Advanced Home Renovation Visualization Tools

How to trace interior wall and ceiling leaks

“NOTES TO THE NEIGHBORS”                                                                         October 2016





I hope that my house maintenance tips last month were helpful to you; here is some more useful information for you. If you have any misc questions, feel free to email me ----


This month I will cover how to trace interior wall and ceiling leaks within your home.


Water leaks can be some of the most difficult repairs to complete properly. It takes patience, knowledge of home systems, weather patterns, some trial and error to eliminate them. Roofing materials and flashings are the most common source of leaks close to an exterior wall. Exterior caulking and improperly installed gutter materials can create leaks that occur only during the proper conditions. Faulty windows and doors can also create water problems for your home. Bathtub and shower pans are also areas to inspect carefully. Plumbing supply and drain pipes can create leaks that travel with the slope of the piping and leak on the opposite side of the room.  


Even if you suspect the water leak is from within the home, I always recommend a quick inspection to the exterior. Use your binoculars and inspect your roof for damage and obvious missing materials. You will get a better view if you can set an extension ladder at the level of the roof edge. If you are not comfortable with this, it may be necessary to have a professional inspect the roof.


When attempting to trace water leaks from the interior, use a level to find travel direction along the top of windows, ceilings, and piping. Start at the main area of leakage and follow the slope direction to trace the leak. It is a good idea to take pictures of the outside to reference while you are evaluating exterior walls from the interior. If your leak is located near an exterior wall, inspect the nearest window and door openings above the leak area. Get up close and check the caulking, head trim flashing, and the wall area on the exterior for any holes. Sometimes vertical seams of siding are stacked directly above each other and this can cause leaks. Seams in siding should never be directly above or below a window or door.


If your leak is not near an exterior wall it will be important to locate all wet fixtures and piping above the leak area. It is also wise to head into the basement to locate the direction of where the pipes travel to. This will give you an insight to the direction that they slope. It is possible to get a mid section pipe leak. If ceiling or wall is consistently wet you may have a supply line leak. To make this repair the ceiling or wall will definitely need to be opened. If your leak is an occasional one, it may likely be caused by faulty drain piping or a tiled tub/shower leak. I this case you could set a bucket beneath the leak area and drill a small oval shaped hole to allow the water out. Doing this could help to prevent mildew growth to the area. Open your plumbing wall access panel if your home has one. Run water along the bottom edges of your tub/shower horizontally and slowly work your way upward. Inspect for missing grout and look for cracks in the tile. Check for cracked or missing caulking along the horizontal seams and the inside vertical corner seams. Next, check to see that the control valve cover plate and plumbing spouts are sealed to the tile. These areas are notorious for water leaks.


Even if your home has no active leaks, I recommend regular inspection of these areas. Water damage can be a major inconvenience and very expensive to repair.








Jim Houghtaling                                                                  


        Renew View Custom Trim LLC

Stands for Quality Craftsmanship”