Flooding or broken pipes can cause unseen water damage. If you are purchasing a house, you’d hope that the owner would disclose any recent water problems that could cause damage. However, noticing small indications of water damage can help you determine the extent of the problem and if you’ll need a specialist in addition to a regular home inspector to determine the damage.
Mold and Mildew
The biggest tip off for water damage is mold and mildew damage. You may not be able to spot the damage if it is slight, but you should be able to smell it. Musty odors may indicate a larger problem that must be addressed. If you want to look for evidence, check around baseboards and on light colored walls for visual indications of mold growth. While some mold and mildew can be cleaned up, if the damage is extensive it can be almost impossible to eliminate and can make the inhabitants of a home ill.
Rotted window sills, peeling paint, and crumbling drywall can all be indicators of previous water damage. In order to verify the cause of these problems, it is best to open up the wall area and look for mold and other signs of water damage. To check for water damage, you should wear a face mask and gloves. Open up the drywall with a saw, removing a large enough section to look for damage. Then use a flashlight to look for mold. Tap the interior studs with a hammer to check for softness, which would indicate that the wood has rotted due to water damage.
Hidden Water Damage
Some water damage will remain hidden, even with careful visual observation but you’ll suspect a small leak in the pipes that could cause a problem. If you suspect a leak, which will cause water damage- and possibly flooding, you should call in a professional with thermal imaging experience. Someone specialized in detecting water damage will be able to take pictures of possible leaks in the wall and be able to locate the exact spot of the leak for repair.