What To Do If Water Is Leaking Through Your Ceiling: Step-By-Step Instructions

ceiling with leak

If you see paint bubbling, drywall swelling, or brown rings forming in your ceiling, then you know there’s a leak you need to repair. However, before anything gets fixed, you first need to prevent the water from spreading and causing further damage.


Once you spot a leak, damage control is your top priority.

1. Get something to contain the water.

Grab one or more waterproof containers to catch dripping water. Line the containers with an old t-shirt or towel to prevent the falling water from splashing out when it makes contact.

2. Move or cover your furniture.

Move aside any furniture and decor in the path of the water. If something can’t be moved, drape a waterproof cover over it. A tarp or plastic sheeting works best, but if you don’t have either, you can use a vinyl tablecloth, vinyl shower curtains, a deflated kiddie pool, or a waterproof tent.

3. Soak up water on the floor.

If you don’t remove the water from your floor fast enough, the flooring could warp or develop a mold or mildew problem. Soak it up with a mop or old towels. You can also use a wet/dry vacuum (like a Shop-Vac) for a big pool of water.

4. Make a small hole for drainage

Though it may seem counterintuitive, you want to help the leaking water drain downward. This will prevent it from spreading across your ceiling and weighing down the building material.

Grab a sturdy ladder or stool, and poke the center of the dark or bubbling spot with a screwdriver to make a drainage hole--just make sure there’s something underneath to catch the water first! Don’t worry about creating a hole in your ceiling. If water is already soaking through, that section will need a repair anyway.

5. Call a plumber or roofer.

Even if you can’t spot the exact source of a leak, the weather outside is a good indicator of what type of leak you have. If it’s raining, you probably have a roof leak. If there’s no rain, you probably have a plumbing leak.


A plumber can help you identify what caused the leak. Typically, old, corroded pipes are the most susceptible to developing holes. Excessively high water pressure can also loosen pipes at their connections and make a leak there.

In some cases, clogs can cause enough pressure buildup to create leaks in pipe joints. If you notice slow and gurgling drains in your home or water backing up into your sink or shower, you should contact a professional about drain cleaning.

At Jackson Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, we tackle plumbing jobs of all sizes throughout Madison & Morgan Counties. To get help from one of our expert plumbers, give us a call at (256) 304-8883 or contact us online.

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