Water Stains in the Ceiling? Here’s How to Fix Them


It’s a common event for homeowners—discovering an unsightly gray, brown, or yellowish stain on the ceiling, AKA water stains!

How did that get there? Do I have a leak? How can I get that gross stain off my ceiling before someone notices? 

A ceiling stain can be caused by a number of factors, but the process is the same, no matter the cause. We’ll help you navigate the process for fixing a water stain on your ceiling, as well as preventing future issues

What causes water stains on the ceiling?

Water stains are caused by a water leak above the ceiling. The leak may be from a bathroom (like an overflowing toilet, bathtub, or sink), precipitation leaking through a damaged roof, or even problems with pipes or radiators. The water leaks through the ceiling surface and then evaporates, leaving behind mineral deposits that cause discoloration. 

What should I do if I find a water stain on my ceiling?

When you notice any staining or damage on your ceiling, you should first inspect it more closely. If the water stain is wet, your reaction should be more urgent as the leak may still be in progress. A dry water stain might have been from a one-time overflowing bathtub or flood. Either way, you’ll need to call an expert to find the root of the problem before further damage occurs.

Who do I call about a leak in my ceiling?

If the leak is active, don’t hesitate to call a trustworthy plumbing service. If you believe it’s due to an issue with your roof, you may want to call a roofer first. Similarly, if the issue seems to be with a radiator, you might turn to an HVAC specialist. 

How do I get stains off my ceiling?

Follow these steps to remove water stains from your ceiling once you’ve identified and permanently fixed the cause:

  1. Use a bleach/water mixture on a clean, saturated sponge to clean the entire area of the water stain. Rinse with clean water and let dry. 
  2. Sand down any wrinkles or uneven areas caused by water damage. 
  3. Apply oil-based primer to the area to completely block the stain and prevent mold. 
  4. Paint with your existing ceiling paint color. 

Can you just paint over a water-damaged ceiling?

The short answer is no. Your ceiling will be susceptible to mold without a thorough bleach cleaning, and stains can bleed through interior paint since it’s water-based. 

How do you remove water stains from the ceiling without paint?

If you don’t have paint or don’t want to paint over a water stain, do your best to thoroughly dry, bleach clean, and sand down the stained surface. Bleach should dull the stain and might be enough to remove it completely without paint. 

Does water stain ceiling mean mold?

A water stain doesn’t automatically indicate mold, but it should automatically call your attention to the possibility. Carefully clean the surface and monitor it closely for the development of mold. 

How long does it take to fix ceiling water damage?

Cleaning, drying, priming, and painting the water stain on a ceiling should take about 4-5 hours, depending on the height and texture of your ceiling. 

Reliable Plumbing Solutions with Quick Quality Plumbing

When you need a plumbing solution fast — call Quick Quality Plumbing to see what we can do for your home or business. We’re your trusted plumber that serves Orem, Utah, and the surrounding cities of Lehi, American Fork, and Provo. Contact us today!

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