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Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. Blog

Water Stain on the Ceiling? That’s a Serious Plumbing Problem!

stain-on-ceilingWe often talk about the problem of hidden leaks in residential plumbing. It’s easy for these leaks to go unnoticed for weeks or months while they raise water bills and inflict damage on building materials. But today we’re going to look at when a hidden leak becomes an obvious leak. Unfortunately, it’s an obvious leak that people often still overlook or delay at getting fixed. We’re looking at the water stain on the ceiling!

You’ve probably come across this phenomenon at some point; if not in your own home than in another building. A brownish-red discoloration spreading through the drywall or other material of the ceiling. Unsightly, but maybe you only need a bit of paint to touch it up…

No, don’t do this! That stain is the sign of a leak, and it means you need fast service to have it fixed. You can worry about painting over the stain later. 

The Major Plumbing Leak

We want to move past the idea that this stain is a cosmetic issue. Yes, it doesn’t look good, but what it means is water damage is occurring to the ceiling material. Standing water chews through drywall and other building materials, creating this stain. You either have rain water dripping through a leak in the roof (which is a whole other issue) or there is a plumbing leak occurring from the pipes in the upper floor or the plumbing fixtures in the space above the stain.

The Bathroom Plumbing Leak

First thing to consider: is the leak on the ceiling below an upstairs bathroom? If it is, then you probably have your answer already, which is a leak from the bathroom pipes or fixtures. A bathroom has more plumbing concentrated in it than any other room in the house, even the kitchen. Plenty can go wrong with the plumbing leading the water staining the ceiling below it. The bathroom may have leaking freshwater or wastewater lines, loose connections, poor caulking and sealing around the tub or shower, water leaking through the base of the toilet, or other problems. 

These leaks are a major problem because they will weaken the floor of the bathroom. Not only will you experience water waste and the growth of mold and mildew, but the heavier appliances in the bathroom could even fall through the weakening floor. This happens more often than people like to think.

Other Pipe Leaks

When you see water stains on a ceiling that isn’t located below a bathroom or directly under the roof, it’s probably a leak in one the pipes laid through this part of the ceiling. You’ll need to have plumbers locate the specific pipe that’s causing the problem; it may have loose connectors or leaking due to corrosion. 


Does your home use radiators to provide heat in winter? Leaking radiators can cause ceiling stains, so check on the radiators on the upper floor to see if there’s water pooling around any of them. You’ll need to call plumbers to fix up these leaks. 

When in doubt, you can call the Reliance Plumbing team for 24-hour plumbing in Evanston, IL. We’ll locate the problem and have it fixed, fast!

Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. serves the Northshore and Northwest Chicagoland. Call us for 24-hour emergency plumbing service.

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