How to Correct Plaster Ceiling Leaks

Written by cleveland van cecil
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How to Correct Plaster Ceiling Leaks
Leaks in pipes or through the roof will damage ceiling plaster. (dripped image by Ekaterina Shvigert from

Cement plaster used for ceilings is made of plaster, sand, Portland cement and water. The mixture creates a hard surface that's easily smoothed with a hand trowel. It's usually resistant to damage but will break when the house shifts, when the plaster is hit hard or when water spreads over the surface. Water-damaged plaster will begin to scale and discolour. Bad leaks may cause the plaster to bulge and buckle. Take care of leaks immediately.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Caulk
  • Drop sheet
  • Paint scraper
  • Rag
  • Compressed air
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • Plaster
  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Paint

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  1. 1

    Locate the leak causing the water damage. Search the roofing structure during or after a rainstorm for drips and standing puddles. Inspect all pipes going above the ceiling for leaks. Check the crawlspace area in your roof for leaks if you don't have an attic. Inspect common leak areas on the roof such as chimneys, valleys and the flashing on corners around chimneys and vents. Seal the leaks with caulk or retile the roof to prevent leaks.

    Check for attic condensation if there are no signs of leaks in the roof or from plumbing. This is caused by high humidity. Consider adding a humidifier to the attic space or getting it professionally sealed.

  2. 2

    Lay a plastic drop sheet on the carpet or tile underneath the plaster to catch any flakes.

  3. 3

    Scrape off the scales from the plaster. Some cracks may appear. Wear work gloves, safety glasses and a safety mask during this step to protect your hands, eyes and lungs from falling plaster.

  4. 4

    Wipe the plaster with a rag to remove the dust, and spray it with compressed air to get rid of all particles.

  5. 5

    Dampen the plaster with a spray bottle of water so the plaster is moist. Fill in any cracks with plaster, mixed according to the packaging instructions. Spread the plaster over the hole with a paint scraper and make it as smooth as possible. Allow it to dry overnight.

  6. 6

    Sand the plaster when it's dry with a medium-grit sandpaper if the plaster doesn't dry smooth. Apply the same paint colour to the patch as the rest of the ceiling.

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