DIY Ceiling Water Damage
You may think ceiling water damage and mold is easy to detect right away but the truth is the signs are very subtle. Some early signs to look for are peeling or bubbling of wallpaper, visible stains, mold, texture changes, higher utility bills, and unusual odors. Water damage and ceiling water damage can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in repair costs and depending on your homeowner’s insurance you might be fortunate to have it covered. Since repairs can be costly, homeowners might consider taking on repairs themselves to minimize the amount of money spent. However, how can you tell whether the cleanup is manageable or is it necessary to hire a professional? A seemingly small water leak can cause just as much damage as a full-scale flood or burst pipes. Ceiling water damage when left unfixed can cause a number of issues including but not limited to: severe structural damage, expensive removal of materials including insulation and drywall, and health complications. The effects of ceiling water damage can also affect the resale value of your home, especially when the appearance of the water damage is apparent and well documented. Detecting water damage can be tricky, as water leaks can remain hidden for some time. In order to discover the problem, you must pay attention to all the warning signs. Have you detected a musty or strong odor in your home? Do you have sagging walls or ceilings? Is there discoloration on the walls? There are a number of variables to consider when ascertaining the damage affecting your home.
So Where Did The Water Come From?
Water will often accumulate in one spot as the result of a water leak. The water more often than not is flowing from a given point and this is where you might notice sagging or other visible effects. If you notice water dripping from your ceiling or other visible signs such as soggy insulation it is very likely that there is more water than you can visibly see. Water drips run downward and eventually lands on the upper surface of the ceiling material, which is typically drywall or plaster. If there is ceiling water damage that is coming directly from below an attic space or the roof surface itself there is most likely damage to the shingles or other material that makes up the roof system of your home. Roof damage can occur from a variety of causes including tree limbs and debris, weather, birds and animals, and faulty gutters. All the above causes have one major thing in common which is water damage. A lesser-known cause of ceiling water damage can be the result of old caulking and plaster, which can cause water seepage. Due to normal wear and tear of living, plaster-and-lath ceilings are at the mercy of gravity and there are only so many structural movements and water leaks a ceiling can take before it can cause the structure to move away from the framing. Injecting an adhesive such as caulking between the plaster and lath can possibly restore the integrity of plaster ceilings temporarily. Bad piping, gutters, or a shower pan that has come into disrepair can also be the culprit of ceiling water damage. In this instance, you would need to find out from a trusted plumber as to whether or not your pipes are old and need to be replaced. If there are water stains coming from your roof you will need to identify the nature of the disrepair. For example, if the damage occurs after a period of inclement weather such as hail, flooding, or periods of snow you may need to upgrade your insulation and not your roofing. If you see water stains on your ceiling near the fireplace the culprit could very well be faulty chimney flashing which can cause damage to your roof, ceilings, or attic. The flashings are strips of metal that should fit tightly around your chimney. It is meant to be waterproof but should be checked by a professional ideally every six months, especially if the material has been subjected to storms and repeated weather damage.
If you have water damage in your ceiling you more than likely have mold, which can be extremely dangerous to your health. Mold as the result of water damage can cause a myriad of symptoms including rashes, headaches, dizziness, nausea, allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and lung infections. In the case that you suspect mold it is best to turn to a mold remediation service for professional results.
Do-It-Yourself Or Not?
Mitigating Water Damage
While it is not recommended that you perform your own ceiling repairs there are a few things you can do to prevent further damage until you can bring in a trusted professional to assess the damage thoroughly.
Find and stop the source of water. Locate and fix the roof leak or replace the leaking pipe with a new one. If you have access into the attic above the drip, find the leak and catch it with a bucket and mop up any standing water. If you cannot get into the attic above a leak and water is still dripping down from the ceiling you can prevent pooling and spread by punching a small hole through the ceiling’s surface allowing the pooled water to drain into a bucket
Dry the ceiling. Proper drying is also imperative when trying to repair ceiling water damage. Once you have sealed or fixed the leak you need to ensure proper airflow and eradicate the moisture entirely both below and above the ceiling. Before drying ensure that your floors and valuables are safe by covering them with plastic or moving them to a non-affected area. You can aid in drying before the professionals arrive by placing some fans facing towards the affected areas.
Remove the Damaged Ceiling After finding the source of the water leak it is recommended that you remove any water-damaged drywall. In order to do this, you should start by putting down drop cloths or tarps to catch the drywall and debris that will be created by removing the drywall. Also, be sure to check the drywall to see how much damage has been done. Use a utility knife to make a shallow cut around the damaged area. This shallow cut helps you avoid inadvertently stripping the paper face off of the undamaged drywall. If there are parts of the ceiling that are loose or bulging they need to be removed. This can be done easily with a paint scraper or taping knife, which will also help remove chipping and flaked surfaces. You can remove drywall by hand or use a tool such as a hammer to remove it. Be sure to wear a pair of safety glasses. Depending on whether or not the panels are structurally compromised, it is sometimes possible to cut out the damaged area while leaving the rest of the drywall unaffected. In this instance, you can make a patch with another piece of drywall for repair.
Prepping the Ceiling Surface. You will need to use sandpaper to smooth over the corrugations between the clean and affected areas. For larger affected areas in the ceiling, you will need to use new sheets of drywall. Small holes can be filled with a joint compound or sealant of your choice. Depending on the size of the gap you may want a higher viscosity sealant. Remove any remaining bumps with sandpaper.
Prime and Paint Ceiling If you are only trying to cover a water stain on your ceiling you can purchase a spray can of stain blocking primer or sealer and apply a light coat to cover it while avoiding dripping. However, if you skip applying a second coat of primer you risk the stains showing through. Once the primer has dried you can paint with the color of your choice. It is recommended to paint the whole ceiling for a uniform finish.
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