Tips to Spot Hidden Water Damage

Water damaged ceiling

A burst pipe, a toilet overflowing, or standing water may all be circumstances that are abrupt, loud and apparent; making it obvious you have a new water problem in your home. But what about those moments when you have a leak that goes undetected for days, weeks or even months. It’s hidden… slowly and quietly causing massive destruction. When water strays from its main corridor it can cause damage to whatever lies in its path, like walls, floors, and even the air as mold makes the air moister which can eventually become toxic. Water, if undetected, can certainly cause permanent structural damage to your home. It can occur anywhere in a home, although there are a few areas that may be more susceptible than others. To prevent water damage, it’s always wise to take precautions and periodically inspect your home.

Early Warning Signs of Water Damage

Water damage brings itself to light in a variety of ways, through discoloration, texture change and odors, all depending on its location. Wherever there is water damage there will always be signs that it exists but if you don’t know where to look it may go unnoticed. For example, discoloration on the ceiling may be easier to spot rather than mold growth in the basement. Before we discuss where to check, it’s important to know what to look for.

Accumulation: One telltale sign that water damage either exists or may become a problem if not handled is standing or pooling water that has accumulated. This often results from different appliances such as dishwashers, water heaters, faucets, and toilets. However, pooling water can also mean you have a leaky roof or drainage pipe problems.

Discoloration: Water damage that is left undetected can leave a home looking dirtier than it is because water can cause stains and spotted walls, scarred carpets, and even rusted pipes and/or water heaters. The affected area may turn yellow, brown, or copper and cause wall paint or wallpaper to start bubbling up, cracking or peeling.

Texture: Flooring may have some discoloration but the main sign your flooring has water damage is through its change in texture. As the flooring absorbs the water and it seeps into different layers there may be a variation of what signs it may portray.

  • Warping: Consists of gaps between floorboard and the edges begin to lift. This tends to be caused by the change in humidity and temperature.
  • Buckling: Happens in wood flooring when the wood detaches from the main layer.
  • Sagging/Sinking: It becomes apparent that there is a soft spot where wood has started to rot.
  • Expansion: This begins when too much water has been absorbed and swelling and separation occur.

Odor: When you notice a moldy and mildew(ey) smell that gives off a musty odor it may be evidence that water damage has developed in your home. There are some drywall materials that take on sponge-like characteristics in the presence of water and it thoroughly absorbs and attracts the moisture creating the perfect growth place for mold. This will eventually lead to discoloration and a noticeable odor.

Common Places to Check for Water Damage

Water damage isn’t always avoidable but knowing where it’s likely to strike can help you become more aware and cautious of its potential. Here is a list of the common places that water damage may occur. Create a checklist and thoroughly inspect your home so you can either detect or take preventative measures in fighting against any water damage.

  • Ceilings: Water damage on the ceiling may be a result of a few things. It depends on what is above the ceiling, for example, if you notice water damage on the top level of a home then it may be coming from a leaky roof. If the ceiling is water damaged on a lower level and a bathroom is directly above then it is probably a cause of a burst pipe or water leaking through cracks in the floorboards. Water damage on the ceiling often times means you have a pretty big problem and needs to be addressed immediately.
  • Walls: Water damage on walls is often times the easiest and most noticeable place to detect a problem as it’s usually not too difficult to spot stains and discoloration on some of the largest parts of your home. However, as you inspect your walls be sure to check around door and window frames for any stains. A large unusual stain could be a sign of some major damage like a leaky pipe or drain inside your wall. Look for cracks in the drywall and when a wall has been exposed to water it may have a swollen effect and could be soft to the touch.
  • Floors: Water damage on flooring can be a result of numerous things; overflowing sinks or bathtubs, flooding from appliances and/or leaks from a bad pipe. You’ll immediately know that water is the culprit if you see any warping or buckling of your floors. Also, a general dampness and mold smell may also be a cause of water damaged flooring and carpets.
  • Pipes: There is piping that runs all throughout your home but it is especially important to check the connections among those pipes. For instance, inspect the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and basement for any rust corrosion, leaks or water stains around the visible pipes. As you are inspecting always check for any signs of mold.
  • Exterior/foundations: The exterior of your home is not exempt from water damage. If your yard does not drain properly or the gutter spouts aren’t doing their job, then water can begin to pool up against the house. This, if left untreated, can cause detrimental damage to the structure of your home.
  • Roof: Check the roof for any signs of cracked, curled, or missing shingles. After wind and/or rain, take the time to look for damage because you could have leaks or peeling shingles that will increase your future risk of water damage. If you live in a colder climate, be aware of ice dams that could develop on your roof that could likely cause some leaking when it melts. Also, inspect other problem areas such as roof vents, chimneys, flashings, and the valley’s of the rooftop to help discover water issues before the water damage starts or gets too bad.
  • Appliances: Refrigerator, dishwasher, washer/dryer, water heater, toilets, and sinks are all areas you need to periodically check to be sure there is no pooling or leaking of water. Appliances or fixtures often cause water damage through faulty pieces that are not easily seen. A cracked hose or a loose connection could result in failure of an appliance causing a leak or flooding in the home.

Water damage will always be an inconvenience so being prepared and aware of how to properly inspect your home could really help prevent major problems. If you suspect a water issue, AWR Restoration & Cleaning is ready and available to help. We send professionals with the skill and experience necessary to help eliminate your problem and leave your home as it was prior to the damage. Don’t allow water damage to go untreated!

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