Most people think that damage from water leaks is easily detectable and can be spotted very quickly in the home or the workplace. In truth however, most water damage leaks start slowly, and water damage is very often hidden or only partially visible because water pipes are situated behind walls, under floorboards, and sometimes even set in the concrete of your foundation. Often this means that by the time you can see signs of water damage in your floors, walls, or ceilings, there is significant damage that is hidden inside walls, or under floors or in attic spaces. There are three basic means for identifying water damage in the home. The most common is visual inspections. Building materials will always show signs of water damage. They will swell, warp, or discolor. If you see flooring that is warping, or baseboards or cabinetry that is swelling or splitting apart, or if you see drywall or tile floors discoloring in specific areas, there is a high likelihood that this is damage due to water. Second, hidden water damage often produces a “musty” odor.
This odor is actually directly related to the growth of microbial bacteria or fungi, commonly lumped into the phrase “mold growth.” If you notice an unusual smell each time you walk into a room, or through a doorway, it could be originating from an unnoticed water leak in that area. Third, if building materials have been exposed to long term moisture that is hidden from view, they will often begin to rot, which in turn will cause these material to become soft or spongy. This would most commonly be found in the structural subfloor under your carpet, or vinyl, or hardwood. If you begin to notice that a portion of your floor seems to sink or flex when you step on it, and the flooring around it does not, it may be due to long term water damage, and should be investigated further.
Signs of water damage
The signs of water damage can be obvious or very difficult to spot, depending on the location of the water leak and what type of material the leak is affecting. For instance, a water leak from the roof that is coming through the ceiling of the home will often be very easy to spot, because it will result in a discolored ceiling, sagging drywall, or bubbling paint.
When leaks affect walls, the signs could include baseboards or other finish carpentry materials swelling or separating from the walls. Paint will sometimes peel away from the finish carpentry or the drywall around it.
When water damage affects floors, damage can include expansion, sagging, buckling, or warping of the flooring materials that are exposed to the water. Often hardwood floors are the easiest to identify water damage, due to the warping of the floor boards as they soak up moisture. Warping is often caused by significant changes in temperature or humidity, which causes the boards to curl or cup, creating ridges at the joints that would otherwise look and feel perfectly flat.
If a floor is impacted by leaking water for a long period of time, the structural decking below the finished floor can deteriorate and begin to lose its structural integrity. Often this is referred to as dry rot, but is a symptom of long term water damage, in which mold or fungal spores colonize in the wet material and destroy it over time. Areas affected by dry rot will then feel spongy or soft when compared to areas that are not affected by long term water damage. If water seeps into the sub-flooring, sagging, or softening of the materials becomes a distinct possibility.
Another possible sign of water damage is an odor that’s detectable in the immediate area surrounding the water leak. The odors themselves will come from mold and mildew, and they are most commonly detected in walls, basements, under cabinetry and other areas where the water has been allowed to accumulate undetected, and little or no air movement exists.
Often, of water damage is not dealt with promptly, mold or fungal growth will become visible. The visible growth is very minor initially, and is spotty in nature. It is often a black, green or blue color, and is evident in the area where the water damage is discovered. This growth is typically similar to iceberg, meaning there is usually more growth under the surface than you can see. To properly eliminate the mold growth the materials often have to be cut out and replaced, with additional chemical treatments used to eliminate any hidden growth inside wall cavities, on structural framing materials, under cabinets, etc.
When you detect water leakage
If you should come across water leakage in your home or workplace, or if you even suspect that water damage has occurred, you should immediately contact a water damage specialist such as Restoration Pro. You may have difficulty locating the source of the water damage yourself, but a professional will have no difficulty pinpointing the source of the issue.
One very important thing to remember when you suspect water damage is not to take any steps toward recovery, other than soaking up any water pools which you have discovered. You’re always much better off to leave recovery efforts to well-trained and knowledgeable professionals like those at Restoration Pro.
Do you have water damage in your home or business place?
If your home or workplace has suffered some kind of water damage, our Restoration Pro specialists can accurately identify the extent of the damage and make recommendations on the kind of recovery work which should be undertaken. We’ll be glad to provide you with a free estimate on the cost of materials and labor involved in the restoration, so that you’ll be able to make an informed decision about how to proceed. Contact us today at Restoration Pro, so we can begin the process of helping your home or workplace recover from whatever kind of water damage you have experienced.