Have you noticed ceiling spots or stains in your house? A roof leak could be responsible: Here's what to do about it.
Ceiling spots and stains
It's a common problem - one day you look up at your ceiling and notice a brownish stain spreading. Sometimes this ceiling spot is only a faint outline, like a dried-up puddle. Sometimes it is a darker area that is slowly seeping into nearby materials.
Those spots are caused by water damage. Ceiling tiles and drywall are usually made from porous materials. When moisture gathers in your house and finds a way to seep into the ceiling, it lingers there, slowly evaporating and cause both stains and structural damage. If you notice one of these stains in your home, it is important to find the source - before the damage gets worse.
Is your roof to blame?
Sometimes it's easy to see if a water spot is connected to a roof leak - if there are water spots around your skylight that get worse after rain, for example, the inference is easy to make. But for many water stains, the cause is more murky.
The uncertainty occurs because there are two major causes for those annoying ceiling spots: roof leaks and condensation problems. In areas where insulation is tight and there are no vents to get rid of moisture, hot air can create condensation that builds up on inner walls and ceilings. The condensation then trickles down over time and seeps into ceilings and walls, creating brown spots or stains. This happens most often in inner walls or ceilings from condensation that has built up in bathrooms and attics with poor ventilation. This means that when you find an annoying stain or spot, you need to find out what is causing it.
Testing and repairs
The first step in getting your water spot taken care of is to call in a roof technician to take a look at it. The technician can examine where the spot is, where it originated and if it is an "active leak." Active leaks are more likely to be related to roof problems and can be measured with a moisture meter and other tools.
If it is your roof causing a leak, then repairs can be tricky: It's not a matter of simply looking straight up. Water spots are caused by slow leaks that can trickle around rafters, across edges and through corners in a maze that only ends with your ceiling. A roofing repair professional will need to examine your attic and roof to pinpoint the causes of damage…and see if any other repairs need to be made.
Sometimes only a small puncture in roofing felt or loose section of siding is responsible, which makes this a simple fix. But always wait until the leak is identified and fixed before replacing drywall or ceiling panels: You don't want to deal with the same problem twice!