How to Handle Leaking Plumbing in a Ceiling: Advice from an Expert Plumber

leaking plumbing in ceilingI used to watch a lot of terrible movies when I was younger. You know the type, right? Movies so bad they’re good—the ones filled with cheesy cliches, corny dialogue, and ridiculous plotlines. I watched them because they really helped me relax; I could just kind of turn my mind off for 90 minutes.

One of the things that I’ve noticed happens a lot in movies that are so bad they’re good is that an old house or a crummy apartment will have some kind of a plumbing leak in the ceiling to emphasize just how lousy the main character’s current situation is. I didn’t think about it all that much back then, but now I handle this exact situation as a professional plumber, I can tell you that any kind of leak in a ceiling is a nightmare—one that most people are not prepared for.

That’s what I want to talk about today: how it really pays for you to know how to handle leaking plumbing in a ceiling. The fact is, ceiling leaks don’t just happen in the movies. They happen in real life to real homeowners, especially in older homes like the ones we have here in Sacramento.

In bad movies, a leaky ceiling might be a sign that a character lives in a crummy apartment, but in real life, it’s a serious plumbing crisis. Don’t get caught off guard, or you could find yourself facing all kinds of severe and avoidable damage, both inside your ceiling as well as to the furniture and other items below it. Here are the three steps for how to handle leaking plumbing in your ceiling.

Step #1: Know the Causes of Leaking Plumbing in Your Ceiling

One of the first and most important things for you to do if there’s any hint of leaking plumbing in your ceiling is to know what the potential causes are. This will let you then effectively look for signs of trouble. Some of the potential causes are obvious, but others might be a little more difficult to pinpoint. plumbing leak in ceiling

With that in mind, let’s take a look at common causes for leaking plumbing in a ceiling:

  • A leak in an upstairs toilet: A leak in an upstairs toilet is probably the most common reason I see for leaking plumbing in a ceiling. It’s usually because of a break or a defect in the seal of the wax ring that affixes the toilet to the floor. When this seal gets broken, every flush then causes water to break through the bathroom floor. It then pools above a downstairs ceiling before ultimately leaking through it.
  • A leak in your water supply: The next most common cause for leaking plumbing in a ceiling is actually connected to the first because its a leak in the water supply that is attached to the toilet (or less commonly to the sink trap). What happens in this case is that water is escaping at the point where two supply lines join together. Another possibility is that it’s leaking because the drain pipes’ connector joints aren’t joined tightly enough. Either way, it’s a problem.
  • Broken drain pipes: The third cause is rarer than the first, but when a drain pipe does actually break, it usually leads to leaks that appear and disappear on your ceiling, which means that this one is the hardest to pinpoint.

Step #2: Look for Signs of Trouble Before a Visible Ceiling Plumbing Leak

Now that we know our most common potential causes of leaking plumbing in a ceiling, it’s time to look at how you can identify signs of trouble—before the situation gets too serious.

The longer it goes unchecked, the more you open yourself up to related problems, like mold.

As you may have by now guessed, by the time leaking plumbing in your ceiling is visible, it’s a big, expensive problem that requires the help of a professional plumber to fix. The longer it goes unchecked, the more you open yourself up to related problems, like mold. Simply put, it literally pays to know which signs of a plumbing leak you should be looking for.

Here are some signs of trouble you should look out for:

  • Water leaking through the ceiling after flushing the toilet: If you suspect that a problem with the upstairs toilet is the culprit for your ceiling leak, there’s a simple way to check. Just go upstairs, flush your toilet, and see if water comes dripping down through the ceiling. If it does, I highly recommend that you immediately call a professional plumber.
  • Damp supply lines: If a toilet flush doesn’t reveal a cause, the next thing you should do is go upstairs and check the supply lines to both your toilet and any sinks to see if they’re damp. If they are, you’ve got a leak. You can try tightening it yourself, but if that doesn’t work my advice is the same as above—call a professional plumber to come take a look ASAP.
  • No discernible cause: If neither of the above two checks yields a culprit but your ceiling is still leaking water, then it’s definitely time to call a professional plumber—immediately. The team at Bell Brothers has years of experience. Our advanced equipment can find the culprit—even if you haven’t had any luck yourself.

Step #3: Call for Help If You Have Leaking Plumbing in Your Ceiling

This last section is by far the most important. When it comes to how to best handle leaking plumbing in a ceiling, the first thing you have to recognize is that it’s a serious problem, one that will most likely require a professional plumber to both identify and fix, much like plumbing problems we’ve talked about in the past, from main sewer clogs to sudden plumbing emergencies.

Even if you’re a skilled handyman or plumber, there is no shame in calling a pro to handle this plumbing problem.

Even if you’re a skilled handyman or plumber, there is no shame in calling a pro to handle this plumbing problem. Given what’s at stake, you will certainly be glad that you can trust a professional. The bottom line is that leaking plumbing in a ceiling is a lot of fun in bad movies. It is not, however, very much fun in real life when it becomes costly and damaging. You just don’t want to have to deal with that.

So heed my advice and call a professional plumber if you’re dealing with this issue. The expert team at Bell Brothers is a great choice for the job. In fact, we’ve dealt with so many instances of leaking plumbing in ceilings over the years that you’ll be able to just sit back—and maybe even head to a dryer room to watch a bad movie while we do the work.

At Bell Brothers, our trained plumbing professionals would love to help you with any leaky situation you might have as well as normal upkeep questions about your pipes. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation.

Image courtesy AndreyPopov