Leaks in the upstairs bathroom can be more troublesome than leaks downstairs because there’s a possibility the leak will cause damage to the ceiling and anything on the floor below the bathroom.
Unfortunately, this damage is sometimes the first sign of a small drain pipe leak in the upstairs bathroom. More serious leaks rarely go unnoticed. Whichever type of leak you’ve found, there are steps you can take immediately to prevent more damage.
Look For Hazards
A homeowner’s first response is usually to rush into the bathroom to try to find the source of the leak, but you need to assess the situation first, as the bathroom may not be safe to walk into.
If the ceiling below the bathroom is sagging, or if the leak may have gone undetected for a long time (perhaps if you were just on vacation) you should wait for the professionals. Water damage can make the home unstable. If enough damage has been done to the home, you may fall through the bathroom floor, or someone on a lower level may get hurt.
Another hazard is wet appliances or lights. Frequently ceiling leaks will gather near the light fixture or pool next to the fridge or another appliance. This is very dangerous, as the water can conduct an electrical current from the appliance, especially if it has been damaged.
Don’t try to turn off an appliance or light directly. Instead, go to the breaker box or electrical service panel and switch off the power. The breakers are labeled, so you should be able to turn off power only to the waterlogged areas of the house.
Control the Water
If it’s safe to enter the bathroom, you need to stop the flow of water to the leak. If the water is intermittent, perhaps it leaks every time you flush the toilet, but then dries, all you should do is stop using the upstairs bathroom. Most likely, the leak is in a drainage pipe, either from the shower, toilet, or sink.
If the leak is constant, it’s likely from the supply lines running to the bathroom. If so, you can directly stop the water flow at the toilet’s valve, which should be next to it. Simply turn the valve right to stop the water.
If the leak isn’t from the toilet, this may not help. If the source is the shower, sink, or you’re not sure what the source is, you can shut off water to your whole home, at your main water shut off. This is usually in your basement.
After you’ve successfully stopped the flow of water, you should call a professional plumber to fix the leak for you. Then, while you’re waiting, you can attempt to minimize water damage. Lay down old towels to soak up any visible moisture. Choose towels you don’t care about, as you may need to bleach them later if the leak was from a drain pipe.
By taking these steps as soon as you notice a plumbing leak in the upstairs bathroom, you’ll minimize the safety hazards and prevent more damage to your ceiling and everything else below the leak.