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Why is Water Leaking Through The Ceiling?

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By 1-800-Plumber + Air

May 30, 2023

A leak in the ceiling from the bathroom is a potentially costly emergency. The faster you act, the sooner you can eliminate the source of the water damage and keep the damage to a minimum. At 1-800-Plumber + Air, we're here to help whenever you see your bath leaking through the ceiling. We specialize in complete plumbing repairs and services, and our team of professionals is available 24/7 for plumbing emergencies. If you see tell-tale wet spots or hear dripping water through your ceiling after the shower has been used, contact us to schedule a quick service appointment with free upfront pricing and expert service.

Why Does My Ceiling Leak When I Shower?

If you have an upstairs shower and the ceiling starts to leak after the shower is in use, that indicates your shower's pipes, drain, or flooring doesn't have a watertight seal. The water isn't flowing from the shower head to the drainage pipe as it should, and water is seeping into the subceiling between the shower and the room underneath.

A leak in your ceiling from the bathroom is a plumbing emergency. It means water is getting into the walls at potentially high volumes, where it can destroy the drywall and insulation, cause mold and mildew to develop, or (left too long) present a structural hazard as it softens the wood in the walls.

Can a Small Shower Leak Cause Much Damage?

Even small shower leaks can cause a lot of damage. A leak in the ceiling from the bathroom means the water is penetrating all the way through to the ceiling above you. This could indicate a crack in the shower pan, allowing water to drain into the ceiling, or problems with the drain line. Subceilings contain a lot of expensive and essential layers, including insulation, support beams, air ducts, and the flooring and ceiling materials themselves. When small shower leaks are allowed to continue, the water can cause irreparable damage to all of the surfaces it touches, leading to mildew, rot, corrosion, and softened construction materials that need to be entirely replaced.

How to Stop Shower Leaking Through Ceiling

The only way to stop a leak in the ceiling from your bathroom is to find the source of the leak and repair it. A professional plumber can troubleshoot water leaks to find the fixture at fault, locate the damaged area that water is leaking through, and make the appropriate repairs to stop the water. Then you or a home repair service can restore the ceiling and bathroom to their previous condition before the leak.

These three problems are the most common sources of a bath leaking through the ceiling:

1. Fix a Leaking Water Pipe

Leaking water supply pipes or drainage pipes can allow water to escape and drain into the surrounding building materials. Over time, the water will penetrate the subceiling below and lead to visible water stains or ceiling damage. Plumbers can resolve the issue by replacing cracked pipes, replacing old and dry o-rings, or reconnecting pipes with a better seal.

2. Repair Damaged Bathroom Tile

Cracked bathroom tiles can give water a way to seep beneath the surface, especially if you have a tile shower wall or a tile shower pan. Over time, the tile can crack, or the grout between the tiles can wear away and let water pass. Horizontal surfaces in your shower, such as soap shelves, the joint between a bathtub and shower walls, and the floor, are prime candidates for sitting water, damage, and leaks.

3. Fix a Leaking Drain Gasket

The drain gasket in the shower floor is vulnerable to damage and wear. The seal can break or wear away, or the drain shoe can crack. These problems will allow small or large volumes of water to escape and drain down onto the ceiling below rather than being routed to your home's drainage.

In next month's issue, we'll explore the steps you can take to address these potential leaks and keep your shower leak-free. If you have a bath leaking through your ceiling now, schedule an emergency service appointment online or at 1-800-Plumber +Air for fast repairs.

4. Faulty Shower Faucet

When you turn on your shower, you're turning a valve within the shower faucet. The valve relies on gaskets and seals to completely close the way when the shower is not in use and to contain the flow of water when it's on. But those rubber or plastic parts can break down over time and either let a small drip or a steady stream out into the wall interior.

5. Clogged Shower Drain

If there's a deep clog inside your shower drain pipe, the water will build up. Standing water (especially water under pressure from its own weight) exerts a lot of force on the pipes and can cause a leak. Unfortunately, shower drains can't often take a direct route to the ground, and you might find a leak in the bathroom ceiling far away from the shower itself. If you notice a clog starting to form or water is draining more slowly than usual, treat the clog immediately before you see water spots on your ceiling or underlying walls.

6. Your Toilet Has a Broken Wax Ring

Sometimes, it's not a bath leaking through the ceiling. Instead, the drainage system from your upstairs toilet may be at fault. Over time, the wax ring sealing your toilet's drainage to the main drain pipe can break down or become loose. Also, while wax rings can last several years or even decades if installed properly, wax-free rings are less likely to maintain a long-term seal. If you trace the water damage back to your toilet, check the area for standing water and see if the toilet base feels loose.

How to Minimize Damage From Water Damage in Your Home

Water damage can get pricy—and dangerous—fast. The best thing you can do to minimize damage is to hire a plumber quickly. In the middle of a plumbing emergency, you can shut off localized water supplies, as most appliances and fixtures should have a water valve nearby. You can also shut off water to the entire house if you need a quick fix to stop spraying water. Once the emergency is contained, call a plumber for troubleshooting and free upfront pricing.

Should You Call a Plumber Right Away?

Yes! Calling a plumber quickly can make all the difference in the total amount of damage and cost. After all, water can spread quickly and do a lot of damage before it becomes visible. Once you call a plumber, they can trace the water damage back to the source and determine if the fixture needs new gaskets, seals, minor repairs, or new connecting pipes. Then, after the plumber finishes their work, you can start mitigating the water damage and drying out the area with more peace of mind.

Call 1-800-Plumber + Air for All of Your Plumbing Needs

If you see a water leak in your ceiling from the bathroom, don't wait. Our team of experienced local plumbers is standing by to provide routine and emergency plumbing services. Call us at 1-800-Plumber + Air to schedule a service appointment or schedule a service online, and we'll provide free upfront pricing.