What Are the Causes of Water Damage on Ceilings?

Water-damaged ceilings are some of the usual problems that many homeowners dread. 

The issue usually starts with minor problems such as yellowish or rust-colored stains in your ceiling. But if these stains are ignored over time, the damage can lead to something far worse. Water damaged ceilings can eventually weaken your home’s structural integrity. In addition to safety risks, there are health risks due to the spread of mold and mildew, which thrive in a damp environment.


Those are the reasons why addressing water damaged ceilings is important. It’s better to identify the problem and address the root cause while the damage is minor and has not yet spread to the other important components of your roof’s structure. Covering up the stains with new paint may fix the way it looks, but it doesn’t address the underlying issue.

Nowadays, it is common for interior painting in Pleasant Hill contractors to offer other home improvement services such as repairing water damaged ceilings. Custom Painting, Inc. can identify the damage and its root cause early, avoid mold infestation and structural damage, and provide the restoration work needed depending on the degree of damage.

Signs of water damage on ceilings

Signs of water damage on ceilings

Aside from the obvious leaks, these signs of water damage on ceilings should not be ignored, even if they’re minor.

  • Stains or discoloration – The discoloration on your ceiling is usually yellow, dark brown, or rust-colored. 
  • Water rings – They are circular-shaped water marks on the ceiling so-called due to their circular shape. 
  • Musty smell – The disagreeable odor lingering in your space indicates mold and mildew infestation in your ceiling.
  • Mildew and mold – Mildew and mold are usually found along the corners, ceilings, and walls.
  • Installations separating from walls – If the leaks are dripping down your interior walls, it can cause your wallpaper, baseboards, crown molding, etc. to lose adhesion and separate from the surface.
  • “Sweating” walls – Moisture condensation on your walls causes them to “sweat.” This means a ceiling leak that occurs before mold or watermarks appear.
  • Sagging or bowed ceiling – A sagging or bowed ceiling is a giveaway sign of a leaking ceiling.
  • Paint damage – Peeling, flaking, cracking, or bubbling paint in your ceiling is also a sign of a ceiling damaged by leaks.
  • Sudden increase in water bills – If there is a bathroom or washroom above your ceiling, the most likely cause of ceiling damage is plumbing issues like a leaking pipe or damaged faucet or shower. This may be the reason behind the sudden and unexplained rise in your water bills.

What causes water damage on ceilings?

Water Damage on the walls

Leaks on ceilings may be caused by the following factors:

  • Damaged roof, which is the most common reason. Your roof may be aged or have taken an impact from fallen tree, thunderstorm, etc., that may have caused damage.
  • If there’s a bathroom or washroom above your ceiling, the leaks are likely the result of an issue with your plumbing, such as a leaking pipe or damaged faucet or shower.
  • Clogged gutters. A clogged gutter that isn’t draining properly allows the water to build up until it becomes too heavy. Then the trapped water has nowhere to go, so it spills out of the gutter and gets up under the roof coating, which can damage the edge of the roof’s surface and the materials underneath it. Over time, you will notice signs of water damage in your ceiling.
  • Condensation from your air-conditioning (AC) unit could damage your ceiling. Your AC unit may have a clogged drainpipe, or a full drain pan that may leak into your ceiling.
  • Excess moisture. If you live in an area with high moisture and humidity levels, it may cause your home to develop dampness and issues generated from it, such as mold and mildew and a leaking ceiling.

Hire professionals

Depending on the severity of the damage, you may want to go ahead and fix the water damaged ceiling by yourself or hire a professional painting in Pleasant Hill contractor to do the work. But it’s way better to hire a professional for a number of reasons:

  • Professional painters are licensed and insured, which offers you peace of mind, just in case some kind of an accident might occur.
  • You do not have to figure out how to do the repairs efficiently. The professionals have the skills, experience, and necessary tools to make sure that the ceiling is repaired successfully.
  • Savings on time. Professionals can finish the job in a fraction of the time that you would have spent if you repaired the ceiling by yourself.
  • Savings on money. Contrary to popular notion, hiring professionals may be cheaper as they can do the repairs faster and more efficiently. Plus, they provide quality work that will last for years so you don’t have to do repairs again very soon.
  • Professionals take safety seriously. They make sure that the ceiling is repaired to recommended safety standards.
  • Professionals provide quality results. They are equipped with skill and experience, and have access to the best paints, tools, materials, and equipment, ensuring that your ceiling is repaired, restored, and painted to a high-quality finish. When you hire a professional team of painters to repair and restore your ceiling, they will take all the necessary steps to make sure that you get the service you expect without fail.

Ways to prevent future water damage

Ways to prevent future water damage

Knowing the issues that cause ceiling damage enables you to take action and prevent such issues from occurring again. 

  1. Identify and address the root cause of water damage on ceilings. It is vital that you locate the source of the leaks in your ceiling. Otherwise, you’ll just keep making the same cosmetic repairs to your ceiling all over again. 

Find the source of leaks by inspecting the roof for holes or a missing shingle that allows water to flow into the ceiling. The roof may have aged or deteriorated over time, so in this case the roof should be replaced.

If there’s a bathroom above the ceiling, the cause of the water damage in your ceiling is most likely plumbing issues. If the pipe was incorrectly installed, has worn out with age, has burst out due to freezing, or has been punctured, your pipe must be repaired or replaced.

In case the source of the leak is your AC unit, a qualified electrician will repair its damaged components, particularly the clogged drainpipe and full drain pain.

  1. Fix the leak. Depending on the source of the problem, it’s better to hire a professional handyman to repair or replace the damaged roof, clog and replace gutters, etc., or a professional plumber to deal with damaged or improperly installed leaks, showers, sprinklers, faucets, etc. 
  2. Repair the ceiling. Let the ceiling and its supporting structure dry completely. Once the ceiling is completely dry, do the necessary repairs. They may simply consist of applying a stain-blocking primer to the affected area of the ceiling before painting it or involve complicated fixes that include placing a new piece of insulation, installing a new section of the ceiling, and then applying a fresh coat of paint. Whatever repairs you go for, make sure that it is executed as seamlessly as possible.
  3. Conducting regular inspections and doing the necessary maintenance on your roof, gutters, shingles, plumbing, etc. will prevent the old problems from occurring again in your ceiling, as well as avoid exorbitant repairs.
  4. If the surrounding environment has high levels of moisture and humidity, be sure to install proper ventilation such as exhaust fans. You may use a dehumidifier if needed.


Water damaged ceilings can put occupants at serious risk, so it is vital to know how to best prevent your ceiling from water intrusion in the first place. Watch out for the signs of water damage in your ceiling, including water stains, sweating walls, paint damage, sagging ceilings, aside from the obvious, which is water leaking from the ceiling. 

These signs of water damage on your ceiling may be caused by various factors, such as a damaged roof, clogged gutters, plumbing issues, a broken AC unit, etc. Whatever the root cause of the leaks, they must be addressed promptly to prevent these issues from happening again.

If you encounter visible water damage on your ceiling, take immediate action! Give interior painting in Pleasant Hill experts from Custom Painting, Inc. a call by phone at 925-686-0903 or send them a message to request a free estimate. Our paint experts provide ceiling restoration services in Pleasant Hill and other Bay Area cities  for homes and commercial spaces.