plumbing leak upstairs resized 600It’s a scary thing to look at your ceiling and know that you have a pluming leak from upstairs. The bathroom is right above the stained ceiling and so it’s a safe bet that the cause is up there somewhere. But how do you find it?

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The obvious answer is to cut a hole in the ceiling and look around, but then you just added to the job because now you have to repair the ceiling, texture and paint (you likely have to do this anyway if you see a stain there). But before you start cutting, there are a couple things to look for first. Can you hear water dripping on the ceiling at any particular time? Maybe when you flush the toilet, or run water in the sink or shower? This might help to give you a clue as to the cause.

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It’s almost impossible to guess where the leak is coming from, but it’s common that a wax ring from a toilet is to blame. So you might check the toilet and replace the wax ring and bolts, especially if the bowl is loose at the floor.

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Chances are, if you can hear the dripping on to the ceiling, it is a drain line and you will have to cut open the ceiling. Don’t think though, that just because the stain is right above your head that the leaking drain pipe is too. It may be several feet away and the water (polite way to say “waste”) is just running down other pipes or lumber and finally dropping off in that location. Be prepared for anything when you cut the ceiling open.

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