The funny thing about water is that it has the power to wash away the grime and nourish our bodies, but also the power to destroy our homes from the inside out. Water damage can at times be more costly than running your car through the living room wall, because of it’s uncanny ability to go unnoticed for a long time until it’s done sizable damage. The major problem with damage is not the water itself, but the mold, mildew, and fungus it can leave behind in hard-to-see places. Learning the tell-tale signs of water damage can prevent your home from getting infested by waterborne growths that can affect your health and the structural integrity of the house.
How do you know the extent of water damage in your home? Here are some things to keep an eye out for whether or not you’ve had a visible leak:
Foul odor – Usually one of the first signs of water damage that you will notice, a horrible smell in the house after major leakage can signify the presence of mold and mildew forming. You should have a professional inspect your home for any fungal buildup before it gets out of control and causes structural damage in addition to water damage.
Warped flooring – Even after you have dried the floor, it can become misshapen from being wet. Wooden flooring is particularly vulnerable to warping and puckering, but vinyl can curl up at the corners and carpet can breed mildew since it takes a while to dry. Typically, carpeting must be replaced after extensive water damage. Tiling and ceramic flooring is shielded more from water damage, but the underfloor insulation is vulnerable and must usually be replaced as well.
Stained walls and flooring – Brown or green stains that form on the walls, ceiling, and some flooring are indications of a leak, so checking any plumbing in the immediate area is paramount to stopping any further damage. If you seeing the stains inside your home, it’s very possible that mold and mildew have formed inside your wall spaces and are growing out. Having a professional check your wall spaces is advised since the spores can be hazardous to your bronchial health.
Blistered, puckered, and peeling walls – If bubbles and blisters are forming around your home, that means that moisture has built up in the drywall and is seeping through your walls. If you have wallpaper, the moisture can cause the adhesive to dissipate enough to let the wallpaper peel away from the wall.
Dark fuzzy growths – These are the most obvious signs of mold growth and are creating spores that are not healthy for you to breathe in. If you are seeing these outside on the wall surfaces, then you definitely have an infestation on your hands and need to call professionals to clean it out before it begins affecting the structural integrity of the home.
Wood rot – Similar to having your home eaten by termites, rot can eat away at your home’s framing. If left unchecked can lead to serious structural problems up to and including collapse of floors and walls, causing injury from falling through the floor.
Softened drywall and insulation – The inside of your walls are a moldy disaster waiting to happen when you’ve had flooding or leakage in the home. The insulation should be removed immediately and replaced before it becomes a breeding ground for mildew and mold. Wet insulation also loses its effectiveness, lowering its R-Value and eventually disintegrating.
Damaged studs and support walls – These should be some of the first things checked when you have had water damage because they are literally holding up the house. Studs and support walls cannot afford to become the victims of wood rot, mildew, mold, or any other side effect of water damage that cause structural weakness in the house.
When checking your home for water damage, you should:
Hire a professional to assess damage after major leakage – Even if you think you are able to inspect your home yourself, a professional definitely knows where to look for problems and will also have a larger array of tools for detection and repairs. Also, if mold is present, you will want to have a breathing filter device on to not breathe in the spores, and a professional inspector will have such a device.
Watch out for exposed or damaged wires – When inspecting your home for water damage, electrocution danger lurks inside your walls from wet insulation, soaked walls, and exposed wiring. Before looking around inside the wall space, make sure to shut the power off so your inspector doesn’t receive an accidental shock.
Water damage can definitely put a damper on things and a hole in your wallet if you are uninsured. If you are unsure if water damage is covered in your homeowner’s insurance, contact your provider to know for sure. Depending on the portion of your home that was affected by the water, the repair costs can climb into the thousands of dollars range quickly, so adding coverage to your plan can give you tremendous peace of mind should water enter your home in a bad way, especially if you live in an area that is prone to flooding and severe storms, sits below sea level, or has old piping.