When you purchase or rent a home, there are many useful skills that can make the experience easier, more comfortable and they can save you money. This is especially true when it comes to identifying the presence of water damage. When the home is damaged by water from a leak, flood, fire or other sources, it can cause structural problems. Another risk is the growth of toxic mold, which is unhealthy to breathe and a known trigger for people with allergies and pre-existing breathing conditions. These problems can be expensive to fix and the longer they are ignored the more extensive the repair bill. In this article, we will take a look at seven common signs of residential water damage and how you should deal with these problems.
1. Look at the Exterior of the Home
Some of the more common signs of water damage to your home can be observed on the exterior of the structure. Once you know what to look for it’s easy to go outside and take a closer look to ensure that your home is in good shape. First, take a look at the highest point of your home and the slope of the ground in relation to that point. If the ground slopes away from the structure, it will be better able to resist water damage to the foundations. During heavy rainfall, the water will simply flow away from the home down the slope. If your home is on flat ground or at the bottom of a slope, you may want to contact your local plumber and ask about extra protection from flooding.
2. The Roof, Gutters, and Downspouts
Continuing your look around the home, it’s now time to look at the gutters and downspouts that move the water away from the roof and walls. These need to be firmly attached to your home, they should be clear and in good shape. If they are clogged, cracked, or broken, they can lead to water damage to the foundations. The roof needs to be in good shape too, because missing or damaged shingles can lead to water entering your attic space. This will cause water damage to your ceilings on the upper floor of your property. Cleaning and fixing any damage to the roof, gutters, flashings and downspouts should be a priority.
3. Door and Window Frames
Another entry point for water are the door and window frames. Look for signs of separation because any gaps are a water damage risk and they are points where you lose heated or cooled air. Check for soft spots on attached surfaces that may indicate an existing water leak that needs an urgent repair. Bear in mind that a tiny separation can cause an increase in humidity that can cause mold growth. As an added bonus, if you seal these gaps your energy efficiency will improve.
4. Look at the Interior of the Home
Move through the interior of your home and look for water rings on the walls or ceilings. These are usually caused by a water leak from a nearby plumbing pipe and they are very noticeable if you’re paying attention. There may be smaller water stains in the same locations which could be water dripping from a leaking pipe or other sources. It may be possible to hear a water leak, but this usually occurs at night when the home is quieter.
5. Compromised Floor Surfaces
If water has soaked into a floor, it typically causes surface damage and sagging or softer spots around the source of the water leak. This is especially true around at risk areas, including sinks, tubs, shower stalls, toilets, the water heater, dishwashers, and the washing machine. On the surface, you may notice warped or cracked tiles, wood, or laminate flooring. This is caused by cracking, splitting, and warping that occurs when these materials are exposed to significant volumes of water. In extreme cases, the floors may even feel wet to the touch and you may notice that nearby plumbing fixtures such as the toilet rock in-place. Prioritizing a plumbing repair is important because this damage only becomes worse and more expensive to fix as time passes. A local professional plumber can identify the source of the leak and fix it to prevent further water damage. Once the underlying problem is fixed you can go ahead and carry out the other repairs.
6. The Hot Water Heater
If your water heater has signs of rust, it may indicate a water leak and there may be standing water under the unit. Another consideration is a musty or mildew odor that can indicate water damage that has led to the growth of mold. In most cases, it’s less expensive to replace the water heater with a more up to date energy efficient model. But, before this takes place some mold remediation may be needed to thoroughly clean the area.
7. The Attic and Basement
We often neglect these areas because we don’t spend much time there, but they are prime locations for water damage issues. As we mentioned earlier, damage to the roof or standing snow can result in water entering the attic. The usual places to find water damage are around the roof vents, the walls, and the chimney. While you are there, check the insulation, it should be dry and there should be no visible signs or smells of mold growth. In the basement, the main sources of concern are flood damage, a foundation leak, or water leaking from your water heater. A burst pipe or heavy storm can lead to a flooded basement that requires an urgent repair to prevent further damage. It’s a great idea to check the connections of your appliances to ensure that they are not releasing water. If your home is at risk from flooding, contact your local professional plumber and ask about a sump pump for extra protection.
If you want to schedule a health check for your plumbing system, contact your local licensed and certified plumber today.