Signs Of Water Damage In Walls (So You Can Detect It!)

Not much is scarier for homeowners than seeing signs of water damage in walls or ceilings. Freaking out is generally the first reaction, followed by panic.

Unfortunately, many homeowners glance over water damage signs. Why? Usually, it’s because they simply don’t see (or smell) them for what they are. And they certainly don’t think they are anything to be worried about.

Trust me, you should be worried if you notice any of these signs. And you’ll want to contact an emergency plumber immediately if you come across them.

What is Water Damage?

This one is easy. As it relates to homeowners, when any kind of material on a property is damaged by water, the result is water damage.

Sometimes, the damage is relatively minor and can be dealt with by the homeowner. But often, the source of the damage needs to be dealt with by an emergency plumber (to stop the source of the water causing issues) and a water damage restoration company (which handles cleanup, mold mitigation, and full restoration of the home and property).

signs of water damage in walls - baseboard warped bubbling
The baseboard is bubbling and warping due to the excess water leaking through the wall behind it.

How Does Water Damage Occur?

Water damage occurs for many different reasons, including these 5 common problems:

  1. Plumbing failures. These occur when pipes and joints loosen, split, or break open from wear and tear, corrosion, water pressure, accident, or freezing. They can also occur from clogs which create backups of clean water or wastewater.
  2. Construction failures. Water damage can be the result old or damaged roofing, cheap materials, a lack of structural integrity, cracks in the foundation, or too few or improperly installed gutters and downspouts.
  3. Improper grading. When the land near the foundation of a house is not properly graded, it can lead to numerous problems such as foundation leaks and flooding inside the house and on the property.
  4. Natural events. Severe weather creates lots of rain and flash flooding in a short period of time. This can stress drains and damage structures, causing them to become backed up or fail. Other types of natural events include river and stream flooding, tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes.
  5. Appliance failures. Flooding is often the result of failures in water-using appliances and fixtures such as water heaters, dishwashers, sump pumps, faucets, toilets, and washing machines. Overflowing toilets are the single most common cause of water damage, often ruining floors, nearby walls, and sink cabinets
leaking pipe - signs of water damage in walls
A leaking pipe behind your wall can cause tremendous amounts of water damage before it is detected. Notice the discoloration on the drywall from being wet. This will eventually soak the front of the wall. Look for signs such as wetness, discoloration, staining, or peeling.

7 Signs of Water Damage in Walls

  1. Wet spots or streaks. Wet spots can perceive as dark spots on a wall. They appear dark because the water in that area changes the color of your wall. Place your hand on any spots, streaks, or dark spots to confirm that the wall is wet.
  2. Warped materials. The other day, I noticed the corner floor board in my bathroom had warped a bit. I saw that it had discoloration too. The problem was a bathtub drain leaking behind the wall and finding its way to that corner.
  3. Soft or swollen drywall. Place your hand, palm down, against drywall and run it across your walls. You’ll quickly notice any wet or soft spots. You’ll also be able to see any areas of swelling. This is because the drywall has soaked up water and expanded.
  4. Stains or discoloration. Look for areas on the wall that seem discolored or a different shade than the rest of the wall. The difference can be subtle on solid colors like white or black. So, look carefully with good lighting. You can sometimes mistake shadows on the wall for water damage. Other times, those same shadows will camoflauge the water damage discoloration.
  5. Peeling, bubbling, or flaking paint or wallpaper. Look for paint or wallpaper that is peeling, cracking, bubbling, or flaking. This means water has saturated the wall underneath and into the actual paint and wallpaper.
  6. Mold, mildew, or musty odor. It’s hard to miss a damp, musty odor. It has a unique smell that we all seem to recognize. When the humidity is high, you can even feel it. Don’t ignore any of this. The smell could lead you to water damage and mold damage.
  7. Higher water bills. Compare every month’s water bill to the month before. If you haven’t changed any of your routines, but you have a noticeable increase in water useage, there’s a good chance you have a leak somewhere. This could be creating water damage inside the walls that you haven’t yet detected.
stained and discolored wallpaper signs of water damage in walls
Notice that dark stains? This discoloration on walls (whether on paint or wallpaper) is a potential sign of water damage. You should address this.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, water damage is incredibly expensive to repair. It can also be difficult to diagnose and locate the source of the problem. That’s why a professional “emergency plumber” should be your first call when you see signs of water damage in walls.

Your emergency plumber will find the source of leaking or flooding, stop it in its tracks and make repairs, and, finally, put you in contact with a reputable, reliable water damage restoration company to get your house back in order.

Call 1-Tom-Plumber

Overall, don’t hesitate to contact us here or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237) if you have water damage that might be causing foundation issues.

1-Tom-Plumber’s certified team of plumbers and drain technicians respond immediately to any emergency plumbing, drain cleaning, or water damage problem. We also handle the excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines. Our immediate-response team is available every day and night of the year, even on holidays.

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