Have you got a leaking upstairs toilet? Has a pipe on the top floor got a slow leak? Do you have a suspected roof leak? How can you tell if a ceiling has water damage? The first place you’ll likely spot the leak is in the ceiling. Look for brown or yellow dark spots or waterspot stains on the ceiling paintwork even if you see no leak, this ceiling discoloration can be large or small wet spots on the ceiling. The ceiling may even begin to sag or sink due to the sheer weight of water above. These are ceiling moisture spots and is an extreme sign of water damage – and may occur due to a slow leak or a burst pipe causing a sudden outpouring of water.
In contrast, if water is leaking cryptically from an unseen source, one of the earliest signs might be a condensation stain on the ceiling. These occur as the water evaporates, increasing the room’s humidity before condensing on the ceiling. There it dries, gradually forming dark wet-looking but dry spots of brown or yellow water mark stains on the ceiling.
There can also be cases where some good quality paint does not show any fresh water stain on a ceiling, or an old house was newly fixed and sold on the market where the sellers simply painted over the stains. In this case you may see the paint form a water bubble on the ceiling. It is better to catch this as early as possible, but in the early stages, the bubbles could be small and harder to see on textured ceilings until the bubble is large enough to stand out from the texture.
Finally, mold can also begin to grow – often in the corners of rooms. Mold grows either because there is water present above the ceiling or a cryptic leak increases the room’s humidity, leading to dampness. Mold often occurs in the same location as water condensation stains on the ceiling. When mold growth happens, the problem is no longer only water damage, but you also need to handle mold removal and remediation.
Condensation ceiling stains often mean a serious water damage problem already exist behind the ceiling.
Like ceilings, moisture in drywall will lead to dark spots and water stains on the wall. These spots aren’t just caused by moisture in drywall. They’re also the result of the water evaporating, leaving behind a residue of minerals and salt that cause this unpleasant discoloration of paint on walls. Spotting stain, rust, or water mark on the wall is an early indicator of water damage.
If a wall has no stains but wondering what causes damp patches on walls especially in areas of the house with no faucets, sinks, toilets, tubs, or showers, should be something of concern and be investigated immediately even before you start seeing stains and paint peeling. If you delay the fix of this condensation inside your walls, it can lead to more severe water damage.
Moist walls not given attention, over time paint or wallpaper may begin to peel, crack, flake or even bubble as the moisture in the drywall degrades its structure. Indeed, such signs often occur from water in the crawlspace after heavy rain. The water builds up, causing drywall water damage in the adjacent structures.
Paint flaking or peeling on a drywall, like ceiling stains can also be caused by a leaking water supply pipe or drain going to, or coming from a bathroom, laundry room, kitchen, or outdoor garden faucets.
Over time, mold will begin to grow where the moisture is soaking through. You may also notice a musty or damp smell near the afflicted area. This smell is particularly important, as the drywall damage may be hidden behind furniture or appliances. Mold can cause several health problems that you would want to avoid.
Of course, one of the most common places you’ll spot water damage isn’t moisture in drywall or condensation stains on the ceiling, but down on the ground.
Yes, pooling water is one of the most obvious signs of water damage. It even gives you a clear indicator of the source, be it a washing machine, toilet, or a faulty valve in your kitchen sink. Sometimes, you’ll spot water trickling down the wall, forming a pool at the bottom.
However, all too often, water damage isn’t as simple as spotting water pooling. In most cases, you need to look for more subtle signs in the flooring itself.
One possible indication of water damage from the floor is water stains on the baseboard but the rest of the wall has no stains, no moisture and remains dry. Since the water stain started at the bottom, where the baseboard is, this could be a sign the water is coming from the floor.
Rug or carpet water damage most often appears as discoloration. Obviously, a dark patch will appear damp to the touch caused by prolonged moisture under a carpet. As the water comes in contact with the carpet or rug, the damp patch will spread outwards from the source – so you can trace it back to find where the water is coming from.
You may also notice a musty smell from the rug or carpet water damage – even mold can occur, though this is a later sign.
Hardwood won’t soak up the water like carpet. Water under the floorboard is likely to pool on top or seep through. However, constant water under hardwood floors will have some water absorbed by the hardwood over time, potentially causing warping or expansion of the planks.
Black spots on hardwood floors could be mold that appears where there is a water leak. However, it can also be caused by spilled food, dirty footwear, pet vomit, urine, and poop where it was not cleaned thoroughly, leaving some moisture and organic material causing mold growth.
Tiles are designed to be waterproof. However, prolonged water exposure can weaken the underlying mortar, loosening the tile from the floor. Mildew and mold growth are also common.
Signs of water damage under tiles are often found on tile floors that constantly get wet, like where bathroom showers or tubs are located. Cracks in tiles or gaps in tile grout that let water pass through could accumulate underneath and dampness can be observed on the floors, and walls of adjacent rooms and in some cases on ceilings where the bathroom is on an upper floor above the ceiling.
Concrete slabs are also waterproof. But holes and cracks can form from prolonged water exposure. You’re most likely to notice damage due to freezing and thawing creating abrasions and crevices in the concrete over time.
Under the house is one place you probably don’t think to look. Water in the crawlspace after heavy rain is one of the commonest causes. Don’t just look for pools of water, however. Damage to the foundations is the most important factor – look for moisture in the crawl space under the house already causing rot and mold.
Missing shingles or overflowing guttering are the surest sign that water is getting into your roof. If water is getting in, you may notice curling or buckling shingles, mold in the attic, loose or rusted flashing, and missing granules (the loss of a lot of granules in a short amount of time).
Roof shingles begin to curl at the edges after excessive contact with water. It’s the most obvious sign water is pooling underneath.
Dripping sounds happen in many houses when water is used, but when they sound like they are coming from unusual places, is telling that there could be a possible leak. If the dripping sounds tend to come from behind a ceiling, inside a wall, in a room with no faucet, inside a closet or in any place unexpected could be due to a water leak somewhere near a broken pipe.
Sometimes there are no outward signs of water damage. But, if you noticed a sudden and unexpected spike in your water bill, it might be the earliest warning you get of a leak. You’ll want to give the house a thorough inspection. Otherwise, hire a professional who has the equipment to detect moisture.
Trust us – you don’t want to ignore this sign. It might just save you a small fortune.
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