Water damage can be catastrophic if left unchecked. While you may think you're aware enough to catch a dripping corner or mold growth, the truth is, many of us miss the early warning signs.
Don't get surprised by water damage! Keep your eyes peeled for these early warning signs and address them immediately if you spot something wrong. Not only will this help keep the cost of restoration down, it will help prevent water from accidentally harming your possessions.
5 Signs You Could Have Water Damage
Preventing serious water damage begins with knowing what it looks like. Here are a few ways early water damage tends to present itself in the home.
1. Changes to ceilings, walls and flooring
It's easy to take the structural elements of your home for granted. But if you find yourself thinking, "Has that hardwood always looked like that?" you could be looking at water damage.
Pay attention to the condition of your home. Is the paint or wallpaper on your wall bubbling or sagging? Does it feel spongy when you touch it? Is a particular patch of carpet damp? Might tile or linoleum be peeling up from the floor? Trust your gut. If something feels or looks wrong, it probably is.
2. Visible yellow-brown stains
Discoloration on walls or floors is one of the most obvious signs of water damage. These usually show up after a slow, consistent leak makes its way to the surface and are likely to appear if the area stays damp for a long time.
Water stains are usually yellow-brown in nature and will have an irregular shape, like water. You are most likely to come across them in basements, bathrooms or laundry rooms that move a lot of water through complex plumbing systems.
3. Patches of mold
Mold almost always accompanies water damage. It may appear blue, green, black or grey, and may appear fuzzy or thread-like. It tends to grow in shadowed corners where there is a persistent source of moisture, under carpets, in walls and behind tile.
Check for mold in kitchens and bathrooms frequently, wherever excess moisture might go unnoticed. And remember: mold can pose a serious health risk, particularly for those with allergies or certain health conditions!
4. A spike in utility bills
A sudden increase in your water bill may be the clearest sign of all that you have a water problem. Compare your bill to past bills, month after month. You'll be able to catch big problems quickly this way.
Additionally, check for leaks around appliances like washing machines and dishwashers and listen for running water. Do you hear dripping? Hissing? Sounds of water running when appliances are not in use could mean you're losing water somewhere out of sight.
5. Musty odors
Starting to smell wet dog? It could be your nose telling you it's spotted water damage. Musty odors (sort of like damp cardboard) often show up where water damage is the worst, so don't ignore them!
Musty odors that show up shortly after a heavy rain or winter thaw in springtime may be a sign that you have issues with your foundation. Consider having professionals examine your crawl space and look into insulating it. Crawl space insulation is designed to prevent water damage, capture mold spores and prevent airborne allergens from entering your home.
What to Do if You Discover Signs of Water Damage
As soon as you spot water damage, call for help. A catastrophic water issue will be much harder (and more expensive) to fix than a small leak, so get on the phone with an experienced contractor in your area right away!
Look to your contractor to help you assess the situation, provide an estimate of repairs and help define the areas you need to address. Once you have restorations scheduled, get in touch with your homeowner's insurance provider to discuss coverage for water damage restoration.
Remember: the longer you wait, the greater your risk of damage! Think you have water damage? Go with your gut. Better safe than sorry.