How to Fix a Water-Damaged Ceiling

Fix it in 4 easy steps!


water damaged ceilingYou’re enjoying a lovely, relaxing evening at home. Maybe you’re sitting in the living room, enjoying a cup of hot cocoa by the fireplace. You lean back against the couch, do a leisurely stretch, look up towards the ceiling, and wait … what’s that bulging, brown spot on your white ceiling? That wasn’t there before! What should you do? Here’s how to fix a water damaged ceiling.

Step 1: Spotting Water Damage

Okay, probably not many people stretch and find a spot on their ceiling, nor do they make a habit of walking around looking at their ceilings. That’s why you should make a point to conduct regular inspections to identify any possible signs of water damage on your household ceilings. Blistered or peeling paint or a discolored spot on your ceiling, especially if it’s bulging, means water damage. And unfortunately, if you visibly see these telltale signs of damage, there is probably a lot more water somewhere that has caused it, which could lead to structural damage and hazardous ​mold growth. 

However, getting to the root of it quickly and having a local, trusted restoration company assess the damage and begin the water damage restoration process immediately, can keep a water issue from becoming a much bigger one. 

Step 2: Identifying the Source of the Water

It can be hard to find the source if the water travels far from the source of the leak and ends up in an unexpected place. However, keep in mind that ceiling leaks generally start from one of two places: the roof or plumbing. Water damage that is directly below an attic or roof, the culprit could be a leaky roof that’s been damaged by hail or an ice dam, or an issue with your chimney, caused by storm damage or age. Clogged gutters can also cause water issues near your roof line. Watch for these other signs to suspect to roof:

  • The ceiling appears wet during or soon after rainfall
  • Insulation is wet in the attic
  • The water is brown (it’s bringing dirt with it)

If you have a two-story home, water on a first-floor ceiling is most likely coming from a frozen, burst pipe or other plumbing issue upstairs. If the water damage is below plumbing pipes, such as a bathroom or kitchen, watch for these other signs:

  • There is no weather event
  • The leak is steady
  • The water is clear

In any case, a property restoration professional can assess your situation to identify the source of the water and find a permanent solution, before you undertake any cosmetic repairs.

Step 3: Removing Damaged Ceiling

Remove damaged ceiling materials and properly dry the area. Once the source of the water damage is repaired, it’s time to remove and replace damaged ceiling materials. Before starting, put on safety goggles and a dust mask as a trip to the emergency room would not make your day go any better. For easier cleanup, put down drop cloths to catch all the debris. Wet drywall will crumble and should be rather easy to tear out completely. If it is only stained, you can cut out the damaged portion and replace it with a new piece of drywall. If the damaged area is 12 square inches or more, consider replacing the whole drywall panel because it will need to be anchored to wall studs or ceiling joists. If your water damage occurred in your attic, make sure to remove and replace any damp or wet insulation. 

While you’ll most certainly want to get your ceiling repaired and get things back to normal, it’s imperative that you properly dry the area to avoid the possibility of future, unhealthy mold growth that might require mold remediation down the line. Your local property restoration company has specialized drying equipment that can generate the airflow needed to remove every trace of moisture from the affected area. They will also perform inspections throughout the drying process to ensure no mold or mildew has grown.

Step 4: Repairing the Damage

Restore your ceiling and the surrounding area. Once the water damage restoration is complete, it’s time to put your home back together! If you are replacing the drywall yourself, make sure to note how thick your existing drywall is. The process involves cutting a patch to fit your hole, screwing the patch into place on the wall, taping around the joint, and mudding. You may want to do an internet search for step-by-step instructions, or skip the hassle. Your property restoration company will have capable professionals equipped to make everything look brand new. When water damage strikes, get restoration done right. Make Hays + Sons your first call.

About Hays + Sons

For more than 38 years, Hays + Sons has been the property restoration company that families, businesses and schools trust. We’re committed to helping you be prepared when the unexpected strikes, and whether you just want tips for water damage prevention and mitigation or currently have water damage, Hays + Sons has the capacity and expertise to help you get back to normal ASAP. 

The compassionate, experienced, and trusted residential restoration experts at Hays + Sons are just a phone call away, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 

If you’re in need of water damage restoration, get in touch with us at one of our offices across Indiana or in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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