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Water Damage to your Ceiling? Here’s What to Do

Water Damage to your Ceiling? Here's What to DoA ceiling leak needs to be taken care of quickly and carefully. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to repair water damage to your ceiling.

Ceiling leaks are often easy to spot, but difficult to treat. Water damage to the ceiling is caused by a variety of issues, including burst or leaky pipes, a toilet or bathtub that overflowed, or a leaky roof.

Ceiling leaks come in two categories – slow leaks and large leaks. Slow leaks can start with a trickle and often lead to yellowish-brown stains and mold. Large leaks are more obvious and can cause structural damage to the ceiling. In both cases, it’s important to catch the causes early and know what to do. Check out our step-by-step guide to treating ceiling damage.

Step 1: Locate and fix the cause

When dealing with a leaky ceiling, it’s important to find the cause of the leak as soon as possible. Plumbing issues and leaky roofs are the most common causes of water damage.


If the cause isn’t obvious, check the bathroom caulk, which can wear away, letting water drip through the walls. Pipes can also sweat in the winter or summer. Fixing any plumbing issues is an essential first step if this is the cause.

Leaky roof

If you’re dealing with a leaky roof, take a look at the shingles. Damaged shingles are a common cause for leaks and should be fixed quickly.

Step 2: Dry out your ceiling

Make sure to dry out your wet ceiling and the wood joists inside quickly to limit mold growth and water damage. Regular house fans are an option, but they can take days or weeks to fully dry the ceiling. To prevent water damage to your ceiling, your best bet is to use a high-volume fan and a structural drying dehumidifier. The right equipment can shorten the drying process from about six hours to a full day.

A moisture meter is a great way to ensure the ceiling is fully dry.

Step 3: Repair the damage

If your ceiling only has minor damage, you can usually repair the area without having to replace the drywall or plaster. Simply remove loose debris by scrubbing the area with a brush, then wipe it with a clean, damp cloth and air dry.

Any small cracks can be fixed with plaster or drywall mud. Gaps that are less than half an inch wide can be fixed using a putty knife. Wider gaps should be filled in and then sanded smooth.

For major damage, the affected area will have to be cut away and replaced. Box cutters or drywall saws are an effective tool for cutting through drywall ceilings. Once you’ve taken the damaged drywall off, cut a new piece smaller than the hole and make sure to screw it into the joists. Seal the gaps by taping the joints. If your ceiling has plaster, you’ll have to replace the backing material (or lathe) and apply new plaster in thin layers. Make sure each layer is dried before applying more plaster.

Step 4: Seal and paint the damaged area

The last step is to paint the damaged area. Start by using a sealing primer. Not only will this stop the ceiling from soaking up paint, it’ll also cover water stains. Once you’ve applied at least two coats of primer and let those coats dry, you can start applying your top coat.

Repairing ceiling damage – minus the stress

Fixing water damage to your ceiling doesn’t have to be an overwhelming job. If you’re quick to find and fix the cause, dry the area properly and repair it well, your ceiling should look like new. For a major leak, it’s a good idea to call in an expert to ensure your ceiling is repaired properly

Need a restoration specialist? Touch With Care’s highly experienced team is prepared to act quickly across Toronto and Mississauga. We respond within the hour to limit the possibility of water damage, electrical dangers, the growth of mould and bacteria, and structural harm to your home or business. Contact us when disaster strikes.