5 Signs of Water Damage in Your Home

by Michael Franco
ceiling damage

Water damage. Those two words alone are enough to send chills down the spine of any homeowner. For good reason, too: Water has the potential to not only cause cosmetic damage, but it can quickly lead to structural damage as well. What's more, water damage isn’t always caused by massive floods and disastrous storms. Truth is, water damage is more commonly caused by little things like slow, dripping leaks, clogged gutters or water drainage issues.

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You can’t prevent every instance of unwelcome water in your home, but you can inform yourself so that you know when and where to look to spot the early signs of water damage before widespread structural damage occurs. Here are five telltale signs of water damage in your home.

1. Stains on Walls and Ceilings

One of the most obvious signs of water damage in your home is stains on your walls or ceilings. Generally speaking, these stains, which often appear as light brown or beige discolorations, mean that you’ve got a leak somewhere — either from your roof or from a plumbing leak behind the drywall. Water seeps into the ceiling and evaporates, leaving a stain caused by the minerals it contains behind. Simply painting over the stain isn’t going to help matters, unfortunately. Instead, you’ll want to do everything you can to identify the source of the leak and get it repaired immediately.

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2. Peeling Paint and Wallpaper

Another common indication of water damage in your home is peeling paint or wallpaper. Drywall isn’t waterproof, and when it’s exposed to excess moisture, the moisture will try to escape through its surface, causing wallpaper or paint to bubble and peel. Just like ceiling and wall stains, this indicates you have an active leak somewhere behind the drywall. That said, if your paint or wallpaper is peeling, it typically means that the leak is fairly extensive or has been occurring for quite a while. When this happens, you’ll want to not only repair the affected areas, but you’ll also need to repair the active leak as soon as possible.

3. Warped Floorboards

If you notice your hardwood floors beginning to warp or curl in shape, they most likely have experienced damage related to moisture. When wood planks absorb water, they expand and soften, causing them to push up against other planks. As they dry, the wood will appear disfigured. Like any other sign of water damage, it’s important to first determine the cause of the leak before beginning any repairs. Once determined, you’ll need to assess the moisture content of the wood and dry the floor as completely as possible. For smaller areas, you can run a fan or dehumidifier near the affected floor. Larger, more widespread areas may require the help of a professional restoration service. If left alone, it can take up to two months for the floor to dry out completely. During that time, the floor will continue to expand and swell, adding to the overall damage.

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4. Mold and Mildew Growth

Mold and mildew growth is another clear sign that you could have water damage in your home. Depending on the severity, they can appear in any number of forms, like black splotches on your walls to fuzzy patches on your floorboards. What’s more, you can typically smell the damp, musty presence of mildew and mold in a room. Left unchecked, mold can not only cause allergies to ramp up, but it can also lead to more serious health issues. Additionally, mold will continue to grow, eventually causing longer-lasting damage like rot. The presence of mold by itself doesn’t always indicate an active leak, but it does point toward moisture issues in your home. If you spot mold or mildew growth, it’s imperative that you both clean the affected area and solve the root cause of the moisture issue.

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5. Sudden Increase in Your Water Bill

It might seem obvious, but a sudden jump in your water bill is a likely sign that you have a leak occurring somewhere in your plumbing system. Truth is, even if you notice a gradual increase over time, you could still be dealing with a leak. If you suspect a leak, it’s crucial to contact a plumber immediately to help determine what’s happening. Caught early, you can save yourself the headache of dealing with water damage later.

Act Early

If you ever hear the sounds of water running or dripping when your water isn’t in use, you’ll want to call in a plumber as soon as possible. When it comes to water damage, the quicker you can act, the better. Left unchecked, water can do widespread damage in a home. By acting early, you can save yourself time and money in the long run.

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