How to Detect Water Damage

Your properties should always be in excellent condition. Buildings, including houses, need regular checking and inspection. Defects can pose a major risk to your property’s safety. Ultimately, they can be a source of accidents which can happen anytime. It is, therefore, critical to watch out for signs that something may be amiss, including water damage.

‘Water damage’ encompasses the large amount of damage done due to the intrusion of water to your property. It is defined as the damage done by water to material or systems. It can happen any time and can result in more complex problems, leaving you unsure of where to turn to repair the damage. One of the reasons that water can be so destructive is that leaks can go undetected and hidden damage can be done over time. However, as frightening as water damage may seem, there are many ways to detect the early signs of water damage.

Common signs of water damage in buildings

Here are some common signs you could have water damage:

How to Detect Water Damage - Water Damage

Changes in structural elements

Structural elements include your floors, your walls, and your ceiling. Even though they look good on the outside, sometimes, what you see on the surface is just the tip of the iceberg, and that it worsens as you delve deeper inside. Water can get anywhere! It may travel from the ceiling to the floor. It can get in the walls and even in the insulation and structural boards.

The early signs of water damage are changes in texture of these elements, these include bubbles in paint and peeling wallpaper. The materials warp and become engorged. It causes the surfaces to bloat with water, softening and cracking it beneath their own weight. Other signs include the sponge-like feeling when you poke it.

You can also see signs of water damage on the floor. If it is frequently damp, especially in the corners of the building, it may be because there is water seeping in under the floor and resulting in water damage. The regular peeling of vinyl and linoleum tiles is a common sign. Ceramic tiles that show signs of cracks and moulds are also an indication of water damage. You should also note the frequent appearance of wet patches on the carpet (damp carpet).

How to Detect Water Damage - Water Damage

Changes in visual appearance

Changes in visual appearance are the most common sign you will see. They are often obvious and straightforward to spot. Water stains and mould will develop if there is a constant leak in the area causing it to be damp and moist.

These stains are usually yellow to brown in colour, expanding to different shapes and sizes. They appear brownish in colour due to the reaction of water to the surfactant that helps bind the paint. Water causes the brown surfactant to become reactive which then produces the colour.

These stains are usually found in areas where there is a constant use of water. These areas include the laundry room, the bathroom, and the kitchen. Faulty pipes in these areas may cause the slow, consistent, and repeating cycles of leaks.

Mould is a fungus that requires moisture to grow. Damp areas are mould’s favourite place and they will form exponentially. They may appear on carpets, drywall, and ceilings. They come in different forms and colours. They may look dendritic or tree-like in shape. The most common are circular fuzzy thread-like shapes. They may appear blue, grey, green, and, the most common colour of moisture mould, black. Mould can grow out of sight including under tiles and carpets.

These moulds have microscopic airborne propagative spores which can be hazardous to people, especially when inhaled by someone with allergies. They can cause respiratory complications which in some cases can be fatal.

How to Detect Water Damage - Water Damage

Changes in smell

One way to find out if you have potential water damage is through smell. Bad odours often equate to water damage. This can be the effect of mould or mildew as they produce musty odours. The smell is often compared to that of old newspapers or cardboard. The odour strengthens as you get closer to the main source of water damage.

These areas are usually damp and humid like the basement or the attic. It is possible that the area has little air circulation. These odours typically develop after the rainy or winter season.

How to Detect Water Damage - Water Damage

Changes in sound

You can check faulty pipes, faucets, and valves through the sound they make while you are running your water. Listening to the sound of dripping water is a way to detect any source of water damage. You can check the sound if there is something out of the ordinary. Dripping sounds mean there is a leak somewhere and must be given attention as soon as possible.

How to Detect Water Damage - Water Damage

Formation of rust

Water oxidises the majority of metals used for piping. As it oxidises the metal, it forms the reddish orange substance iron oxide or rust. This process is known as corrosion. It’s the gradual breakdown of metal by chemical reaction with the environment. The most common forms of corrosion happen with metal and water combine.

If you spot rust on the pipes or metals near it, it means that there is a site for moisture and hence the presence of water damage. Humidity can also coat these pipes with rust.

Most pipes, however, are not visible. So, it is important to inspect all pipes regularly to avoid water damage. Check the pipes beneath the sink, the faucets, and the caulk. Caulk is the materials used to seal joints against leakages in pipes.

How to Detect Water Damage - Water Damage

Increase in water bill

A sudden increase in your water bill may be the result of a leak, causing water damage somewhere on your property. An abrupt spike in the water bill, without you or your tenants doing anything out of the ordinary, is related to the use of more water that could come from leaking pipes. Check for the source. It may be the frequent running of a faulty toilet or leaky pipes on your property.

Contact your trusted Newcastle building inspector

It is vital to have your properties checked by professionals. Thorough and regular inspections are key. You can contact Exceptional Building Inspections (EBI) to professionally identify, assess, and monitor potentially problematic areas of your properties to limit and control the damage. Contact them today to identify and resolve your building concerns. Email at or call at 02 4950 4197 and 0412 188 199.