Water is an incredibly powerful source of corrosion. Over time, even a small leak can lead to major problems. With pipes generally hidden behind walls and beneath floors, it’s not always obvious you have a problem until it’s too late. Here are some tips and warning signs to keep in mind to stop water before it becomes a major issue.
First, one of the most obvious subtle symptoms of a leak can be seen in your walls and ceilings. With even a small influx of water, you may see stains that form in new areas or grow overtime. You may also notice swollen walls, bowing baseboards or trim work, or peeling wallpaper. These indications could be signs that your drywall is getting saturated and causing these deformations. Consider the location where you find these symptoms, and try to isolate where the water may be coming from. If on the top floor of your home, you could have roof problems, while if these signs appear near a bathroom or kitchen, the plumbing leading to or from your fixtures could be at fault.
Even if you don’t see a leak, sometimes you may smell one. Small, trickling leaks can occur behind walls and slowly, over time, create a damp environment where mildew, mold and other fungi can grow. This smell can permeate from the walls where growth is occurring, even if there are no outward signs of problems in a room. Left unchecked, this growth can worsen, possibly even leading to health problems.
You may also be able to see visible signs of water leaks coming from your roof by taking a look in your attic. As your roof ages and wears through winter after winter, leaks become an increasingly likely problem. Signs in your attic can include sagging or fallen insulation, interior ice formation during the winter and mold growth. Also, just as with ceilings within your home, you may see signs of stains around the roof, particularly near vents, chimneys or where the walls meet the roof.
Lastly, you may see warning signs outside your home. Standing or puddled water around your foundation can be an indication that your home’s drainage may be leaving you vulnerable. As the water soaks into the ground, it may flow past the underlying foundation of your home and potentially seep into your basement through those support walls. Over time, this can lead to mold growth, weakening of the structures and even shifting of your foundation in an extreme case. Check gutter spouts and direct them away from the foundation whenever possible, and check the elevation of your lawn as you approach the house. You should have a gentle slope away from your home to encourage runoff and protect you from future problems.
Keeping a vigilant watch and regularly checking your home for signs of water damage can help you protect your investment and identify problems at the first appearance of symptoms. Finding and fixing problems early helps to prevent small leaks from growing into large repairs, and will ensure the good condition of your property for years to come.