5 Signs You Could Have Water Damage: How to Identify the Most Common Signs of Water Damage and What to do if You See Them
Water can cause extensive damage to your home, especially if it’s left unresolved for an extended period of time. While you may think you’ll notice water damage or mold growth, the truth is most of us miss the early warning signs of water damage. Even after seeing signs you could have water damage, many people still wait to clean up or fix the damage.
Instead of waiting for catastrophic water damage, be proactive and look for early warning signs. Not only will this keep the cost of restoration down, but it will also prevent water from damaging your photographs, heirlooms, furniture, electronics, and other possessions.
5 Signs of Water Damage in Your Home
Preventing water damage starts with knowing what to look for. You should walk through your home every couple of months to look for signs you may have issues. If you see any of these things, get them fixed as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
Here are the 5 most common signs you could have water damage:
1. Changes to Flooring, Walls, or Ceilings
Although a change in your flooring, walls, or ceilings is one of the signs you could have water damage, most of us take the structural elements of our homes for granted. Sure, we may clean them, but how often do we actually really look at them? Even when we do look, we see them every day and might not really notice slow changes.
While water in walls and ceilings may be obvious sometimes, it can be easy to overlook the most common signs. The early warning signs of water damage are peeling or bubbling paint or wallpaper. Over time, they will become bloated or swollen and may even warp. In severe cases, walls and ceilings may feel spongy to the touch.
Wet flooring can go unnoticed too, especially if it’s only wet in the corners or in rooms that are used infrequently. By the time you notice a wet patch of carpeting or peeling tile, there could already be water damage to the sub-flooring.
Carpeting will feel wet to the touch or even spongy and soggy. Ceramic tile is likely to show signs of mold and the grout may crack. Vinyl and linoleum tile will begin to peel and crack when they are wet. Wood and laminate floors will begin to warp, cup, or buckle.
2. Visible Stains or Mold
Stains and mold are another potential sign of water damage. Stains often develop if there is a slow, consistent leak, while mold will appear if areas are consistently damp.
Most water stains are a yellowish-brown color and typically expand in irregular shapes from the source of the water leak. These types of stains are frequently found in basements, bathrooms, and laundry rooms as these areas generally see a lot of water usage or contain a lot of pipes.
They normally indicate the source of the leak is related to the use of a plumbing fixture. The water stains form as these areas go through a repeated cycle of getting wet, then drying, and then getting wet again.
Mold is a variety of airborne fungus that thrives when there is a persistent source of moisture. Carpeting, drywall, ceilings, wood, and many other materials in your home likely to harbor mold if they remain damp for an extended period of time.
While we often think of black mold, mold may appear blue, green, grey, or black. It often appears fuzzy and grows in thread-like structures. Mold may also grow out of sight, including under carpeting, in walls or ceilings, and behind bathroom tile.
Mold is most commonly found in kitchens, bathrooms, basements and anywhere excess moisture goes unnoticed. All molds pose some health risks, with symptoms similar to severe allergy attacks.
3. Musty Odors
Musty odors are another one of the common signs you could have water damage. The smell is often similar to wet newspaper or cardboard and is usually the strongest around the area where the water damage occurred.
The area may also feel damp or humid, depending on the temperature of the area, the cause of the water damage, and the season. If you notice a musty smell, take a few minutes to inspect the area. Look for other signs of water damage, like mold or stains.
Older homes typically have a variety of smells, especially in basements and attics, but sudden increases in odor or seasonal changes could be a sign. Newer homes are usually odor free, so a new odor may suggest the presence of water or mold.
Musty smells that develop shortly after heavy rainfall or a winter thaw are signs there could be issues with your foundation. If you have plumbing issues or notice other signs of water damage, keep track of changing smells.
4. High Utility Bills
A sudden increase in your water or sewage bill is another one of the signs of water damage. Review your bill and compare it to other recent bills. Take into consideration life events that may lead to an increase in water use.
Water usage typically increases over the holidays, went guests are staying over an extended period of time, and throughout the summer months. Minor fluctuations are common, but a sudden spike in usage that you can’t explain could mean there is an issue.
Check to see if your toilets are running frequently, make sure all faucets are off and not leaking, and look for leaks around appliances like dishwashers and washing machines. If you cannot identify a leak, there could be a pipe leaking somewhere in your walls. Check for other common signs you could have water damage.
5. Outdated Pipes and Plumbing Fixtures
Most pipes aren’t visible, so often take them for granted. Most pipes will last the lifetime of the home, but connections, faucets, and valves are likely to wear out over time.
Hot water tanks, furnaces, and air conditioning units all have a limited lifespan as well. Have your hot water heater, furnace, and air conditioning checked regularly to ensure they are in good working order.
Inspect all visible pipes, faucets, and valves to ensure they are not leaking. Since many of your pipes run through your walls, you may be able to identify a potential water issue by listening to them.
Listen to sounds of dripping water at night, when ambient noise is at its natural low. You should also turn off all electrical appliances too. The sound of water moving or dripping could be a sign there is a leak somewhere in the walls.
Look beneath your sinks and around toilets to ensure water supply and drain pipes are in good condition and not leaking. Make sure cabinets are not wet and there is no mold. Repair any damage promptly to prevent water damage in the future.
Also, inspect the caulk around your bathtub and sinks. Caulk is a quick, inexpensive fix that can prevent both water damage and mold. If your caulk is damaged or worn away, it’s possible water may already have gotten behind walls.
What To Do If You Spot Signs Of Water Damage
Unfortunately, many people wait until there is a serious issue before calling for help, even after identifying one or more of these signs. The majority of people are worried about the cost of repairs.
While we understand your concern, a catastrophic water issue will be much more expensive to repair than a minor leak. Not only can water damage the structure of your home, but it can also ruin heirlooms, antiques, and irreplaceable personal items. Depending on the exact issue, your insurance may even cover the cost of water damage restoration.
Restoration Local is the #1 network of restoration contractors. From independent restoration companies to major franchises like 911 Restoration and BELFOR Restoration, we make it easy to find a water damage restoration company near you. Choose a local water damage restoration company now.
If you need emergency water clean up, call 1-888-443-3110 to be connected with the on-call water damage company nearest you. Our on-call contractors offer 30-minute response time, 24-hour emergency services, and a free, no obligation estimate.