Surprising Signs of a Water Problem

water damage in house

Some household water issues are impossible to miss. There may be a crash and a whoosh followed by the sound of rushing water. There could be the very unpleasant experience of walking sock-footed into a surprise puddle on the floor. And people who live in flood-prone areas are no strangers to what happens during the rainy season.

But there are other, more subtle signs of water problems that can be easy to miss. Unfortunately, water damage tends to be cumulative and the longer the issue goes unchecked, the more significant and costly become the repairs. Whether you own or rent your home, it’s important to be on the lookout for the following sneaky indicators of a problem.

Mold growth

Mold flourishes in damp places and can be quite damaging to human health. Sometimes it is obvious why mold is growing – steamy bathrooms are common locations, for example. But if you find a visible mold colony that returns after cleaning and has no noticeable source of moisture, there may be a leak nearby.

However, depending on the location of your water problem, the mold might not be visible. Luckily, your nose can also give you a clue. People have described the smell of mold as like dirty wet socks or rotting wood. The unpleasant odor of hidden mold can emanate from the walls, floors, or drains.

In any case, it’s best to engage a professional mold removal service after the leak is identified and fixed. The team will have equipment that can find and eradicate mold much more thoroughly than you can.

Unusually high water bill

Upon opening a shockingly huge water bill, your first instinct might be to yell at your teenager for their long showers. But first, stop to consider whether there may be a leaky pipe somewhere behind the walls that you can’t see.

It’s a good idea to monitor your water usage on a regular basis for this reason; the amount used by any one household typically varies throughout the year and is often higher in the summer when the lawn is watered regularly. It’s only when the bill spikes higher than the expected top end for the season that you might consider a leak.

Strange warm spot on the floor

When you find a spot on your floor that feels warmer than the rest of the surrounding floor, it can indicate a leak in the hot water line. If the leak occurs in the water lines that run below the concrete foundation of the home, it’s called a slab leak. Slab leaks are serious and can be costly to repair.

But don’t panic yet. The warm spot could instead be caused by a slowly leaking valve that’s located nearby. Common culprits include showers, bathtubs, and bathroom sinks. These leaks take weeks or months to collect enough water to create a warm spot. Though the repair should be done as soon as possible, this type of leak is less serious than a slab leak and costs a lot less to fix.

The sound of running water

Water running through pipes makes a distinctive sound. If you live with other people in a single family dwelling, or in an apartment complex with lots of neighbors, chances are that the sound can be heard pretty much constantly. But if you hear running water when you’re sure no one is using it, you could have a significant leak.

This can be really hard to distinguish if you live in a multi-family dwelling, but if you hear water rushing constantly, way longer than any bath or dishwasher cycle, it’s worth a call to the landlord. This is especially true if you also see or smell mold anywhere on the premises.

Water is an absolute necessity for all life on our planet, but it sure can do some damage to humble human structures. When a pipe or valve breaks, water leaks either show up inside your home or collect behind the walls. Necessary repairs can range from an affordable DIY fix to a more costly professional job that involves new drywall and flooring on top of the plumbing issues. But one thing is for sure – the faster you can identify the problem, the less extensive the damage. Keeping eyes and ears open for these surprising signs of a water problem will save you a lot of hassle when a leak occurs.



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