How To Detect Water Damage Before It’s Too Late
There’s no doubt that becoming a homeowner is one of the most rewarding parts of the American Dream. But sometimes, owning and maintaining a home is more difficult than it’s made out to be. Dealing with water damage is more like a nightmare than a dream, especially if the water damage was hidden from plain sight for too long.
Fortunately, all you need to do is take one simple step to catch leaks and water damage before they turn your dream house into an expensive nightmare.
The one step to avoiding significant water damage? Be proactive.
Don’t wait for a leaky pipe to become an out-of-control monster. When you stay proactive about watching for signs of water leakage, you’ll be saving yourself from the headache (and a big chunk of money) that goes along with restoring your home after an uncaught water leak.
What are the most common signs of water damage?
Eager to catch water leaks early? Good for you. Here’s what you should be looking for:
- Wet Floors - While obvious, we want to make sure you remember that a house is not a waterpark. If there are pools of water on your floor, you should put your swim cap away and call an expert.
- Stains on Walls & Ceilings - Is the top right corner of your room looking a little too brown to be the same color as the paint you chose? If you are starting to see discolored rings of what looks like watercolor painting gone awry, there’s a chance there’s a leak in your ceiling or in your wall.
- Cracks in Walls - If you notice mysterious cracks in your walls where there was a flat surface before, that’s a sign you are dealing with a classic case of water damage. And, while moisturizer is often the answer to cracking skin, your wall will thank you for calling a water damage restoration company to do the heavy lifting.
- Bad Smell - Last time we checked, walls aren’t supposed to smell like that. If your wall smells like a damp towel that’s been left in a humid room for a week, there’s a good chance there’s something growing there, which is definitely not ideal.
- Soggy Carpet - If anything in your house is “soggy,” that’s probably not a good thing. When you walk on your carpet and it seems damp or humid, that’s a telltale sign you’re dealing with a water leak. - What’s worse than soggy cereal? Soggy carpet. Hands down. (Recommend Read: “5 Signs That Your Carpet Has Mold”)
Ready to become a master of early leak detection? This is your moment, you world-class homeowner!
Where should you check for water damage?
It’s almost impossible to prevent leaks altogether, but if you check in some of the most common places, you can significantly reduce the severity of any leak that tries to sneak up on you:
Water Leaks in Ceilings and Walls
Your ceilings and walls are a very common place to spot water damage, and all you need to do is uses your eyes. Just look around. Especially during storms or right after a winter freeze hits your area of the world. Remember, you’re looking for three things to detect water leaks on walls:
- Discoloration - Keep your eyes out for yellow, brown, dark, or any other variation from the original paint color of your walls to spot leaks in your ceilings and walls early.
- Texture Change - Sometimes, you can discover less obvious and newer leaks by moving your hand across your walls and feeling for any unnatural bubbles, or another warping in natural texture. And, of course, if your ceiling is peeling, it’s not because of a sunburn - it’s probably a leak.
- Water dripping down your walls - No explanation necessary.
When water gets into your walls, the outer layer of paint will start to bleed down the wall. If you notice anything that you believe may be water damage, run your hand over the spot. A leak will often make that part of the wall soft to the touch.
Water Leaks Underneath Sinks
It’s no surprise that sinks are a common source of water leaks. Whether it’s a plumbing problem or a crack in the bottom of the sink, you’re doing yourself a big favor by checking under your sinks at least a few times every month.
Of course, the biggest sign of sink-related leaks are pools of water rushing out and ruining your nice shoes when you open up the cabinet. If the leak is coming from a pressurized hose, there will likely also be spewing. In most cases, you can remedy the damage by simply taking everything out of the cabinet, laying down towels inside, and calling a restoration company to patch up the leak.
Sometimes, however, under-sink leaks can be small enough that the water doesn’t pool out onto the floor in front of the sink. Instead, the water evaporates at the same rate at which the water is dripping. This can go on for months if you aren’t proactive, causing irreversible damage to the cabinets and anything else under the sink.
Water Leaks In The Attic
What’s worse than a water leak in your walls? -- A water leak in your attic; and here’s why:
When water comes in through your attic, whether it be a result of roofing problems, an old water heater, cracked water supply lines, or any other source, the damage doesn’t stop when the water hits the floor of your attic. - Nope, that water is going to keep on keepin’ on. The water will make its way into your walls, onto the ceiling in the room below, and, eventually, make a new, soggy home in the carpet below that.
Here are a few tips to help you stay ahead of the game when it comes to keeping your attic leak-free (as it should be):
- Don’t let your water heater run longer than the recommended number of years, especially if your water heater has a large tank. An expired water heater is a 50-gallon hot mess (literally, a hot mess) waiting to happen.
- Check your water supply lines for cracks or misalignment regularly. If you spot spewing out of pinholes in the pipes or pooling around joints, put the duct tape down and hire a qualified professional to repair or replace the damaged pipes.
- Run your flashlight along the ceiling of your attic after a big storm to make sure no water is leaking in from outside. You can also identify a source of leakage by turning off the lights and checking for any sunlight coming in through the ceiling.
- Check the floor of your attic for water rings, just like the ones you’d see if you left a cold glass of water on a wood table for too long.
The feel of your hardwood floors is one of the first giveaways that you have water damage. If a leak has gotten itself into your baseboards, walking will become quite tricky, as the wood will become increasingly warped the longer that the water is present. If you notice that the center of each board in your flooring is sagging relative to the edges, you’ll need to look for professional help as soon as you can. Make sure to also check your floors for any stains, moldy or otherwise, as these are also signs of water damage.
Suggested Read: Worried you have Black Mold? Here’s what to look for.
Be Proactive About Water Damage
Now that we’ve talked about specific examples of water damage, it’s time to make an important point.
If you follow all of the recommendations we’ve made, you’re protecting yourself from the typical sources of slow and hidden leaks. But, it’s important to keep in mind that you will never be 100% protected from leaks. You are only human, and all you can do is your very best to protect your house.
It’s your job as a responsible homeowner to always look for unusual stains in walls, cracks in the sheetrock, warping baseboards, and any number of the other signs of water damage that we’ve already gone over.
Put recurring water damage and leak checkups on your calendar, because, by performing routine checks of your house, you’ll have a much more complete idea of what ‘normal’ looks like. That way, you can easily notice any potential leak events while the damage is still minimal. It’s much easier to replace a single floorboard than an entire wood floor.
Found this article a day too late?
If you’re already dealing with water damage, you are probably starting to understand the challenges that go along with restoration efforts.
If you have noticed any of these water damage signs in your home, here is what you should do:
- Identify the leak using the advice from this article.
- Move your possessions away from the leak to avoid further damage.
- Use towels to soak up excess water and, if necessary, place a bucket or a trashcan under the source of the leak to catch any actively leaking water.
- Call SERVPRO North Irving at 972-986-7677 and work with an expert to identify the steps you need to take to restore the affected area.
When you call a company that specializes in water restoration, you are setting yourself up to recover from the leak with as little stress as possible. These professionals can bring specialized devices like moisture meters to sense dampness levels in essentially any surface in your home: wood, stone, you name it. These sensors will help identify any further damage that may or may not be visible to the eye.
Once the damage has been identified by a water damage restoration professional, he or she will help you navigate the process of bringing the damaged surfaces and furniture back to life.
If you’re in Dallas and are looking for a water damage restoration company in the area, contact SERVPRO North Irving at 972-986-7677, day or night, and we’ll be here to guide you through the restoration process. We are here to help your house go back to being your dream home.