Water bubble in Ceiling after a leak? Not sure what to do about it and if you should pop it?
In this Guide you will learn:
- What causes water bubbles to form in Ceilings,
- How to Pop& Drain a water bubble in your ceiling,
- How to prepare the ceiling for fixing after removing the water bubble.
A water leak can affect the ceiling in a house in many ways, generally, if the ceiling has been well prepared, the water will drip directly and cause sweat stains.
In such cases it is recommended to find the leak, and fix it, examine the damage and decide if the drywall and ceiling joists require replacing.
In some cases, the water damage is not so serious and we can simply cut out the damaged drywall and install a new one.
A more serious and dangerous situation can occur though, this is a water bubble in the ceiling.
This must be repaired as soon as possible, and can quite often require the work to be done by a specialist.
Most Common Causes Of Water Bubbles in Ceiling
Some common causes of water bubble formation are:
- Leaking Pipes
Old, brittle pipes can drip slowly and over time this can cause water damage to the floor or ceiling beneath the pipes.
- Leaking roof
A leaking roof can be caused by several factors, check for cracked tiles, lifted tin, or clogged gutters.
- Leaking HVAC systems
A HVAC system may leak due to clogged condensate drain lines, poorly insulated ductwork, frozen evaporator coil, or a faulty condensate pump.
- Overflowing toilet
A clogged toilet is usually caused by a build of material in the toilet which has failed to flush, use a plunger or plumbing auger to remove the clog.
- Poorly painted and prepared ceilings
When the ceiling has been poorly prepared before painting, this allows the water leak to build up behind the paint and to cause a bubble effect, as the more the water leaks the bigger the bubble gets.
The longer any form of leaking is left, the more damage is done to the drywall and the ceiling joists.
But don’t despair, our comprehensive guide will show you how to deal with such a problem and when, if needed, to call an expert to your house.
Should You Pop a Water Bubble in Ceiling?
The short answer is yes! But before we do this, we need to make sure that we have everything at hand and that we have taken all precautions to make safety our number one priority.
If the water bubble is close to or in any electrical wiring, the first thing we need to do is to turn off the breaker at the main power supply.
Secondly gather together, a bucket, drill, utility knife, mop, and cloth to clean any spilled water.
How to Pop & Drain a Water Bubble in Ceiling
Once we have all these items together, we are ready to proceed with popping the bubble.
The best way that we can do this is to drill or cut a small hole at the lowest point in the bubble to allow the water to be released in a controlled manner, collecting the water in buckets.
This minimizes the amount of cleaning that will need to be done after.
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Finding & Stopping the Leak that Caused the Water Bubble in your Ceiling
After we have drained our bubble, the next step is to find the source of the leak.
Under a 2nd Story Bathroom
If the leak appeared below a second-story bathroom, check the plumbing in the bathroom, look for any damaged piping, check the rubber rings in the shower.
Often this is a simple job, however, if you find that a pipe has been compromised then calling in an expert might be a good idea at this point.
After a Storm or Heavy Rain
If the bubble has appeared on the main ceiling beneath the roof of the house, this can happen after a violent storm or heavy rain, then the roof will need to be inspected before we can proceed with repairing the damaged area.
Should you have crawl space between the ceiling and the roof, enter and check above the damaged area for any broken tiles, or roofing that may have been damaged during the storm.
Be careful when doing so, as you don’t want to fall through the damaged ceiling.
Alternatively, if you don’t have sufficient room to enter the crawl space, or you feel unsafe doing so, then we can check the roof from outside. Using the same approach, check the area around the damaged ceiling for any deformities in the roof.
Cracked tiles or lifted tin roofing will need to be replaced before we begin repairing the internal ceiling.
If you don’t have the materials at hand, a tarpaulin sheet can be used as a temporary measure to ensure that further water doesn’t come through the roof.
Bear in mind this is temporary and the roof will need to be repaired as soon as possible, if you don’t feel confident in replacing tiles or fixing the roof, it is recommended to contact a specialist immediately.
Near Corners Of the Ceiling
If your water damage has appeared near the corners of the room or edges of the ceiling, check your gutters.
They may be clogged with leaves and other debris, rainwater could have spilled over between the guttering and the roofing.
Clean the gutters and check the downpipes to ensure that everything is free from debris and water is flowing off the roof freely.
Repairing Ceiling Afterwards
Ok, so we found our leak, we fixed the problem and now we are ready to get on to repairing the ceiling itself.
1.Inspect the Drywall
The first thing we need to do is cut away any loose and damaged paint from the ceiling around the affected area. We can use our utility knife to do this.
Once we have removed the damaged paint, move on to inspecting the drywall, this will likely need to be replaced.
When drywall dries after being wet it can warp and be distorted, not to mention the integrity of the drywall being securely fastened to the joists, we don’t want the ceiling falling in on us at a later date.
Take a straightedge and a pencil and draw a rectangle around the affected drywall, this is the area which we will need to remove, so ensure that this area completely covers the damaged part of the ceiling.
2.Remove the Water Damaged Drywall
Next, take a stud finder and mark any studs that appear in the location of the area we want to remove; we need to be careful not to cut through these or we risk compromising the integrity of the ceiling.
Next cut out the drywall with a drywall or reciprocating saw and dispose of the debris.
Keep in mind that insulation may fall out as well, if this is the case, we will need to dispose of this as well because wet insulation can cause molding and health problems if not dried properly.
If studs, electrical cabling, or plumbing is in the vicinity, take extra care not to cut through these.
3.Replace the Drywall
Once we have made our rectangular hole in the ceiling, feel inside around the edges to check that we have successfully cut out all the wet drywall.
At the same time, check the ceiling insulation and joists, anything that is water damaged must be removed at this point.
So, we have made our rectangle, checked and removed any further water-damaged drywall, and insulation and we are ready to proceed with replacing the drywall.
Our next step is to measure the size of the newly cut rectangle and to cut a new piece of drywall to the same size.
It is ok if it’s a little smaller with gaps no bigger than 1/8 of an inch, make sure that you buy drywall that is of the same thickness as the one you are replacing.
If the ceiling joists are exposed, we can mount the drywall directly to these by screwing it into the existing joists.
If we haven’t exposed any ceiling joists then we will need to add some nailing strips to the sides of the joists. Ensure that you position the nailing strips flush with the bottom of the joists as any difference will mean that the new ceiling drywall will not be level with the other panels around it.
When screwing the new drywall into place, be careful to not set the screws too deeply, they should embed slightly beneath the surface.Too deep and they won’t have enough strength to hold up the drywall.
If you set a screw too deeply, simply set another screw a half-inch away from the previous one.
4.Blending it in
Once the new panel is in place, finish the edges with paper drywall tape and an all-purpose compound.
Using a putty knife, set some compound into the gaps, then place paper drywall tape over the compound. Use compound to fill in the holes with the screws.
Continue to apply the compound and smooth out the joints until they are flat and suit the surrounding surfaces.
Finally, sand back the compound to get a smooth finish. Remember to wear goggles and a face mask when sanding.
When To Call A Professional
While draining a water bubble is fairly straightforward and most can complete this on their own, replacing drywall and ceiling joists is something best left to the professionals.
This work can be dangerous at most and complex at best.
Ceiling joists are part of the structural integrity of a house and if not replaced accurately can lead to further complications later.
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