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What Are the Causes of a Leaky Ceiling in a Apartment Building?

Janet Beal

Ceiling leaks can be a long-term frustrating issue in apartment living. Often caused by faulty plumbing in other apartments, leaks can stem from a number of other sources and have multiple causes as well. Learn about the causes of apartment leaks so that you and other tenants can work more effectively with your landlord to solve the problem.

Roof Issues

Leaks cause property damage and tenant-landlord friction.

Several apartment management publications identify the roof as the most frequent source of apartment ceiling leaks. Even a small fissure in a roof's covering or coating can let water trickle in, following a pipe or a beam to your ceiling. A prolonged dry spell and leak-free spell suggests the roof as the source of your problems. Because of the area involved, tracing and stopping roof leaks can take more than one try.

Other Exterior Issues

Suspect non-roof water issues if leaks tend to appear mostly on exterior walls and ceiling edges. Clogged drains are a frequent problem, as are damaged gutters. Brick or stone buildings need small cracks or missing chunks of mortar replaced, commonly called repointing, on a regular basis to prevent ceiling and wall leaks.

Indoor Leakage Causes

Not only indoor plumbing, but water pipes, seals and tiling can be the source of leaks from one apartment to another. Shower piping may be solid, but tile grout needs replacing. Small, persistent leaks may travel some distance from above, running along beams or pipes before dripping down, so cannot always be ascribed to the apartment directly above the leak. Tenants should therefore be accommodating to plumbing inspections even if the ceilings of the apartment below are dry.

Tenant Issues

Massive leaks caused by other tenants probably happen on television more than in real life. Assume, when contacting overhead tenants about leaks, that they are as careful and respectful of property as you are, unless you have definite evidence to the contrary. Leaks can come from enough sources that creating friction with neighbors is unnecessary.