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Question DetailsAsked on 6/22/2015

I have water dripping from ceiling light...who to call?

There was overnight rain from Saturday-Sunday. I woke up Sunday and noticed there was water dripping from one of my ceiling lights in the living room. The light is near a window. My house is a 1 floor ranch with an unfinished attic above the first floor. I went to the attic, and couldn't find any leak coming in from the roof. Everything was dry, and I checked the top of the light fixture so the leak isn't coming from in there, so I don't think this is an issue with the roof. Next, I checked the gutters thinking that perhaps they were clogged. Gutters were cleared. I checked the other 5 ceiling lights in my living room, and those were dry, so the issue appears to be isolated to the one light, which is nearest the window.

This is the first time this has happened, and we have been in the house for 6 months. My guess is that there is a tiny crack somewhere above the window that needs to be sealed. Maybe some caulking dried and cracked? Who can help with this? Who do I call?

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I would go back up to attic and closely look around the light that leaked, and look for staining on the top of the ceiling drywall, and try to track back to where the water came from. If the water was not dripping from above it from the roof sheathing or rafters (where there should be a wet spot or stain if from there, and would need a Roofer to repair), then there should be staining where the water ran over the top of the drywall from the source.

Be careful to stay off the drywall - stay on the wood joists, because the drywall ceiling will likely fall if you put weight on it.

My guess - a roof leak, maybe running down the underside of the sheathing or the rafters until it dripped off onto the top of the ceiling drywall, then ran to the low spot - typically near the center of the room or house, then through first hole nearby as it pooled - usually a light fixture. BTW - don't use that fixture till it has dried out a couple of days. A window or siding leak is possible but pretty unlikely because a leak there will commonly run down into the wall instead, coming out below window or at foot of wall, though depending on configuration and how house wrap was done. However, in your case, with a one-story ranch, the top of the window is going to be BELOW the ceiling so no way a window frame/opening leak could come out on top of the ceiling drywall - so has to have come from a siding leak ABOVE the ceiling level, or much more likely from roof leak.

BTW - one other possibility - I am assuming you have no plumbing up there (plus a plumbing leak big enough to run through a light fixture would commonly keep flowing indepfinitely), but if you have an attic mounted A/C unit check that the evaporator pan drain tube is not blocked so the pan is overflowing.

If a leaking window frame or siding, if you are not up to claimbing a ladder to look, you might be able to (if opening window) use a hand mirror (maybe taped to a broom handle) to look at the top of the window frame to see if there is missing or damaged caulk or drip edge flashing.

Handyman might be able to fix if a simple caulking issue or loose siding board, otherwise a Window company to replace flashing if needed if it came from a window located ABOVE the ceiling level - which would be in the attic in your case.

One other possibility that came to mind - if it was driving rain, could it have come in through a gable screened vent, or driving into a vent hood on the roof, then leaked out of the exhaust duct onto the top of the ceiling drywall ? Check for wetness on exhausdt ducting (bathroom, kitchen, whole house fan) and also for staining below it - or wet insulation if attic floor is insulated. I really think a leaking A/C drain or roof/roof vent leak was the source, in your case.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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