Dripping ceilings should never be left unattended. If they are, the result can be mold and a weakened structure. Here are some steps to repair a leaking ceiling in your home:
Step 1: Find the Source of the Leaking
Unless you pinpoint the source of the problem, any repairs you do will be for naught. If there is a room above the point where the leak can be seen, then source could be in the room above. If that room is a kitchen or bathroom then check the sink, tub, and toilet. If there is a roof above the ceiling, then check the roof for any damages. Once you have found it, then take appropriate action to stop the leak. This might mean replacing a pipe or repairing a roof.
Step 2: Dry the Wet Areas of the Ceiling From Above and Below
Before commencing, ensure that the surrounding furniture is properly covered, preferably with tarp. Dry the ceiling with towels, a vacuum, or fans both above and below. If water is still dripping, then this is a sign of saturation. Continue drying or cut out the wet portions. If the ceiling is swollen, then stab the bulging area using a knife or screwdriver. Exercise caution as water may pour out. To avoid mold, make sure the area is completely dry before you start repairs.
Step 3: Cut out the Damaged Parts
Remove any parts of the ceiling that are still loose or bulging with a putty knife or paint scraper. This won’t be necessary on a smooth surface.
Step 4: Smooth the Ceiling Surface
Smooth over the surface between the affected and clean areas with sandpaper. For large holes, repair with sheets of drywall or plaster. For smaller holes, use joint compound and remove any bumps with sandpaper.
Step 5: Prime and Paint
Apply primer over any visible stains. Allow the primer to dry and apply a second coat if it is still visible. Once the primer is dry, begin painting with the appropriate color. If you want a uniform color, then paint the whole ceiling.
These steps can be followed, but the easiest thing may simply be to call a professional. Whether you choose to do it yourself or have someone else do it, it is important to attend to a dripping ceiling early on as this can cause much bigger and more costly problems down the road.