Just Ask Jake: A Question About Water Stains

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Last updated on February 19, 2015

Are Water Spots on Kitchen Ceiling a Sign of a Leaky Toilet?Charlie Schloegel

Our Handyman Charlie Answers Some Tough Questions in This Special Just Ask Jake

Recently our General Manager of Schloegel Property Solutions and all-around Handyman Extraordinaire, Charlie Schloegel, answered some questions regarding water stains from a possible leaky toilet in this very special installment of “Just Ask Jake”.

Hi Charlie!

I wanted to touch base on a home repair question. My boyfriend lives in a townhome, and he thinks the seal on his toilet is failing…primarily because there are now water spots on the ceiling in his kitchen (below said toilet). He’s had the water turned off for a couple weeks, and the spots have gotten worse. He thinks he’s going to need to have the toilet replaced and the ceiling patched/repaired. Any help or advice would be much appreciated.




Hi Lauren,

Sorry to hear about this dilemma.

A couple of things:

1. Even with the water shut off to the toilet from the shut-off valve at the wall, there could be leaking from the shut-off valve itself. Place your hand on the valve to see if there is any moisture at the valve or touch the floor to see if there is any moisture. If you don’t feel any, put a piece of TP under the shut-off valve for a few hours and check on it to see if it shows any signs of moisture.

2. Check around the base of the toilet, do you feel any moisture around the base? If so, the wax ring could be bad. Place some red or blue food dye in the tank of the toilet, flush the toilet and check around the base for any signs of the dyed water showing itself at the base of the toilet (you may want to use a flashlight and get real close!). You may even want to wrap the base of the toilet in a white towel to draw out any moisture.

If neither of these show any signs of moisture I’d recommend cutting a hole in the ceiling where you see the water stains and flushing the toilet a few times to see what’s going on, as you’re more than likely going to need to do this anyway to repair the ceiling. If the ceiling is textured or popcorn this could present a texture matching issue when repairing.

While you have the hole cut you may have to make it bigger and bigger to see what’s going on to ensure you have a whole perspective of the issues.

Our Handymen are very well-versed in these types of repairs from the troubleshooting through the finish painting. Our technicians generally have 15+ years of experience in remodeling – residential and commercial & new construction – residential and commercial. Typically we charge by the hour to troubleshoot the problem and once we are complete with the troubleshooting and have a resolution we can provide you a contract price for the repairs.

If we can be of any assistance, please let me know. Best of luck!


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