3 Reasons Why Your Light Fixture Is Suddenly Leaking

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Reviewed by Andy Kilborn
Updated January 31, 2022
Leaky pipe in the ceiling
Photo: PixelsEffect / E+ / Getty Images

Highlights

  • There are three primary causes for water leaking through a light fixture.

  • Once you spot a leaking light fixture, turn your electricity off until it’s fixed.

  • Call a plumber or other qualified professional immediately.

  • If the problem is a damaged roof, the repairs will cost an average of $940.

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Picture this: It’s a bright, beautiful day, and you walk into the bathroom to brush your teeth and wash your face. You flip on the light switch, and instead of light, you’re suddenly facing a stream of water that’s falling from your overhead light fixture.

There are several possibilities for why water is leaking through your light fixture, but there are often three main culprits that cause this issue.

1. Damaged Roof

Unfortunately, roof damage can happen at any time. Although it’s our home’s first line of defense against Mother Nature, roofs can be impaired by several causes, such as severe weather, an aging structure, or even pests.

Severe Weather

When heavy weather occurs, it can hit your roof hard. High winds and excess amounts of rain or snow can cause quite a bit of damage to the roof’s structural integrity.

If the roof can’t handle the impact of severe weather, rain or snow will seep into the roof and enter the attic. Once the water is in the attic, it will flow down to the lower floors through any crack or opening. So, if there are any light fixtures connected to the attic, then there’s a good chance this is the cause of your unexpected rain shower.

Aging Structure

Over time, the roof and the materials connected to it will start to age. A roof will last anywhere from 20 to 175 years, depending on the roofing material. Common parts of the roof that typically age fastest include shingles, flashing, and rafters. Once your roof hits the upper limits of its lifespan, it’ll start to deteriorate, providing more opportunities for water to sneak in and flow through your light fixtures.

Pests and Wild Animals

Pests and wild animals can cause damage to your roof when they’re looking for food or shelter. Wild animals—such as squirrels, birds, and other rodents—may pick at and pull apart the roofing material to use it for nests or burrows. In comparison, pests like termites can use the wood frame of your roof as their new favorite restaurant. Once condensation or rainfall comes through the holes in the roof created by pests or animals, it poses the same risk as severe weather.

2. Broken or Damaged Pipes

Another likely suspect in the mystery of water leaking through your light fixtures is a broken or damaged pipe. If the leaky light fixture is in the bathroom or the kitchen, an impaired pipe is likely to blame because these rooms typically have the most amount of water running through them. You may also notice this issue if the water is leaking into a room underneath a bathroom or laundry room.

You’ll need to hire a local plumbing repair service to address this issue, as you never want to take risks when mixing electricity and water. For the time being, you should not turn on the light where the water is leaking from to avoid the risk of fire. If there’s a steady stream coming from the light fixture, flip off the breaker to the light.

3. Leaky Ducts

Damaged pipe with leaking water
Photo: LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS / Adobe Stock

If you live in a two-story home or a condo, there’s a chance that the bathroom on the floor above you isn’t draining the water correctly. Occasionally, excess water on the bathroom floor can slip into floor vents and, if there are any holes in the ducts, cause the water to start leaking through a light fixture. This leak could come from a bathtub, sink, or even a pipe in the wall.

How to Handle a Water Leak in a Light Fixture

“Water leaking from a light fixture is a serious problem—if you experience this, you should address it immediately,” warns Handyperson Andrew Kilborn.

Water leaking from a light fixture is a major red flag that requires immediate professional attention. After you shut off the electricity to the affected area, you should call a local plumber stat. After getting off the phone, you’ll want to follow a few water damage repair tips to save your furniture and flooring.

If the problem is caused by the roof rather than the pipes, you should call a local roofing repair company. On average, the cost to repair a roof is around $940, but this final price tag will depend on the severity of the roof damage and the complicity of the repair.

On the off chance that it’s a vent problem, you may need to talk with whoever uses the bathroom upstairs. If they swear there’s no problem, then you’ll need to hire a duct repair professional.

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