How Much Does Ceiling Repair Cost?
From water damage to structural issues, ceiling repair is a common home repair project. The national average ceiling repair cost is $884, falling within a typical range of $419 to $1,359.
- Typical Range: $419 to $1,359
- National Average: $884
Ceiling damage can be linked to multiple issues. Hidden water leaks are often to blame for stains, sagging ceilings, or peeling paint. In a bathroom, humidity or condensation can lead to serious ceiling issues, including mold or mildew. Structural issues can cause ceiling cracks, while ceilings in older homes tend to develop spider-webbing or hairline cracks over time.
While ceiling issues are sometimes cosmetic, others can be dangerous. A sagging ceiling can collapse and cause serious injury or worse. A damaged ceiling won’t get better on its own and can lead to additional home repairs if ignored for too long. That’s why it’s best to get a ceiling repair quote as soon as possible once symptoms and signs are noticed.
According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, ceiling repair cost ranges from $419 to $1,359, with a national average of $884. This guide will cover the factors that influence ceiling repair cost, along with DIY tips and money-saving ideas homeowners can use on their next ceiling repair project.
Factors in Calculating Ceiling Repair Cost
There are several factors that influence ceiling repair cost, including size, material, and repair method. Homeowners may benefit from knowing how the following matters can financially sway a ceiling repair.
The easiest way to estimate ceiling repair cost is to go by size or square footage. Not all ceiling professionals charge by square footage. Some prefer an hourly rate, depending on the size of the job. For example, charging by square footage to fix a few nail holes doesn’t make much sense.
But if charged by size, homeowners can expect to pay between $45 and $90 per square foot. This refers to the size being repaired, not the entire size of the ceiling. Hourly charges could be higher or lower based on the contractor’s experience or the amount of work the repair job entails.
When it comes to estimating the cost of ceiling repair by size, homeowners can expect rates to fluctuate based on the ceiling material. For example, traditional drywall offers the most affordable rates with a price range of $45 to $55 per square foot. Lightweight sheetrock repair isn’t much more expensive with a price range of $50 to $60 per square foot. When it comes to plaster and lath, homeowners can expect to pay between $65 and $80. Popcorn ceiling repairs are the most expensive, with a repair cost range of $75 to $90. Drop tile ceilings are priced a bit differently by material, with new tiles costing between $2 and $17 per square foot.
Just like flooring and walls, ceilings are unique in different areas of a home. Since different ceilings can develop different issues depending on location, repair costs can vary. For example, a garage ceiling can fall victim to moisture damage if a garage door isn’t properly insulated. Repairing a garage roof costs between $100 and $800. A kitchen ceiling is less likely to suffer from humid conditions, but other repairs have a cost range between $100 and $1,000.
Bathrooms and basements can suffer from water damage thanks to the additional plumbing typically running near or above. Both locations experience repair costs falling between $200 and $1,000. For mobile home ceiling panels, repair costs average $150 to $900.
There are several repair types that a damaged ceiling may need. Of course, they all have unique price ranges based on necessary materials, the complexity of the task, and the time it takes to complete.
For example, fixing a hairline crack in plaster costs between $100 and $300, while fixing a crack in drywall costs between $100 and $500. Fixing a hole in the ceiling can be as much as $600. Repairing an unsightly seam in a ceiling has a price range of $150 to $500. Removing asbestos from an older roof with tiles costs about $450. And repairing a ceiling after someone has fallen through it costs between $250 and $750.
More expensive repair types include sagging, with a price range between $250 and $1,000. Water damage costs $200 and $1,500 to repair, while repairing a leak and a damaged ceiling can be as much as $2,000.
Not all repair methods involve the same level of expertise, tools, or time; several different repair methods are used by professionals to fix or treat a ceiling. For example, holes or cracks can often be repaired by caulking or patching. Caulking has a price range of $100 to $500, while patching drywall costs between $100 and $600.
Replastering plaster ceilings, a common repair method in older homes, has a price range of $300 to $1,500. When it comes to repairing a ceiling with drywall, there are a few different repair methods that may be used. Taping costs $150 to $500, while mudding costs between $150 to $600. Sanding down a ceiling to a smooth surface after taping and mudding costs between $100 and $1,000.
While not always the case, repairing ceilings in an older home is likely going to be more expensive than repairing ceilings in a newer home. First, older homes have older plumbing, which is more likely to fail and lead to extensive water damage repairs. Another potential cost-raising issue is asbestos. Not all old ceiling tiles contain asbestos, but those that do pose a serious health risk that costs extra to eliminate.
Newer homes tend to be built with easier access throughout, including for ceiling repairs. This can equate to faster repair jobs and lower labor costs. Newer homes are also mainly constructed with drywall or sheetrock, where plaster was the material of choice decades ago. Plaster can be repaired, but it can be a time-consuming task. And in some cases, it may be better to replace a plaster ceiling with drywall, which can be expensive in large spaces.
Ceiling repairs vary in complexity, which is why several professionals may be required to assist. For this reason, there is a large range in labor costs for ceiling repair. Homeowners can expect to pay between $50 and $150 per hour when having a ceiling repaired, depending on whether a ceiling repair company, general contractor, or plumber is called in for the job.
Some companies may also charge callout fees to come and survey the damage. They typically provide a quote during this visit as well. A callout fee can be between $50 and $100, though many companies will waive this fee if they’re hired for the job.
Labor costs vary by location, along with the costs of permits, and materials. Depending on an area’s general cost of living, ceiling repairs can have large differences in cost ranges.
For example, ceiling repair is most affordable in Florida, where homeowners can pay as little as $400; it can also be as much as $1,380. Texas has a slightly smaller price range, with ceiling repair costs between $470 and $1,230.
Massachusetts has a ceiling repair range between $580 and $1,000. New York has a similar starting rate of $570, but repairs can go as high as $1,380, quite a bit higher than those for its eastern neighbor.
California has some of the highest ceiling repair costs, with a price range between $550 and $1,660.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Some ceiling repair jobs require a few extra steps that can increase the total cost. While not all jobs will incur one of the following additional costs and considerations, they’re helpful to understand when homeowners are receiving quotes for a ceiling repair.
Repair vs. Replacement
When it comes to fixing a ceiling, the question of whether to repair or replace may come up. The answer best depends on the scenario. A repair may not always be possible, and while a full replacement has its benefits, it may not always be within the homeowner’s budget.
If a ceiling is structurally unfit, the only option is to replace it. Replacement is also worth considering if a ceiling requires multiple repairs in multiple areas. In such a case, a replacement may be the more affordable choice.
If a ceiling isn’t aesthetically pleasing to a homeowner, they may want to consider a replacement instead of a repair to update the space, even if it isn’t required. But since a full replacement can cost up to $3,000, it’s not a project to rush into. If a ceiling can get by with a simple repair that’s friendlier on the budget, a homeowner will certainly want to consider the more affordable route.
When the cause of ceiling damage isn’t obvious, a ceiling inspection can answer questions and provide clarity on how to remedy the problem. Of course, these come at a cost; homeowners can expect to pay between $100 and $200 for a ceiling inspection.
During a ceiling inspection, a professional will check for cracks, holes, or other signs of structural damage. They’ll inspect it from the ground below but also from above if a home’s architectural design allows. After the inspection, a homeowner can expect to learn about issues that need immediate attention and signs that point to potential future problems. Having a ceiling routinely inspected is one of the best ways for homeowners to avoid costly and messy ceiling issues.
In some scenarios, it’s not just a ceiling that needs to be repaired. If a water leak is to blame for a collapsed ceiling, there are likely plumbing and flooring repairs along with water removal services that could come into play. If a limb has crashed through a roof and the ceiling below, the cost of roof repairs is a necessity along with the ceiling repair cost.
When a serious ceiling disaster occurs, it’s usually impractical to fix only the ceiling itself. Depending on the professional hired to repair the ceiling, there could also be a need to call in other professionals with the right type of experience to tackle any uncovered portions of the job.
Mold growth on a ceiling requires immediate attention. Mold can lead to serious health issues and will only spread if ignored. If it gets bad enough, a home can even be labeled uninhabitable. In some cases, the only option is to remove the affected ceiling. If the mold isn’t penetrating the drywall and the cause of the growth (like high humidity levels) can be resolved, however, removal is an option. When it comes to mold remediation cost, homeowners can expect to pay between $10 and $25 per square foot.
Unfortunately, some ceiling repairs qualify as emergencies. This can be due to a severe storm that sends large limbs into a living room or because of a water leak that ends with a collapsed ceiling. Homeowners may be left wondering who to call for a water leak in the ceiling and paying emergency fees to get a professional out as soon as possible.
In a traditional ceiling repair, jobs are sometimes scheduled weeks out. But if an emergency repair needs same-day services, a homeowner can expect to pay between $100 and $200 to gain instant access to a repair crew.
Types of Ceiling Repair
With so many different ceiling locations, materials, and issues to consider, it’s no wonder that there are multiple types of ceiling repair tasks. While a ceiling repair job may need only one of the following repairs or a combination, homeowners with a basic understanding of each repair type can better understand and estimate the scope of a ceiling repair project.
Water Damage Repair
Water damage can be caused by a broken pipe, a leaking roof, or a natural disaster that exceeds a home’s limits. When it comes to water damage repair for a ceiling, homeowners can expect to pay between $45 and $55 per square foot. This includes materials and labor for the ceiling but not for the cause of the damage.
Homeowners can expect a water damage repair cost to grow by $175 to $3,000 for plumbing repairs and $200 to $1,500 for HVAC repairs. If the roof needs to be repaired, this could tack on an additional $360 to $1,550. Finally, a roof replacement costs between $3.50 and $5 per square foot.
Sagging Ceiling Repair
A sagging ceiling can be caused by excess moisture, leaks, over-insulating, termites, or weakened beams and ceiling supports. A shifting foundation can also be a serious cause of a sagging ceiling. No matter the cause, a sagging ceiling will need to be inspected sooner than later to prevent a total collapse.
As a general rule of thumb, homeowners can expect to pay a professional around $75 an hour to fix a sagging ceiling. This cost is for labor only. Materials are an additional cost, and there could be more than just drywall required, like insulation. Despite the potential cost, having a sagging ceiling repaired as soon as possible is important for safety and financial reasons.
Ceiling Hole Repair
A hole in the ceiling isn’t just an eyesore. It can invite unwanted weather and even pests into a home’s living space. And despite the ceiling receiving very little human contact during the day, ceiling holes can be quite common.
Whether an indoor game gets a little too rowdy or a ceiling fan has been removed from a living space, a ceiling hole can serve as a daily reminder that repair work is needed. Ceiling hole repairs run from $180 to $370, depending on the size of the hole and the type of ceiling material needed to get the job done.
Ceiling Crack Repair
Ceiling cracks can be caused by normal settling, or they can signal a serious structural issue. Generally speaking, the larger the crack, the more concerning it is. Even small cracks may require attention, so it’s best to have ceiling cracks inspected by a professional.
Small ceiling cracks are often a quick fix that is quoted by the project instead of by the hour or square foot. But if a foundation repair is needed (a common cause of large ceiling cracks), homeowners can expect to pay around $4,500 to stabilize the foundation and stop any existing ceiling cracks from getting worse.
Ceiling Seam Repair
Ceiling seams can sometimes become visible when a house undergoes considerable settling, especially in ceilings made from drywall. It’s possible to hide drywall seams with paper tape, compound, a bit of sanding, and some paint, but if settling is the cause, seams are likely to continue to appear on a ceiling.
Seams can be professionally repaired for fast results, but damaged or loose sections must be completely removed and replaced for the best results. This type of ceiling repair costs between $150 and $500.
Ceiling Joist Repair
Ceiling joists are horizontal members spanning a ceiling. They transfer roof loads to vertical members, and without them, an entire house could cave in. So if a ceiling joist is damaged, a quick repair is essential. In some homes, a ceiling joist may be improperly sized or spaced. This costly error also requires fast repair.
Fixing ceiling joists costs between $150 and $700. In some cases, patching material can be used to reinforce a joist, saving a homeowner from a full replacement cost.
Ceiling Beam Repair
A ceiling beam can be a decorative statement piece in a room’s decor, but in some cases, ceiling beams provide major structural support for a ceiling. If a ceiling beam begins to sag, crack, or wear down, a repair is important to prevent further structural issues and potential safety hazards.
Replacing a beam can be incredibly expensive, which is why a reputable contractor will always look for ways to repair a ceiling beam first. A repair could require patching and reinforcement to get the beam back to its original strength. On average, homeowners pay between $150 and $1,000 to repair structural beams.
Ceiling Leak Repair
Ceiling leaks are one of the costliest home repairs for homeowners. When one does strike, repairs can’t be put off for long. As water continues to leak, more materials can succumb to water damage, including drywall, wood, insulation, and even flooring if a ceiling eventually collapses. The source of the leak also needs to be located and addressed, whether it’s a pipe or roofing issue.
When a ceiling with a leak is being repaired, large sections may need to be removed. This could be because they’re too damaged to repair or because access is required to repair the leak. The price range to fix a leak in a ceiling is between $500 and $2,000, depending on the square footage of the damage and the type of repairs the leak requires.
Peeling Paint Repair
After most ceiling repairs, a bit of paint is likely needed to finish the job. Some ceiling repairs are just about tending to a bit of peeling paint. Whatever the reason, painting a ceiling costs $1 to $2 per square foot. At this price point, homeowners can expect flaking, peeling, sagging, and bubbling to be repaired.
If sanding and patching are also needed, an additional $1 to $3 is likely per square foot. To help homeowners understand total peeling paint repair costs, here are some numbers to keep in mind: A bathroom costs between $50 and $300 to paint, while a bedroom costs between $150 and $600. A living room can cost as much as $1,000, while homeowners will want to budget up to $2,000 to repaint a basement with peeling paint.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is harmless enough on its own. Breathing in asbestos fibers can increase the risk of serious diseases, however, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. Asbestos is commonly found in popcorn ceilings and can be released into the air during removal or repairs. It can also be present in insulation behind a ceiling.
It’s always best to have a professional remove any material that may include asbestos. Ceiling asbestos removal costs between $400 and $500. Homeowners can test for asbestos if that is a concern—a test from their local home improvement store can provide peace of mind or set the wheel in motion for removal. Homeowners may also choose to pay the extra popcorn ceiling removal cost and replace it with a more modern material.
Do I Need Ceiling Repair?
Certain ceiling culprits, like water leaks, can go unnoticed for some time, but not forever. Eventually, a ceiling will show signs that it requires repair. The following are some of the most common signs homeowners should look for when it comes to ceiling conditions.
Long, Continuous Cracks
A single, small crack isn’t likely a serious problem, but one, big, continuous crack is almost certainly a sign of a structural issue. This isn’t a ceiling repair a homeowner will want to handle on their own. A homeowner may be able to diagnose the issue by looking at types of ceiling cracks with pictures online, but to ensure safety, a professional needs to be called in to inspect the entire home’s structure to pinpoint the issue.
While not as common, multiple small ceiling cracks can also be a sign of a serious structural problem, especially if they’re concentrated in one area. For safety reasons, a professional inspection should always be performed when ceiling cracks are a concern. And since a simple coat of paint won’t cover them up, a professional repair may still be necessary even if there are no structural issues.
Unfortunately, a musty smell almost always indicates mold. If a small leak has gone unnoticed in a ceiling, it can eventually lead to mold growth that fills the affected area with a musty smell. When mold is hidden in a ceiling, most people describe the smell as musty, stale, and earthy.
Living with mold can be dangerous, so repairs shouldn’t be put off for too long. In some individuals, mold can cause respiratory issues, eye irritation, sinus congestion, sneezing, and headaches. When a ceiling has a musty smell, repairs are likely to involve replacing all infected drywall panels.
Water stains on a ceiling are always a sign that something is amiss. Whether the stains are a result of plumbing leaks, HVAC leaks, or roofing problems, the root cause needs to be identified and addressed as soon as possible. Some homeowners find water stains to be a cosmetic issue, which they certainly can be. But they can also be a sign of a serious hidden issue.
What does a water stain look like? It typically has a brown tint to it, due to an additive found in house paint for stabilization. When water sits for long periods, it reactivates the additive, which then begins to eat through the paint. This process leads to the brown ceiling water stains, a sure sign of water where it shouldn’t be.
Damp or Wet Patches
Damp or wet patches on a ceiling are never a good sign, but the issue can sometimes be quickly remedied. Water stains often take on a brown shade, but when a ceiling is wet without a brown color to it, it’s typically a sign that the moisture is coming from the room itself and not a broken pipe or leaking roof from above.
In this case, condensation is typically to blame. Extractor fans or dehumidifiers can help. If the cause of the damp patches is coming from inside the room and is quickly addressed, repair may not be needed. But if it sits for too long and develops mold, the area in question may need to be repaired.
A cracking noise in a ceiling can be a side effect of normal shifting or settling, which doesn’t require any sort of repair work. In some cases, though, cracking noises can signal serious issues, including water damage and roofing problems.
If the cracking is occurring during a temperature change and is mainly heard in the evening, it’s likely wood in the ceiling expanding and contracting in response to colder weather. But if the cracking noises are consistent and don’t seem related to Mother Nature’s thermostat, an inspection could uncover underlying issues. especially if there are other signs of damage, like stains or sagging.
Pillowing, Sagging, or Bowing
A sagging ceiling isn’t just a cosmetic issue; it can be a very serious issue and even lead to a ceiling collapse. There are a few causes behind a pillowing, sagging, or bowing ceiling. The first is a faulty foundation. If the ceiling is sagging and cracks keep popping up in the drywall, homeowners will want to call a foundation expert to evaluate the home.
Poorly installed drywall is another reason behind a sagging ceiling, especially if there are no other obvious causes. Drywall that is too thin or light will eventually sag as it struggles to support the weight of the ceiling. Once reinforced, it should no longer sag.
Finally, water damage can be behind a sagging ceiling. Undetected leaks can cause water to accumulate in the ceiling and weigh it down. If the leak isn’t stopped, the ceiling will continue to sag, eventually start to drip water, and finally collapse.
Continuously Peeling Paint
There are many reasons paint may peel regularly. If a room’s walls and the ceiling suddenly start to develop cracks, surface holes, or even large strips of missing paint, it could simply be the result of a bad paint job or a superhumid environment. Improper paint prep and too many layers of paint can also lead to peeling.
But peeling paint can also signal water damage. This could be as simple as a bathroom holding on to too much moisture after a shower or as serious as a burst pipe leaking water onto the inner surface of a ceiling. Unless the reason for peeling paint is obvious, a quick professional ceiling inspection can set the record straight and detect any potentially serious causes.
Ceiling Repair: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Damaged ceiling drywall needs to be repaired as soon as possible. Simply painting over cracks won’t cover them up. Holes in drywall can expose a home to the elements, including cold winds and annoying pests. Damaged drywall can also make a home less energy efficient and cause higher energy bills.
But can a homeowner DIY ceiling repair? It depends. While there are a few types of ceiling repair that can easily be tackled by a homeowner with minimal experience. Some types of ceiling repairs, though, are best left to the pros.
For DIY ceiling repair, homeowners can try their hand at repairing small holes, scuffed drywall, and loose inside-corner tape. They’ll want to make sure they work in a well-lit space and always prep the wall first to make sure the repair meshes well with the existing material.
DIY ceiling repair is incredibly affordable. Most jobs can be completed for about $45, which includes drywall and patching materials. Paint isn’t included in this estimate but a small can of ceiling paint should get the job done, so long as homeowners remember to match the color to the existing one.
However, homeowners will want to call a pro if there are large holes to patch or if a ceiling has significant cracks, which could signal structural or foundation issues. And if water damage is to blame for a damaged ceiling, a professional can make sure the source of the leak is properly repaired and that the drywall won’t become a dangerous source of mold months down the road.
Hiring a professional ceiling repair contractor will cost more than a DIY approach, with most of the associated cost coming from labor. But the added experience, skills, and speed a professional brings to the table (or ceiling) are worth the added cost if the issue is severe enough.
How to Save Money on Ceiling Repair Cost
With an average cost of $838, ceiling repair isn’t the most expensive home repair project there is. But that doesn’t mean it’s a cost that homeowners are thrilled to pay. The following tips can help a homeowner shave away part of their ceiling repair cost without sacrificing quality.
- Prevent damage before it begins. Keeping up with outdoor maintenance can prevent ceiling repairs. For example, regular roof inspections can spot the potential for leaks that can lead to ceiling damage. Staying ahead of leaks will make the need for ceiling repair less likely.
- Act quickly at the first sign of damage. A ceiling in desrepair will never fix itself. Ignoring signs of a damaged ceiling will almost certainly lead to more extensive and more costly repairs. Acting quickly won’t eliminate the cost of ceiling repair, but it may help save money in the long run.
- Get multiple quotes. Asking for multiple quotes from different contractors can help find a competitive price. Asking for an itemized invoice can help ensure that you’re not being excessively charged for parts or labor.
- Consider repair versus replacement. In some cases, replacement is the only way to fix a damaged ceiling. But if patching is an option, it can be less expensive and still provide aesthetic results.
- Allow drying time before repairs. Moisture and drywall don’t mix. Mold growth can become an issue months after a repair if the affected area isn’t removed entirely or allowed to completely dry before being repaired. Not giving a damaged ceiling enough time to dry can result in double the repair time and cost.
- Speak to your insurance company. In some cases of ceiling damage, a homeowners insurance policy may cover part of the repair cost. It’s always best to speak to the insurance broker responsible for the policy before starting any repairs to see if the damage is a covered peril. For example, insurance often covers the cost of hail damage repair.
Questions to Ask About Ceiling Repair
A ceiling repair may seem like a simple home improvement job, but it can involve several categories of work, from plumbing repair to drywall taping to painting. A homeowner may find they need more than one professional to handle the job, especially if the damage is widespread. In other scenarios, a standard contractor may have a perfect skill set to take on the repair.
To help narrow down a list of professional contenders after searching for “ceiling repair near me,” homeowners can ask a combination of the following questions.
- How many years of experience do you have?
- Do you complete the work yourself, with a team of employees, or with the help of subcontractors?
- Are you licensed and insured?
- Do you offer free quotes?
- What does a quote include?
- How are additional repairs not noted in the original quote handled?
- Can you handle all aspects of the job, or is another professional required?
- Can you recommend additional contractors if needed?
- How do you work with other contractors?
- When can the job start?
- How long will the job take?
- If the job is expected to take multiple days, what will a typical day look like?
- Where are tools and materials stored for longer repair jobs?
- Do I need to move furniture from the room before the repair begins?
- How will you protect my belongings from dust and debris?
- Can my family use the affected room while the repair is being done?
- Do you offer any warranties or guarantees on your work?
- What does a typical payment timeline look like?
- How do you handle disputes?
- How do you handle additional work requests?
- Do you handle securing permits and setting up any required inspections?
To avoid additional costs and issues, homeowners need to look into ceiling repair cost as soon as possible. Homeowners who need ceiling repair can expect the final cost to fall within the range of $419 to $1,359. The following FAQs may help answer the question of whether or not a ceiling needs to be repaired and how to go about tackling the situation.
Q. Can you repair part of the ceiling?
Yes. When just a portion of the ceiling is damaged, the affected drywall panel can be replaced. In most situations, the professional will clear the attic insulation, remove the drywall, and add nailing strips before screwing in a new drywall panel. The project is finished after taping, mudding, sanding, and painting.
Q. How do you fix a water damaged ceiling?
A water-damaged ceiling requires immediate attention. The first thing to do is protect furniture and valuables around the area and set up a bucket to collect any dripping water. Next, the source of the leak needs to be identified and repaired. After the affected area has completely dried (to prevent mold growth inside the ceiling), it’s time for repairs. This could involve a bit of spackle and paint or an entire ceiling replacement, depending on the severity of the leak.
Q. What causes a ceiling to fall down?
Ceilings don’t fall down without cause. Some of the most common causes of fallen ceilings include severe storm damage, hidden water leaks, too much weight bearing down from above, poor craftsmanship during construction, or poor material usage, such as adhesive. It’s important to seek out a professional opinion when a ceiling begins to show signs of damage to prevent a collapse.
Q. Do I need to replace the ceiling after the leak?
A ceiling damaged by a leak needs to be replaced as soon as possible. Drywall that has been compromised by moisture can be a structural problem; there’s also the risk of hidden mold growth. And while it’s not the most important reason to look into replacement, damaged drywall often stains and can create an eyesore if not replaced.
Q. Can a sagging ceiling be fixed?
Yes, a sagging ceiling can be fixed with one of two approaches. The cause of a sagging ceiling is often undersized drywall. It can either be replaced with thicker drywall (5/8-inch is recommended) or covered with a second layer of 5/8-inch drywall after adding furring strips to the existing layer.
Q. Can a ceiling collapse from water?
Yes, a ceiling can collapse from water damage. Like other building components, a ceiling can handle only so much weight. During a leak, drywall will soak, swell, and soften as water collects. A gallon of water weighs over eight pounds, so if a leak goes undetected for long enough, it’s only a matter of time before a ceiling collapses.