Water damage is expensive to repair, often because it goes unnoticed until things get really bad. Learn five ways to tell if your home has a water leak, so you can repair water damage and reduce the costs to your wallet and your home.
1. There’s a bad smell
While the bathroom may smell after someone’s used to it, there should not be a lingering bad odor. If the bathroom smells sour, musty, or generally unpleasant, you could have a hidden leak. Clean the bathroom thoroughly, then see whether the smell has gone away. If there’s still an unpleasant odor, have a plumber check things out.
2. Ceilings or walls develop stains or discoloration
Leaking water has to go somewhere, and it’s usually absorbed by the walls or ceiling of the room below the bathroom. If you’ve noticed discoloration at the edges of your walls or ceilings, you probably have a leak. You may also notice that the paint or wallpaper is peeling. Leave the discoloration until you have the leak inspected and repaired, as that can provide a helpful clue for plumbers looking to find the origin of a hidden leak.
While discoloration frequently occurs with leaks, if you have a slow leak you may not notice the symptom. If you see other signs of a bathroom leak, have things checked out to be on the safe side.
3. You have a mold and mildew problem
If you’ve been lax on cleaning or your bathroom doesn’t vent properly, you may have mold or mildew. If you’re good about using the fan when taking showers and clean frequently, there is no reason for mold and mildew in your bathroom except for a leak. Mold and mildew do not develop unless there’s an underlying problem.
Mold and mildew can cause health problems, so you will want to clean things and find the source of the issue to prevent it from coming back.
4. The floor feels spongy
Where water leaks onto the flooring, it can degrade the material, causing a wood floor to develop a soft, spongy feel. If the floor gives way when you walk on it, or if it seems to be coming apart from the sub-flooring, there is a water damage issue. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need to replace the floor. Take action as soon as you notice this problem so that it doesn’t get worse.
5. Your utilities are pricier than usual
Homeowners tend to use more water during the summer months when they may be watering in the lawn. If the water seems higher than normal and there is no correlating explanation, there could be a leak. Compare current utility bills with past utility bills from the same month, or have a plumber check things out so you know where you stand.
Be observant and follow up on things that feel funny, whether it’s mold problems or higher utility bills. You’re better off spending a little bit of money to have someone come out or fix a minor leak than waiting until a pipe bursts and you need to replace the entire system.