Bathroom Vent Leaking Water When It Rains: Here’s What To Do

If you have noticed your bathroom vent is dripping water, it is right to feel concerned. The bathroom vent typically leads out to the roof so a leak should be investigated immediately. Ignoring a leak can result in thousands of dollars worth of water damage to your home. 

A bathroom exhaust fan that is leaking when it rains is a sign that there is a potential problem with either the vent cap or flashing located on the roof. If these are damaged then they need to be repaired or replaced to stop water coming in from outside.

5 Reasons Why Water Is Dripping From Bathroom Exhaust Fan 

It’s not normal for a bathroom exhaust fan to drip water but there are a few reasons why it could be happening. We’ve listed the most common reasons below:

1. Broken Vent Cap 

A cracked or damaged vent cap will allow water to get through when it shouldn’t. Even the smallest crack can let water through. 

2. Gaps in the Vent Cap 

If the vent is not installed properly or is not the right size, there may be gaps that allow water to drip down. Cracks or wear and tear in the seals around the vent cause gaps too. 

3. Loose or Damaged Flashing

The flashing is the metal on the base of the vent cap. It is the part that stops water from going back into the vent from outside. If the flashing is loose, damaged or missing flashing then the water leak is probably going to be outside of the vent pipe. 

4. Water/Snow Accumulation On Roof

If there is a build up of snow or water on the roof it can begin to leak into the vent. The formation of a puddle on the roof in heavy rain could be the reason you notice the vent is leaking when it is pouring with rain outside but not when there are light showers. This can also happen with snow or ice when the temperatures rise enough for it to start melting. 

5. Condensation

The problem might not actually be a leak. It could be condensation caused by the warm moist air hitting the cold vent pipe above the bathroom. The moisture condenses and as the water collects on the metal pipe of the vent, gravity will pull the water and it will begin to drip from the vent. If this is the cause, you will notice water dripping during or after you take warm showers. 

10 Easy Steps To Fix Water Dripping From Bathroom Ceiling Vent 

Water dripping from the bathroom vent is never a good sign but there could be a simple reason it is happening. These 10 steps will help you identify and fix the problem yourself.

Step 1. Turn Off The Power 

Before you start to unscrew and remove the bathroom ceiling vent, turn off the electricity breaker. This is extremely important for your safety so don’t do anything else until the power is off. It may be worth having a flashlight to hand so you can easily take a closer look at the vent without needing the mains power on. 

Step 2. Examine the Vent and Cover 

If you have already been able to identify the reason the vent is dripping, it will be easy for you to fix that specific problem. If you are not sure, start off by checking the vent and the cover in the bathroom. First, remove the screws that are holding the vent cover in place and take it down so you can take a closer look at it. You can also go up to the attic and do the inspection from there if it is easier. 

You are looking for any signs of damage, even very small cracks can cause problems. For example, the vent fan may be becoming rusty or the connection between the fan and the pipe may be worn. If your vent or cover is not in the best condition, simply replace it with a new one. Don’t worry, it is common for bathroom vent covers to need replacing every so often and a new one is an inexpensive purchase. 

Step 3. Check the Damper

With the vent and cover checked, the next thing to do is to take a look at the damper. The damper is the valve that regulates the air flow. Importantly, it should have an open position and a closed position. If the damper gets stuck in an open position it may be playing a role in the issue of condensation and water dripping. Remove and replace the damper if it is found to be faulty.  

Step 4. Secure the Vent Cover 

Now you have checked the vent and vent cover from the bathroom, you can reattach the vent cover. If you have found any damage or issues, replace the cover or unit with a new one. Keep the power off as there are still a few checks to carry out before the vent is safe to use.

Step 5. Go Into the Attic

Once you are in the attic, locate the bathroom vent and check the condition of the vent and the surrounding area. There may be a visible damp area, if so, follow this to find the origin of the leak. There should be no gaps around the vent pipe, gap, or roof. Any signs of light peeking through indicate a gap, which will be causing leaks. 

Step 6. Look For Signs of Water Damage

As the water could be coming in from anywhere, going into the attic will help you figure out where the problem is. You want to look for water or signs of water damage. This is going to help you identify where the leak is coming from. Water damage can include mold, damaged roof sheathing (it will look warped), damaged dry wall or framing, and the insulation may be wet. Water damage will only be visible if the leak has been happening for a while. 

If you notice there is water damage around the vent it could be due to loose or damaged vent flashing. Water damage inside the vent or on the wall suggests the leak is coming in through the roof. After visually examining the area you should have a good idea of where the problems are. 

Step 7. Insulate the Vent Pipe

Before leaving the attic, it may be worth insulating the vent pipe. One of the main reasons a bathroom ceiling vent may drip is because of condensation. This takes place inside the pipe causing water to drip. If the problem is condensation it will happen regardless of the weather and you are more likely to notice it when you have just taken a shower. 

If condensation is the cause of the dripping, you can simply insulate the vent pipe. This is quick and easy and will stop the condensation and dripping. You can skip this step if you don’t think condensation is a problem with your vent. The next step is to go onto the roof and check the vent condition there. Be very careful when going onto the roof. Make sure you have someone with you to help hold the ladder and provide assistance if needed. 

Step 8. Check the Roof Vent 

Now we know that the bathroom vent and vent pipe are in good condition, it’s time to check the roof vent. As the problem happens when it is raining, the roof is the most likely location of the issue. 

A poorly installed roof vent can let water leak from the roof into the pipes. The issue could also be damage, mold or age-related wear and tear. This can impact the roof vent or the flashing. If you think the roof vent is damaged or is not securely installed, get a professional to repair or replace the vent for you. 

Step 9. Examine the Flashing 

If the vent looks fine, check the condition of the flashing. The metal flashing is the part that stops water from getting into the attic through the vent. The flashing may be loose, damaged, or missing. Damaged flashing needs to be removed. Replace the old one with new flashing as this is a long-term and cost-effective solution. 

Remove the old flashing and then position the new flashing. Ensure the flashing is underneath the roof shingles to the top and side but above the shingles that are below the vent pipe. The flashing should fit the pipe snugly and hammer the nails into position. If you did not get nails with the new flashing, make sure you use nails that are the same metal as the flashing you have chosen to avoid corrosion. If you notice damage to the roof then call a professional roofer.

Step 10. That’s It! 

You have now checked each part of the bathroom vent system. As you have repaired and replaced the worn or damaged parts along the way, the system will now be watertight. Some parts (such as the roof vent) will need to be repaired or replaced by a professional. 

FAQs: Answers You Should Know

Below we’ve answered common questions about bathroom vents so you know what to do the next time you notice a problem. 

Is bathroom fan problems connected with water leaking?

Yes, water should not leak from the bathroom fan. If you notice water leaking you should unplug or turn the electricity breaker off for the fan and locate the problem.

Can rain get in roof vents?

Yes, but this only usually happens if there is heavy rain and wind. A damaged vent can cause a leak.

Could bathroom exhaust vent leak be A/C condensation?

The leak could be due to condensation in the exhaust vent pipe. It is highly unlikely the cause is the A/C. 

Next Steps

To summarize, water dripping from a place where there shouldn’t be water is never a good sign. It is important to turn off the power and find the source of the problem as quickly as possible. If you are unsure about the cause of the leak or you cannot go up to the roof yourself to examine the vent, call a professional to assist you. In conclusion, never ignore the problem as water damage is serious if left untreated.

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