Our roof and ceiling can’t talk. But if there’s something wrong, they will let us know. This usually comes in the form of water spots on the ceiling after it rains. When you see them, you just know that something’s wrong and that something needs to be done.
They’re very annoying to look at. They’re not just simple annoyances, though. They’re much more than that. While they present an aesthetics problem, they present several other problems that will make you hire the first roofer that you find.
It’s safe to assume that these spots are caused by a problem with the roofing. However, there are several potential causes and it’s a good idea to know these causes so you can pinpoint which one is causing the issue. It’s not as if you should simply replace the roof if you see water stains. While that will obviously solve the issue, it’s not the most efficient solution if the cause of the problem can be solved with a repair job.
If you’re like most homeowners, you don’t really know where to start looking. It’s not as if you can just look at the roof and immediately see what the problem is. Also in a lot of cases, it’s not as if you can simply trace the water spots upwards and expect to see the cause of the leaking directly above them.
This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide so you’ll know everything there is to know about this issue. First and foremost, you’ll know the importance of repairing the roof leak. Just in case you don’t think this is an emergency issue, you’d understand the gravity of the situation.
In addition to these water spots, there are other signs of water damage that you should watch out for. This article will also talk about the most common signs so you’ll be made aware of them.
You’ll also know the common places where it leaks. This way, you’ll know the first areas to check. In addition, you’ll also know how to find the roof leak just in case it’s not in these common places.
You’ll also learn how to handle water stains. Find out what to do about them. Best of all, you’ll learn how to find the best person to hire for the job. Yes, resist the temptation to hire the first roofing contractor that you see even if you’ve already acknowledged that it’s an emergency. We’ll provide you information on a helpful free tool that can help you solve this issue once and for all.
Importance of Repairing the Roof Leak
It’s really unfortunate that a lot of homeowners put off repairing their roof leak. This is especially true if it’s only leaking during hard rain. They stop thinking about it when it stops raining and leaking, not realizing that the main problem didn’t go away.
You see, the leaking itself is not the problem. It’s a result of the problem. Even if it’s not leaking, the problem is still there, ready to start leaking once it starts raining again. The issue is going to get worse even it’s not leaking.
Why is it important to repair it at once? It’s because you wouldn’t want the issue to get worse. For now they could be just some barely noticeable water spots, but next time it could be a full-blown flooding.
If you’re not convinced, here are some more specific and compelling reasons:
- It can weaken your home’s structural integrity.
Now it can be water spots in the ceiling. What you don’t know is there might be other parts of your home that are affected. You don’t know for sure where the water leaks to in addition to the ceiling.
For all you know, parts of your home’s framing are already exposed to leaks and are starting to rot. This can drastically affect the structural integrity of your home.
- It can damage your home and its contents.
It’s not just your home’s framing. Your home itself will get damaged. The water will trickle down to other parts of your home and its fixtures. It can also damage its contents like appliances, furniture and even clothing. Imagine the stuff in your attic experiencing water damage!
Worse, it can cause total damage to your home if it starts a fire. Yes, that can happen, as the electrical wiring can short because of exposure to water.
- It can cause health issues.
In addition to rot, wood that has been exposed to leaks can also experience the growth of mold and mildew. They will spread to other parts of your home and will start spreading harm from day one. This is because they can cause a wide range of respiratory illnesses. If you have kids, elderly or family members suffering from asthma and the likes, then the risk is worse.
Also remember that a roof is supposed to protect you from the harmful elements. If it’s not doing its job, then you’re exposing yourself and your family to these elements.
- It can threaten your security.
What if the leaking is caused by a hole in the roof? It can be an entry point for pests. It can also make it easier for an intruder to gain access to your home.
- It’s not going to go away.
It’s not going to fix itself. Forget about it today and it’s just going to remind you later on that it needs fixing. When that happens, you can be sure that it’s going to cost more and will require more time and effort.
Signs of Water Damage
Water spots are clear signs that there’s water damage. But in their absence, you may need to proactively look for other signs. In a lot of cases especially when the damage is just starting, water damage is not that obvious. When in doubt, look for these signs of water damage:
- Accumulating water
Do you see a pool of water inside your home? You have to ask yourself where it’s coming from. Look up, because it could be because of a leaking roof.
- Water stains
They usually appear in the ceiling. They’ll start as simple water spots until they start discoloring. Water stains are usually brown in color but they can also be color copper or yellow.
You should also check the walls for water stains. The leaking water can also find its way to the walls.
- Peeling paint
In addition to staining, the paint can also bubble or peel. This can also happen if your walls are covered by wallpaper.
- Damaged floor
Your floor can get damaged as it gets exposed to water. It can warp as it gets exposed to humidity and regular changes in temperature. This can lead to gaps. It can also buckle, sag, sink or expand. These things can happen as the floor rots.
- Mold and mildew
They have no place in any home. If you see them, then there’s obviously water damage.
- Bad odor
Water damage can also cause a bad odor especially if mold and mildew have developed. Water that has accumulated will have a distinct smell together with mold and mildew. The bad odor will usually be present in the basement, attic or walls.
Common Places Where it Leaks
Water easily flows and as such, it can leak anywhere in your home. Most of the leaks, especially the ones that cause the water spots on ceiling after it rains, are from the roof. Here are the most common places where it leaks:
A gutter is not supposed to leak. Its main job is to lead the water from your roof into a set place where the water can’t affect the home and its foundation. It will do its job all the time as long as it’s installed right. That is, until it gets clogged.
A clogged gutter will create a leak. This is especially true during a heavy rain. Water will accumulate if it’s clogged and this will stop the flow of water to where it’s supposed to flow. The accumulated water will instead leak into the eaves of your home and will find its way to the ceiling, the walls, and the rest of your home.
Another thing that may happen is the gutter will separate from your home. This is because of the weight caused by the debris and the accumulated water. It will cause leaking even if it’s just a small separation.
What do you need to do? The solution to a clogged gutter is simple – remove the debris that is causing the clog! Make sure to check the downspouts as well.
The main challenge here is ensuring your safety. You’d need to use a ladder and that can be dangerous. This is why most homeowners just hire a professional. That’s actually not a bad idea.
You can also lessen the chances of clogging in the future by installing a gutter shield. This will help stop the debris from accumulating since it will shield the gutter from the debris.
- Roof valleys
Your roof has valleys. These valleys are formed by two intersecting planes. They form a V shape and they run down the roof’s slopes.
They can be pretty to look at, but they can start trouble. Water passes through them and a lot do pass especially during a heavy rain. They can also hold snow and the melted snow will pass through them as well.
These should be okay, but these issues will cause trouble:
- You hired an incompetent roofer that created shallow valleys.
- An incompetent roofer may have placed nails in the wrong places like in the valleys’ low spots.
- The valleys are rather flat by your roof’s eaves.
- There’s debris in the valleys.
- An ice dam has formed.
These things can slow and even stop the flow of water. This will lead to water pooling instead of flowing to the gutter. The pooled water may find its way to your ceiling.
Most of these issues can be solved by removing the debris so water can flow freely. In some cases, you’d need professional help to replace and fix the placing of the shingles. A competent roofer can also install water and ice shields.
If damaged, shingles can lead to leaks. They can get cracked and this will lead to gaps where water can flow through.
Are your shingles damaged? Watch out for these signs:
- Missing granules that may indicate damage from impact of hail.
- Dents in the roof vents that may indicate damage from impact of hail. Chipped paint can also indicate the same thing.
- You see some areas on your roof that look darker than other areas. This is probably because shingles have been blown off.
- You see huge and heavy debris like tree branches. The impact of their fall may have damaged the shingles.
- You can see water pooling.
So what do you do? First of all, you remove the debris so you can have a better look. Perform a more thorough inspection to see if you see damaged shingles. You need to replace the damaged shingles.
While you’re at it, you should also seal holes and gaps by applying a flexible roof sealant. Check exposed nail heads as well.
If you see a lot of damaged shingles, it might be better to just replace the whole roof. In this case, you have to talk to a professional.
- Roof vents
Most households can benefit from roof vents. They help improve the air circulation of your home particularly in your attic. This makes the attic more comfortable in the summer months. As a huge bonus, roof vents can also lengthen the lifespan of your roof.
However, some are so poorly-designed that water can pass through them. If you have a mushroom-shaped vent that sits flat on your roofing and has exposed sides, then it could be the reason for the water spots on ceiling after it rains. Rain can get through the sides and the water will eventually find its way inside your home.
A simple solution would be to install a screen wire around the sides. This will serve as a barrier so that the rain won’t be able to pass through. While you’re at it, apply a flexible roof sealant to any gaps. You should also check the shingles around the vents and replace them if necessary.
- Vent pipes
Vent pipes are inserted through the roof. A competent roofer would have installed a pipe boot and flashing in order to seal the hole made. These will prevent rain from seeping through. However, they can get damaged, and that will lead to cracks and gaps. These are where water can pass through when it’s raining.
If it’s the boot that’s been damaged, you need to overlay it with a new and better boot. Make sure to apply caulking to properly seal.
To make sure that no water will pass through, you should also apply a flexible roof sealant to seal gaps and holes. Apply it in the flashing and the shingles that surround the vent pipes. If you think that the flashing and shingles need a replacement, replace them as necessary.
Think of the chimney as a vent pipe, only bigger. It’s a big installation that’s not an original part of the roof so expect it to cause problems if it’s not at its 100%.
It could be leaking simply because its cover is damaged. You can also check the crown because it can lead to leaking if it’s cracked. Gaps can also appear in the veneer of the chimney or even in the mortar. Just like with the other common places where it leaks, worn out flashing or damaged sealant will also lead to leaking.
To reiterate the importance of hiring a professional roofer, a valley located at the roof slope’s bottom that has been improperly designed can pool snow and debris. This will lead to water pooling. This is actually the cause of most problems listed above.
You may need to replace the chimney cover. It’s also a good idea to apply a flexible roof sealant to all gaps. If after an inspection you’ve determined that the flashing and shingles are not at 100%, now’s a good time to have them replaced. You can also have a chimney cricket installed in order to funnel water around the chimney.
This is another popular roofing installation. Homeowners love them because of how they introduce natural light into the home, but skylight can also start leaking when it rains. There could be gaps around it. The upper edge can also accumulate debris with it being a flat surface.
Again, apply a flexible roof sealant wherever needed. Close up any gaps between the window and its frame using caulk. You should also replace the flashing and shingles if necessary.
Make sure to also check if it’s not condensation that’s causing the leaking.
Windows, especially those installed in the attic, can also cause water spots on ceiling after it rains. The window itself may be leaking because of cracks and gaps. In addition, cracks and caps in the siding can also lead water to the window and make it look like that it’s the window that’s leaking.
We’re also including windows on this list because the source of the leak could be the roof itself. Water somehow found its way to the windows. If you see a leaking window, there’s a good chance that there are leaks elsewhere.
A solution is to apply flexible sealant to gaps and cracks. Actually, it’s better to just contact a professional so he can trace the source of the leak and solve it.
How to Find the Roof Leak
A lot of homeowners think that it’s very easy to find a roof leak. They’re under the impression that the source of the leak is directly above the spot that they see on the ceiling. While that sometimes happens, it’s not automatically that way.
You know how water easily flows. It will flow through the easiest path it can find. It will make turns. This means that in most cases, you have to trace back. This makes finding the roof leak a challenge.
Here’s a step by step guide on how to find the roof leak, or you can check out the video instead:
- As soon as you see leaks during a heavy rain, go up the attic armed with a flashlight.
- Once in the attic, use the flashlight to inspect the rafters and the decking directly above the water spots on the ceiling.
- At this point, it’s all about tracing the water up to its highest point.
- Use a tape measure to find the distance between the roof peak and the leak’s highest point and over its gable end.
- Once the rain has passed and it’s safe to go up the roof, use the measurement to find the source of the leak. Make sure that you consider the overhang.
- Once you’ve found the spot, examine that area for possible reasons why it could be leaking. Once you’ve found it, perform the necessary solution.
- If you can’t find a possible reason for the leaking, trace further back up.
If for some reason you can’t do the inspection while it’s raining, you can also do so right after it rains. If this is still not possible, you can mimic the rain by having someone spray the roof with water using a powerful garden hose.
It’s important to note that going up the roof can be very dangerous. One wrong step and you can either slip and fall or damage the roof further. This is why it’s highly recommended that you hire a professional to inspect and repair if necessary.
How to Handle Water Stains
So you see water spots on ceiling after it rains. Here’s the bad news. They’re not going away after it rains. They’re there as stains. You can try and live with the fact that your ceiling has water spots. This is not recommended because they’re ugly to look at and they could lead to worse problems including mold and mildew and structural damage.
A lot of homeowners literally cover the water spots. While it’s true that a fresh coat of paint can cover the spots, you’re not going to address the problem. There are water spots and these stains will just grow bigger and will cause even more problems.
Here’s how to handle water stains:
- Determine what caused the stains. What’s the source? Identify it so you can fix the leak. What’s the point of taking care of the water stains if the ceiling is just going to stain again because you weren’t able to fix the root cause of the problem?
We’ve already identified the most common causes in this article along with their solutions. Better yet, contact a professional.
- Use bleach to clean the stains.
Bleach can clean most stains including stains in the ceiling. Mix a cup of bleach with 3 cups of warm water to make a mild but effective solution.
Prepare the area by first protecting your floor by covering it with a drop cloth. Protect yourself by wearing the necessary protective gear including but not limited to a pair of goggles and gloves.
Position a ladder below the stains. Soak a sponge with the bleach solution and go up the ladder. With a bit of elbow grease, wipe the stain using the bleach-soaked sponge.
Once done, use a spray bottle to rinse the bleach. Afterwards, wipe the water with a clean cloth in order to dry the area.
- Protect the trim.
The next step is the application of primer and paint. But before you do that, you have to protect the trim by sticking painter’s tape.
- Apply a primer.
Don’t make the mistake of applying paint directly to the ceiling. You’d be using an interior latex paint since it’s the most common paint used on ceilings. The thing is the water stain will dissolve into the wet paint so you’ll end up with a freshly-coated ceiling with traces of the water stain.
This is why it’s important that you apply a primer first. Use an oil-based primer that can block stains. It’s also a good idea to use one that can resist mold. This is the perfect base coat. Just make sure that it shares almost the same shade as the coat that you’ll use.
Use a paint roller to apply the primer. Refer to the instructions included in the primer to know how long to leave it to dry. Usually, you should leave it for 2 hours. Use a spray to apply the primer if the ceiling is textured.
- Apply the paint.
Apply the paint once the primer is dry. This will help make the whole ceiling area look more uniform. Either latex or alkyd-based paint will do, although most painters would recommend the former because it dries quicker. Just make sure that you’ll be using paint designed for ceiling use.
Use a paint roller to apply the first coat. Leave to dry for around 4 hours and then apply a second coat.
Contact a Professional Today!
In this article, we’ve taught you everything there is to know about water spots on ceiling after it rains. The important thing is to solve the root cause and the end result. The best way to do this is to contact a professional roofing contractor since they have the necessary skills and tools to do the job for you. Besides, you’ll be saving yourself from a potential accident that can happen if you’re working on the roof.
The easiest way to contact a professional today is to use the form that you see on this page. All you need to do is to fill up the form with the basic details asked. Send the form and you can expect to receive free quotes from up to 4 of the best contractors nearest you that specialize in the service that you need. Try it today!