How To Dry A Ceiling After A Leak Or Water Damage

How To Dry A Ceiling After A Leak Or Water Damage


Because my washing machine is on the second floor, it sits in a galvanized pan connected to a drain. But the other day, the discharge hose broke, spraying water onto the floor outside the pan, where it soaked into the living-room ceiling. By evening, the paint was bubbling. I poked holes through the ceiling and drained 2 gallons of water into buckets. Also in that ceiling is radiant-floor heat, along with aluminized bubble wrap and unfaced fiberglass-batt insulation.

Scott Gibson, East Waterboro, ME


Joseph Lstiburek, P.Eng., replies: I’ll bet you a case of Canadian beer that you can get the ceiling dry before you have to worry about mold. You typically have 72 hours (most people say only 48 hours, but they are overly cautious).

Turn on the radiant-floor heat and the air conditioning to get some energy exchange happening; heating and cooling will speed the drying. To speed the process further, cut some holes in the drywall ceiling to allow air movement. Professional drying and restoration contractors attach flex duct to one hole and blow air through the joist bay and out a hole cut into the other end of the joist bay. You can do this with a shop vacuum. After a couple of days, let the ceiling cool down to equilibrium temperature (a couple of hours). If nothing smells moldy or musty, you’re done. Patch the holes, paint the ceiling, and drink the beer.

If the ceiling smells moldy, take it down, throw away the insulation, scrub what is left in the joist bay with soap and water, let it dry, paint everything with latex paint containing zinc, and put it all back together again. And move your washing machine to the basement.

Myron R. Ferguson, author of  Drywall , adds: Here are a couple more things to keep in mind. Drywall can be dried out after it gets wet, but if any sagging has occurred, the drywall will hold this new shape. It will be difficult to pull the drywall back tight to the framing and impossible to pull it back up between the framing. Supports that hold the drywall flat while it dries are a good idea as long as they don’t interfere with the drying process (move them around every few hours).

How long does a water leak take to dry out

Answered By: Aaron James Date: created: Aug 01 2021

The proper and professional way is to strip all undercoat/paint/sealing off the wall on both sides, use heaters and fans with open doors/windows to dry the wall for about 2-3 weeks, then prep and finish the walls again. If very water-logged, the plaster might have to come off as well.

Asked By: Gordon Cox Date: created: Dec 05 2020



Feel the drywall with your fingers and draw an outline around all of it that’s wet. You can tell if drywall is wet if it feels spongy – it may even break apart when you push on it, explains Ask The Builder. You have to replace this drywall because, now that it’s wet, the fasteners will no longer hold it reliably to the joists, even after it dries out.

How do I temporarily fix a leak in my ceiling

Answered By: Walter Kelly Date: created: Mar 22 2021

Stop the Leaky Ceiling – Patch with Tar or Cement

Once it stops raining, go up on the roof and using a trowel or putty knife apply either roofing tar or cement to the hole or crack and then place a shingle or piece of plywood on top of it. Apply more tar or cement around the patch to hold it.

Asked By: Clifford Ross Date: created: Jul 09 2021


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How can you tell if a ceiling has water damage?

Cracks in the ceiling: If you notice cracks in your ceilings, either in straight or spiderweb patterns, this is a sign that water damage is at play. Sagging ceilings: Ceilings are level and straight. The moment they begin to show signs of shifting and bowing, it means you’ve got bigger issues between the drywall.

Step 2: Identifying the Source of the Water

It can be hard to find the source if the water travels far from the source of the leak and ends up in an unexpected place. However, keep in mind that ceiling leaks generally start from one of two places: the roof or plumbing. Water damage that is directly below an attic or roof, the culprit could be a leaky roof that’s been damaged by hail or an ice dam, or an issue with your chimney, caused by storm damage or age. Clogged gutters can also cause water issues near your roof line. Watch for these other signs to suspect to roof:

  • The ceiling appears wet during or soon after rainfall
  • Insulation is wet in the attic
  • The water is brown (it’s bringing dirt with it)

If you have a two-story home, water on a first-floor ceiling is most likely coming from a frozen, burst pipe or other plumbing issue upstairs. If the water damage is below plumbing pipes, such as a bathroom or kitchen, watch for these other signs:

  • There is no weather event
  • The leak is steady
  • The water is clear

In any case, a property restoration professional can assess your situation to identify the source of the water and find a permanent solution, before you undertake any cosmetic repairs.

Blotting With Dry Towels

After setting up the fans and increasing air circulation, you might want to try dry blotting the walls. But do so carefully. Because wet drywall is already more weaker than normal, even a small amount of pressure can cause you to punch a hole through it. So, if you choose to blot dry the drywall, do it gently, applying pressure along all affected areas. Use less pressure as you move away from the baseboards and where they drywall intersects with the ceiling. It’s stronger in those areas.

How do you dry a room after a water leak?

Accelerate drying by opening windows and doors. Use fans to move air around the damp walls. Dehumidifiers can help remove moisture from the air, which indirectly removes it from the walls, too. To speed up evaporation, remove molding and baseboards to prevent moisture from entering behind them.

What Are the Signs of Ceiling Water Damage?

Thankfully, most signs of ceiling leaks are easy to see. Water spots on the ceiling are common, but water dripping or leaking is a more urgent problem. If you have any of the following signs, find and fix the water leak right away. After you fix the leak, you still need to repair the ceiling water damage.

Water Leaks From the Ceiling

You should always treat water leaking from your ceiling as a major problem. In most cases, you can find the cause of the leak easily. Look at the plumbing above the damage for leaks or overflows. If the roof is directly above the ceiling, look for damaged shingles.

Sagging Ceiling

A sagging ceiling is also a sign of a ceiling leak. As the water saturates the ceiling material, it also weakens it. The weight of the water will then cause the ceiling to start to sag. Although most common in drop tile ceilings, water can also cause drywall and plaster ceilings to sag as well. Typically, a sagging ceiling indicates a moderate water leak or issue.

Peeling Paint or Cracked Plaster

Another sign of a ceiling leak is peeling paint or plaster. This is most common with a small leak that leaves the ceiling wet for a long time. Over time, the water causes the paint to bubble or peel. Wet plaster shrinks and expands, causing cracks.

Yellowish-Brown Water Spots

Yellowish-brown water spots on the ceiling also mean you have a problem. These water spots mean the leak is small enough that the area has time to dry. Repeated or inconsistent leaks will form rings as the water spreads further from the source over time. Even if they feel dry to the touch, water spots on the ceiling mean you have a leak somewhere.

When To Call A Professional

If you have experienced a major ceiling leak and suffered substantial home damage, calling a professional is highly recommended. 

A professional water damage restoration company will be able to:

  • Identify the causes & location of a leak
  • Repair the leak source
  • Recommend the most effective drying procedure
  • Cut out soggy drywall or remove other debris
  • & Restore your ceiling to pre-leak conditions

A ceiling leak of any scale should be considered a home repair priority. Leaving a leak unhandled can lead to a host of problems that come with expensive price tags later on.

Dealing with a ceiling leak can seem like a complex or daunting task. Always remember that acting quickly is paramount in decreasing any further risks to your home.

If you find yourself unable to take the necessary steps to fix a ceiling leak, call a professional who can save you and your family from a potentially hazardous situation.

We have Water Damage Restoration Technicians that can help Find the Source of the Leak & Your Ceiling

For Disasters of all Sizes,available in 95% of the USA

How To Dry Repair Your Ceiling After A Leak

Water circles, the smell of mold, and discoloration are all common symptoms of a ceiling leak.

The consequences of ignoring ceiling leaks can be both expensive and dangerous and should be repaired right away.

If you’ve never handled a ceiling leak before, you might not know where to start. The following section is a list of steps you should take when getting rid of your ceiling leak.

1. Find & Repair The Source Of The Leak

Before any water damage repairs can take place, you must first find the source of the leak and prevent more damage from happening.

Depending on the cause and location of the leak, you might need to:

  • Shut off a water valve
  • Repair water lines
  • Unclog gutters or downspouts
  • Or even repair portions of your roof

If you cannot identify the location of the leak or are unable to fix the leak source yourself, seek help from a licensed professional as soon as possible. 

2. Dry Out The Wet Ceiling Area

In order to mitigate further damage and prevent mold growth, your next priority should be drying out your ceiling as quickly as possible.

Leaving water damage on your ceiling will only cause more long-term problems.

To dry out your ceiling, it is a great idea to use as many high-powered fans and dehumidifiers as possible.

Make sure all fans are running on the highest setting, and remember to empty out the dehumidifiers often.

If a leak occurred in an area between a second floor and ceiling, fans and dehumidifiers will be needed in rooms on both floors.

In some cases, to fix the leak and to dry your ceiling you will need to open up your ceiling by removing drywall.

Remove as much moisture as possible from all affected areas of your home, because unseen water damage can be extremely risky. 

If the Ceiling drywall has started to sag, often your ceiling drywall will need to be replaced as well.

3. Repair Or Remove The Damaged Ceiling Area

If your ceiling leak was minor and handled swiftly, you might not need to replace any drywall or plaster. Make sure to remove any bubbled paint remains and fill in cracks with putty or drywall mud.

For more major leaks, you should remove the water-damaged sections of your ceiling by cutting them out.

Make sure that that any wet insulation in your ceiling is also replaced now that the ceiling has been exposed.

With a new piece of drywall, cover the hole and use plaster (or similar material) to seal any remaining cracks.

Since the process of removing and replacing sections of drywall can be difficult, it is a good idea to consult with a professional when repairing ceiling damage caused by a major leak. 

4. Smooth Out The Repair Edges

Once your ceiling has been repaired, you might notice rough edges around the new drywall or plaster areas.

To restore a normal ceiling appearance, you should sand down any rough edges for a smooth finish. Using a sanding sheet will work for small sections, but a powered hand-sander might be necessary for large areas of work.

5. Finish With Sealing Primer and Paint

Finally, cover the previously water-damaged area with a few coats of sealing primer, and wait until it is completely dry before using paint.

Sealing primers are great for covering repair seams and preventing the ceiling from soaking up too much paint.

Match the paint to the surrounding ceiling color to get rid of unsightly discoloration.

Leaking Ceiling?

Call 844-994-1288 for a Risk Free estimate from a Licensed Water Damage Restoration Specialist in your area.

We Can Help Find the Cause, Dry out your Ceiling & Repair any Water Damage caused.

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Call for Water Damage Restoration

Because water damage is considered an emergency, immediate action is important. Sometimes, these situations require more than do-it-yourself repairs. Whether the job is too much for you, or you are unequipped to take care of a water-damaged ceiling yourself, you can hire professional help for water damage repairs and restoration services.

Professional water damage restoration companies are available to help restore homes and businesses that have sustained water damage, including water-damaged ceilings. No matter what caused the damage, professional technicians will fix the water source, remove excess water and moisture, dry affected areas, and make the necessary repairs. If the water has led to mold growth, professionals will handle its removal, too.

With help from a professional water damage restoration service, your water-damaged property will be repaired and safe to return to.

Facebook CommentsAbout Luke Armstrong

About Luke Armstrong

Expert in emergency fire and water restoration services, fire cleanup and water damage cleanup, mold removal, as well as carpet and upholstery cleaning services. Contributor to several restoration and cleaning blogs.


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