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How to deal with a ceiling leak

Put the plug in pesky ceiling leaks with our guide to stop water dripping from the ceiling.


deadling with ceiling leak using a bucket

Key steps

  • Locate where the leak is coming from.

  • Check old roof tiles as well as pipes.

  • Ensure you fix or replace faulty appliances.

  • Don’t forget to switch off the water.

  • Fix the leak before fixing the ceiling.

  • Ensure the ceiling is fully dry before fixing.

Besides ruining wall and ceiling paint, water leakage can cause mould and mildew in the home. Learn to spot a ceiling leak, what to do to stop the flow of water, and how to fix water dripping from the ceiling.

Once you have dealt with the source of the ceiling leak, it’s time to clean the surfaces below it. Use good quality products like Jif for this.

Dealing with water dripping from the ceiling: a step-by-step guide to fixing a ceiling leak

Ceiling leak left you with water dripping from the ceiling? Fix it in 5 steps:

1. Find the source

Knowing what causes water leaks will help you get started on the road to fixing it. Common causes of ceiling leaksare:

  • Poorly fitted, old or broken roof tiles.

  • Blocked gutters caused by bird nests or overgrown trees.

  • Poorly installed, old or damaged pipes.

  • An overflowing bath or shower.

  • Faulty appliances like washing machines or dishwashers.

2. Stop the flow

Now you’ve located the source, it’s time to plug it! This can be done by:

  • Shutting off the water at the mains.

  • Turning off the tap, shower, bath or appliance causing the leak.

3. Prepare the ceiling

You may be tempted to jump straight into fixing the ceiling but wait – there are a couple of steps to take first:

  • Empty the room or at least move furniture and possessions to the other side.

  • Place a bucket beneath the leak.

  • Drain as much water as you by making small holes in the ceiling with a screwdriver.

  • Dry the ceiling thoroughly. Hire an industrial fan to help speed this up.

  • Remove any flaking paint from around the stained area.

  • Cut a shallow inspection hole in the drywall of your ceiling around the leak.

  • If you see wires or pipes, call a professional to deal with the repair.

4. Fix the leak

While you should consult a professional for serious leaks or anything you’re unsure of, there are a few DIY methods you can try to fix small leaks:

  • Replace broken pipes that run through your celling and may be leaking.

  • Check and replace the seals around any brackets or connectors in your pipes.

  • Check the leak isn’t coming from the roof or gutters. Fix as needed.

5. Repair the damage

When you’re sure the leak has been dealt with, it’s time to repair any damage it’s caused:

  • Cut out the damaged piece of drywall from the ceiling.

  • Cut two planks of wood to fit the width of the hole. Attach them to the inside.

  • Cut a new piece of drywall to the shape of the hole.

  • Attach it to the wooden planks with screws.

  • Spread drywall compound over the patch. Repeat until you can’t see any screws.

  • Allow it to dry overnight then sand smooth before repainting. You may need to paint the whole ceiling rather than just the affected patch.

If you’ve only had a very small leak and don’t think a full repair is necessary then you can try simply cleaning and repainting the existing drywall once it’s dried out. Follow our tips on how to remove mould and mildew from the walls and ceilings first to tackle any fungal growth that’s sprung up as a result of the damp conditions.

How to prevent water leaking from your ceiling

Prevention is always easier than cure. Keep your home leak-free with these steps:

  • Regularly clean out your gutters.

  • Organise professional roof tile maintenance.

  • Keep appliances clean and maintained.

  • Keep a record of when pipes were last checked and replaced. 

With this easy-to-follow guide, you now know what causes water leaks as well as how to deal with them.

Originally published