Published: June 24, 2015

    Top 7 Tips for Spotting Water Damage

    Buying a house can be an overwhelming process. With so much on your mind, it’s always possible you’ll miss a problem with a new home that, over the years, could come back to haunt you. Water damage in particular can be a sign of serious structural issues. Here’s a few warning signs to watch for as you house-hunt this summer.

    Ceiling and Wall Water Stains

    Water stains on ceilings and walls are a sure sign of water damage in the past—and a possible sign the damage is ongoing. Stains may be black, yellow-brown, or faint outlines, depending on the extent of the damage and how long the problem has been developing.

    Follow Your Nose

    Basements and older homes often have a slightly musty smell, but if the smell intensifies in certain locations, it may indicate the presence of mold or mildew, which in turn suggests a water leak and, depending on the location, possible wood rot.

    Buckling Doors, Walls, and Windows

    Wood and drywall swell when they absorb water, which causes buckling in doors, walls, and window frames. Buckling may be due to a single event—such as a burst water pipe that has since been repaired, but can also result from small, hidden leaks damaging the wood over time.

    Landscape Sloping / Draining towards the Home

    If surrounding landscape drains towards the house, water can pool and “wick” up into the wood, causing serious rot and structural damage. Damp crawlspaces, evidence of foundation movement, or settling can indicate damage caused by incorrect drainage.

    New Paint

    New paint doesn’t necessarily mean a problem. Many sellers repaint before putting their homes on the market to freshen up the place. You should, however, ask if the new paint is hiding any damage. Be especially suspicious if only one room is repainted, or if the paint only covers a section of the wall or ceiling.

    Spongy Floors

    As you walk across the floor, especially in bathrooms and kitchens, check if the floor feels “spongy.” This can indicate water damage to floorboards, which swell as a result.

    Faucet and Toilet Bowl Stains

    Scale on faucets, orange discoloration in toilet bowls, and similar stains in bathtubs and washbasins indicates the presence of hard water. Left untreated, hard water corrodes plumbing and shortens the life of dishwashers, water heaters, and washing machines.

    Fortunately, you can easily combat the effects of hard water with a Pelican NaturSoft® water softener alternative with salt free technology. Don’t tell the realtor though—you might be able to use the water stains to negotiate a lower price on the house!