for that stain might be a bathtub that was allowed to run over or a toilet that overflowed in the past. Another possible cause is an upstairs radiator that is leaking.

Addressing the Cause

Once the cause of the leak is discovered, it must be addressed. Necessary repairs must be made. Defective appliances, fixtures or pipes must be repaired or replaced. Pipes that are not properly insulated, must have the correct insulation added so they no longer have condensation forming. If the cause of the leak or flood was a frozen and burst pipe, that length of pipe must be replaced and the insulation protecting it from freezing must be added to.

The roof may have undetected damage or be at the end of its life allowing rainwater to enter the house to damage walls and ceilings. A roof leak must be repaired or the roof replaced if necessary.

Does the Roof Need Replacing?

A roof leak may not result in a whole roof replacement. The roof may need repair rather than replacement and that will save the homeowner money. Hire a dependable roofing contractor with good references and ratings to inspect the roof. Wildwood Roofing in St. Louis has licensed roofing estimators that give free, no-pressure roof inspections and work estimates.

After an inspection, this professional will talk with the homeowner and explain what the roof’s problems are and what extent or repair is needed, or if the roof needs to be replaced. There are several factors affecting the cost and extent of roofing services:

1. The roof has a pitch or ratio of height to length. This is expressed in numbers such as 4:12 which represents 4 feet of height to 12 feet of length. A steeper roof is better for water runoff but more expensive to repair or replace because of roofing company insurance rates.

2. Water damage can increase the scope of a roof repair project. Standing water or water damage can affect the roof deck making it unsafe to work on or nail shingles to unless the rot is cut out and replaced. Once this is done, a whole new roof might be needed.

3. The kind of roofing material existing on the roof. For instance, a slate or clay tile roof will be more expensive to repair than an asphalt shingle roof. The common expense level by material goes like this: Slate, tile, metal, wood, and last asphalt shingles. The cost balances out because the materials most expensive to repair also last longer and need fewer repairs.

Once the roofing experts have determined where the roof leak originates and a plan of action, a roof repair can be accomplished or a new roof can be installed.

Now Fix the Stain

Once the water leak source has been found and eliminated, it is time to fix the damage and those ceiling water stains. It is not just the visible stain that must be repaired. Any mold, wet sheetrock or insulation, and rotted material must be removed and replaced. Once everything is dry and in good repair, it is time to fix the stains which can be both on the ceiling and on upper wall areas.

* Clean all the stains with a bleach solution of one cup of bleach to three cups of warm water. This step will help the primer stick to the ceiling by removing mildew, dirt, grease, or dust. To do this job, put protective covering on the floor below the stains. Soak a sponge in the cleaning solution and climb a ladder to wipe down the stain. Next, rinse the area with water in a spray bottle. Last, wipe the area with a clean dry cloth and allow it to dry completely.

* Now it is time to apply a coat of oil-based stain-blocking primer to the stained area with the correct roller for the type of ceiling. Let it dry for at least two hours.

* Cover the primed area with a good quality ceiling paint that matches the existing paint. Use a roller for this coat also. Then let the paint dry for four hours and apply a second coat that is feathered out to blend with the existing paint. In some cases, the homeowner will end up covering the whole ceiling with a new coat of paint to achieve a flawless look.

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