Identifying the common signs of water damage

Water can produce tremendous damage to your property in very little time. Knowing the early warning signs of what water damage looks like like can prevent a disaster of monumental proportion. Noticing an open window in your home after hearing of an approaching storm will naturally have you close it to protect your home from water damage. What if there were conspicuous early warning signs that you could be aware of that could be like closing a  window on water damage. The purpose of this post is to introduce several things to regularly look for that can spare you the nightmare of unexpected water damage.

Sometimes Water Damage Has No Detectable Warning sign.

Plumbing issues like a broken water supply line may have no early sign of compromise until it breaks. If water runs unrestrained for just an hour, your property will be devastated. Water will quickly migrate from the point of intrusion to multiple rooms in just minutes damaging everything in its path. Those who have returned home from vacation to be greeted by a pond of water in their living room know of the power and fury of water. It destroys flooring, dissolves dry wall, condensates on surfaces, can decimate a finished basement and produces harmful molds.

While the description above is what most would assume water damage looks like, it also can exist in stealth, revealing only small traces of its impending destructive intention. In these rare instances it remains undetected with no common signs to tattle on its unruly presence. No puddle on the floor, water stains in the ceiling and no mold found on surfaces.

Water damage from a broken pipe or drain backup usually has no early warning sign to herald its approach. They just immediately and unexpectedly show up like Cousin Eddie in Christmas Vacation. However, that does not identify all water damage scenarios that exist.

Hidden Water Damage is Hard to Identify

Home property inspectors are notorious for being inept and fumbling the ball when it comes to inspecting homes for water damage. Either they don’t know what to look for, miss the early warning signs or both. Not being equipped to know what water damage looks like is another folly that makes many inspectors useless. Arriving for a home inspection without possessing scientific moisture detection meters is a reason to ask them to leave.

Our professionals at Action Extraction are called upon regularly to evaluate properties homeowners just purchased. The reason is fear and suspicion about water damage, mold and is it causing a dangerous living environment for them and their family. They detect bad smells, see suspicious water stains and wonder if this is what water damage looks like.

What Water Damage Looks Like – Hidden Signs of its Presence

Don’t expect the evidences to be conspicuous, but knowing what to look for can be a flashlight to aluminate hidden dangers. Being proactive to immediately notice the early warning signs can keep your home safe and free from a catastrophic water damage nightmare. Additionally, treating each issue as it manifest will keep the cost of restoration and repairs down because you are taking preventative measures to stave off the damages incurred from water damage.

3 Signs You Could Have Water Damage & What to Do if You See Them

1. Visible Changes in Flooring, Walls, or Ceilings

The presence of water in a material will change how it looks over time.  If you notice a change in the appearance of your flooring, walls, or ceiling area this could be a sign of moisture or water.

Noticing early warning signs can save you from a disaster. Wet plaster will change in color but not necessarily show a water spot. Wet walls may only show a faint stain in the walls base molding. But these signs can be noticed when looked for. Any moisture found on carpet or any new staining on dry wall can be a sign of hidden water damage.

We at Action Extraction were called out to a unique incident in Shelby Michigan once. As we walked into the living room we observed ruin on a scale seldom seen in our industry. An entire plaster coved ceiling had completely detached from its perimeter, falling violently as one large slab onto the room below. The descent was substantial crushing all furnishings below. Tables were destroyed, windows were broken, glass was everywhere and a baby grand piano was crushed.

The inimitable sight required an explanation as the rest of the home was immaculate and there was no water to be found anywhere. The gentleman told me he installed a bathroom mirror in the 2nd floor bathroom about 2 weeks earlier. He mentioned as he struck a nail in the wall to secure the mirror he heard and felt the nail hit something hard he feared could have been a copper water pipe. He explained because he didn’t hear water running or see water stains below it must have been something else harmless.

Unfortunately that last strike of the hammer on the nail just penetrated an infinitesimal hole in a copper pipe that leaked so slowly the plaster ceiling gradually absorbed it. Over the next 2 weeks the spot increased in size till it eventually made the ceiling so heavy it fell. Fortunately no one occupied the room below when the incident occurred as a tragedy of monumental proportion could have ensued.

During the course of the restoration the homeowner did elaborate that he noticed a shadowing of the ceiling and it just wasn’t looking right but assumed the lighting was the reason. Water damage however was the reason and the early warning signs as faint as they were did manifest. It pays to know what to look for.

2. Visible Stains or Mold

Most potential signs of water damage will begin as a new stain or conspicuous mold growth. The stains are generally conspicuous and result from slow and/or intermittent leaks. These water stains are typically yellowish-brown and gradually expand over time. When noticed the use of a moisture meter will confirm if what you have found is water’s presence and the source of water should be determined with a bit of common sense. In some cases it may take a professional restoration company to locate the reason for the damage and where it is coming from.

Water stains could be what water damage looks likeMold appears on surfaces that are exposed regularly to moisture. These commonly are damp areas that receive no regular UV lighting and minimal air circulation. Frequently found in basements, bathrooms, laundry areas and near plumbing, will grow frighteningly fast in most cases.

When mold is found in a bathroom the sources are usually plumbing related to the sink, tub or toilet. Inspecting these fixtures while the water is running often clearly identifies the culprit. In some scenarios the offender exists in secrecy as in a leaky toilet flange or leaky p-trap. A careful evaluation will almost always uncover the mystery.

Because mold is an invisible spore with a variety recognized as harmful it is best to get an evaluation from a mold mitigation contractor. Some in haste have removed dry wall and opened up enclosed cavities allowing swarms of invisible mold to migrate throughout their property. It is best to allow the experts to facilitate the next orderly steps forward to secure the safety of all occupants.

The professionals at Action Extraction regularly provide free inspections when mold is found. We can locate and diagnose the reason why it is present as well as create the appropriate solution. In some cases it will be necessary to have several test of air sampling to identify the type and amount of mold present.

If the results indicate high concentrations of airborne fungi any subsequent mitigation must be done under controlled conditions to keep molds from spreading. The protocol for cleanup will be predicated on the results of the testing and will include attention to carpeting, drywall, ceilings, and many other surfaces. Due to airborne molds migrating freely all surfaces have likely become a safe haven for mold to bond to, making them necessary to clean.

Professional mold mitigation will drastically change the environment of the home allowing for almost instant cessation of symptoms related to allergies. Once mitigation services are complete a final air sample test will confirm if the cleaning was successful.

3. Musty Odors

The sense of smell is an interesting ability and can alert us to hidden dangers of what water damage looks like. The smell of natural gas and smoke has identified to many a hidden danger, prompting necessary actions to avoid an inevitable disaster. Mold too will off gas a traces of offensive odors that can alert us to the presence of mold in the home. Musty smells can equally be an indication of mold growing in an inconspicuous area needing attention.

New foreign smells that are not commonly noticed should motivate a search for the possibility of mold. Look in the basement after a heavy downpour, around all plumbing fixtures and all water using appliances. Take a flashlight to reveal the darker areas of the home as mold like a home invader is fond of the dark.

If you find plumbing issues or notice other signs of water damage you may have tracked down the issue and can take preemptive actions to keep mold at bay. It may be as simple as treating and area with an anti-microbial agent to eliminate germs and smells. Or it may be an issue requiring a bit more attention that removes the foul odors from your property. In either case the sense of smell plays a role in combating water damage and mold in the home.

If you need help from an expert water restoration firm than learn the 6 steps to find the best water cleanup company. Calling the professionals at Action Extraction will prove to be the best choice as we will provide a free inspection of your property allowing for hidden water damage to be found. Call today (586) 949-4448