How to Find and Fix a Plumbing Leak That's Dripping From Your First-Floor Ceiling

It's an unpleasant surprise to see water dripping from your first-floor ceiling. Since there's another floor above, you can usually rule out a roof leak, and that means you have a plumbing problem. Here's a look at how to track down the problem and deal with the leak.

Find the Leak

If there's a bathroom on the second floor, that's a good place to start your search. However, water can roll a long way, so pinpointing the leak can still be difficult. You might use a moisture meter that tells you where on the ceiling the moisture is the highest. That should indicate where the leak is located.

You may also benefit from an infrared camera that shows the leak and plume so you know how much of the ceiling is affected. A wall camera is also useful since you'll be able to look behind a wall through a small hole without having to take the wall apart. If you don't have any of this equipment, you can rely on sight and touch to find the water leak, or you could call a plumber for help.

Manage the Water Leak

If the water looks clear, the leak is probably from an inlet pipe, so shutting off the water at the main valve will stop the flow of water. If the drip is discolored or if the water leak comes and goes, it could be coming from a drain, so keep everyone out of the bathroom until the problem is solved.

Examine the Bathroom For Leaks

If you don't have any idea where the leak is because there are no obvious signs, you may want to call a plumber for fast help. Places to look include around the tub, around the toilet base, and under the bathroom sink. If you can see the pipes behind the shower, check those too.

Look for signs of water and for discoloration on the walls that indicate water has been leaking. Check the rooms that share walls with the bathroom to see if those rooms have water. You may find that an adjacent bedroom has a soggy carpet.

Make Plumbing Repairs

The leak could be something as simple as a loose connection, but you might have a bigger problem, such as a hole in a pipe. You not only have to deal with plumbing repairs, but you may also have to deal with water damage repair, so quick action is essential.

Call a plumbing contractor to repair problems such as a hidden pipe leak so your home can dry out fast. The plumber may need to patch a pipe or replace it entirely. The problem could be with the toilet instead since toilets often leak around the base when the wax ring goes bad. The plumber can remove the toilet and replace the wax ring to fix the problem.