Home Services

Ceiling Repair: How to Deal With Water Stains on Ceilings

Water stains on ceilings can be more than just unsightly—they may indicate hidden problems such as a leaky roof or framing that needs to be repaired. A musty odor could mean there are mold issues that need to be addressed. Contact Ceiling Repair Perth now!

Large cracks usually indicate serious structural problems that need fixing, such as rotting joists or trusses. A contractor can investigate these and recommend a course of action.

Water damage can be one of the most devastating forms of damage to your ceiling. It not only weakens the material, but also can compromise its structural integrity, threaten your safety or foster microbial growth. That’s why it’s important to fix any signs of water damage as soon as you notice them, no matter how minor they seem at the time.

The best way to determine whether your ceiling is damaged by water is to look for damp spots, or stains. These areas may have a mildew smell or be discolored, or may even appear ripple-like. Water staining may be caused by plumbing issues, or it can simply occur when the roof leaks or rainwater infiltrates the home.

When you’re able to find the source of the problem, your next step is to dry out the affected area. This process is called dehumidification and involves opening up windows, using fans and deploying dehumidifiers to draw out the moisture in the air. If the area is large, you should consider hiring a professional water damage mitigation and restoration specialist.

If the water damage is small, you can probably handle it on your own, though we do recommend enlisting a professional for severe or extensive damage. The first thing to do is shut off the electricity in the area, which is vital for safety and will prevent additional damage.

Once the source of the leak is addressed, you can start to remove any waterlogged materials, if necessary. Then, make sure the remaining drywall and plaster is completely dry before you attempt to repair it.

Drywall holds on to water remarkably well, so it can take a long time for the area to fully dry. Once the drywall is dry, you can patch it and paint. It’s important to choose oil or shellac-based primers, which help prevent future stains.

It’s also worth examining the surrounding areas of your ceiling to identify any other problems that need fixing. For example, a sagging ceiling could indicate a rotting joist or beam that needs replacement. Likewise, cracks and large holes in the ceiling can be indicative of other issues, such as leaks or weakened framing.


Oftentimes, cracks are more than just cosmetic in nature and can actually be signs of structural damage. If you see a crack in your ceiling, you need to act quickly. There are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with ceiling cracks, though.

Cracks Caused by Flooding

If your ceiling has been damp for a long time, it may develop cracks that are recurrent and don’t seem to be getting any better. This type of crack is caused by a combination of moisture, humidity and the natural movement of your house as it settles over the years. It’s best to contact a professional damp proofer to help you find the source of the problem and fix it before it gets worse.

If the crack is small and thin, you can use a spackling product to repair it. Just be sure to wear a dust mask and have a sturdy ladder or stool to work on (no wobbly chairs!). It’s also a good idea to use a ceiling patch product that matches the texture of your ceiling, if you want the repairs to look natural.

More serious cracks that show up in the drywall need a bit more attention. First, make sure you’re working safely—sanding drywall creates billows of dust that can be irritating to your lungs and eyes. Then, you need to widen the crack a little so the new plaster has something to stick to.

Next, add a strip of mesh tape to the top of the crack. Using a trowel, apply a layer of joint compound to the entire area, including the tape. Then, sand the surface of the compound until it’s smooth. Finally, paint it to match the rest of your ceiling.

Large cracks that extend across the ceiling and into the walls can be a sign of severe structural damage. Typically, these cracks indicate that there is too much weight being placed on the trusses in your roof or foundation. Contact a professional for a free foundation inspection to identify the cause of these problems.


If water seeps into drywall and evaporates, it leaves behind discolored deposits that are called water stains. These are not only unsightly but may indicate a serious problem, such as a leaky roof or the need for insulation. It’s important to get these stains repaired quickly to avoid more damage. Covering them with a fresh coat of paint won’t solve the underlying issue and will probably lead to another stain and more repairs in the future.

Brown stains on the ceiling can be caused by a variety of problems, such as a leaky plumbing pipe or even an air conditioner that causes condensation. These types of stains typically require professional help to resolve. If a home inspector notices a damp area on the ceiling, they will conduct a moisture test to find out the source and recommend any necessary repairs.

Sometimes, it’s not easy to determine the cause of a stain on the ceiling, especially if the area is large and has an amorphous shape. However, the location of the stain on the ceiling can often give away the culprit. For example, a stain at the top of an upstairs bedroom could indicate a chimney that hasn’t been properly flashed.

Similarly, a wet patch on the ceiling could be caused by a leaking pipe, but more often it’s due to an internal source like a bathroom or kitchen, or simply too much humidity in the room. It’s important to address these issues quickly before they become a more serious problem, or mold or mildew may develop.

Damp or wet spots on the ceiling without a brown color to them can usually be treated by simply using a damp cloth to wipe it down and then drying the spot immediately. If the area is still damp, it’s probably a good idea to use an extractor fan or dehumidifier to reduce indoor humidity.

If the cause of the stain has been addressed, a simple bleach solution can be used to clean the stain. This will need to be repeated as needed until the stain is no longer visible. Once the stain is completely dry, a stain-blocking primer can then be applied to the ceiling before painting.


Mold grows in wet conditions, and the moisture associated with flooding can foster its growth. Mold can cause a variety of health problems for those who live in it, including eye irritation, sinus issues and rashes. In addition, it can produce mycotoxins that are dangerous to the human body if inhaled or ingested. Mold can also cause structural damage to a home, requiring professional repair services.

The best way to test for mold is to look for a musty odor. Mold spores are airborne and can be carried throughout the home. They are also visible on the backside of materials such as drywall, wallpaper and paneling, inside ductwork and wall cavities and in between bathroom tiles.

In nature, molds grow on dead organic matter in wet environments. They grow in a network of filaments known as mycelium. Mycelium is composed of hyphae, which are thin filaments that have a central hub or thallus. Each hyphae is a tiny organism that absorbs nutrients through its tips. Mycelium can grow in a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels, making it ideal for indoors.

When exposed to enough moisture, hyphae will begin growing on surfaces and can continue until the surface is covered. Mold spores are then dispersed through the air and can settle in new areas, causing more growth. A mold infestation can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor ventilation and the presence of other allergens in the home.

Molds grow in a variety of hues, but the most common are aspergillus and cladosporium. Black mold (stachybotrys chartarum) can be found on food and in attics. While these types of mold are generally not dangerous to most healthy people, they can trigger allergy symptoms and irritation to the eyes, nose or throat in some individuals, especially those with existing respiratory conditions.

If you suspect a mold problem, it is important to address it as soon as possible. The first step is to remove any porous items that have been wet for more than 48 hours. Items that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried should be removed and stored until insurance claims can be processed.