You can see a leak under the kitchen sink or behind the toilet. A puddle around the refrigerator is a sure sign that the water line isn’t working properly.
A burst pipe in the ceiling is obvious too, but this type of plumbing disaster is hard to reach and difficult to repair. Do you know what to do when a pipe bursts in your home’s ceiling?
How to Fix a Burst Pipe in the Ceiling: 8 Steps
Before you can stop the leak, you have to figure out where it’s coming from. That means climbing the ladder and taking a look up in the ceiling. Stay safe by following these eight steps for fixing a burst ceiling pipe.
1. Turn Off the Electricity
Turn off the room’s electricity at the outside breaker box. Even if there aren’t overhead lights in the damaged area, you want to be careful. There may be wiring in the ceiling that might need to be moved aside while you work.
2. Prep Things First
Minimize further ceiling damage by turning off the water supply to your home. Spread a plastic drop cloth under the affected area, and center a 5-gallon bucket under the leak. Keep another bucket handy as backup.
3. Drain the Ceiling
Use a sharp tool to punch a hole in the ceiling at the exact point of the dripping water. The volume should increase to a steady flow. Follow up by draining any bulges near the original leak.
4. Remove Wet Materials
Draw a rectangular outline around the wet area. Cut out the water-damaged ceiling with a drywall saw. Soggy chunks of ceiling and soaked insulation may fall as you work, so be careful.
5. Look for the Leak
Shine a flashlight up and inside the ceiling opening. Make sure you’ve taken down all the water-damaged materials. If you can’t see or safely reach the burst pipe, it’s time to call a plumber.
6. Repair the Pipe
If you’re confident about safe access to the pipe, inspect the damage. Depending on the size and extent of the pipe break, one of these DIY pipe repair techniques should take care of the job.
• Wrap the length of the burst pipe with fiberglass tape.
• Plug the leak with plumber’s putty according to product directions.
• Seal the pipe with a sleeve clamp kit from the hardware store.
If it looks like the burst pipe needs to be replaced, consider calling the plumber. Pipe replacement can be a challenge especially when it’s inside the ceiling.
7. Let Everything Dry
Run fans in the room for several days before repairing the opening. This allows fresh air to circulate inside areas that were affected by the pipe break. Otherwise, residual moisture in the ceiling materials will compromise your work.
8. Patch the Ceiling
Once you’re sure everything is completely dry, patch the hole in the ceiling. You’ll need a piece of replacement drywall, joint compound and drywall tape. Seal, sand and prime before painting.
How to Tell When a Pipe Bursts in the Ceiling
The drips you see raining down into the room aren’t always caused by burst pipes in the ceiling. You might be looking at roof water damage. Repairs for this kind of problem are best handled by a roofing professional.
How can you tell the difference between a burst ceiling pipe and a leaky roof? These clues can help.
• Roof leaks stop when the weather clears up.
• They might continue if you’re dealing with ice dams.
• Water leaking from the roof has a brownish tint.
• Burst pipe water is clear and drips at a steady rate.
• It doesn’t stop until you turn off your home’s water supply.
How to Know When to Call in the Pros
Most homeowners can handle small pipe repairs and ceiling patch jobs. However, you don’t always catch water leaks from the ceiling right away. It can happen in a seldom-used room. A pipe can burst while you’re away from the house.
Water damage spreads quickly through insulation and drywall. It soaks floors and baseboards. Mold begins to grow in affected areas within 48 hours. An experienced restoration company addresses all these issues.
If damage from the pipe burst is more than 24 hours old, let certified technicians take care of it. If the job seems too big or dangerous, leave it in the hands of trained professionals.
You Can Count on Us
A burst pipe in the ceiling isn’t always a DIY project. When you need help, you can count on ServiceMaster of Lake Shore. We provide expert burst plumbing pipe emergency services across Chicago, IL and the suburbs.
From water damage cleanup to ceiling restoration, ServiceMaster of Lake Shore takes care of it all. We’re just a phone call away at 312-707-8597.