Water damage signs that might not be as serious as you think

Water damage is normally an indication that you may have a damaged pipe, leaking shower or poorly fitted appliance. However, typical water damage signs such as mouldy walls could be down to something as simple as poor ventilation. For example, laundry rooms, bathrooms and kitchens all create a fair amount of steam which, if not properly ventilated, can lead to a build up of condensation on walls that can turn mouldy over time.

At Tangible Building we are used to dealing with the repair of water damage to homes after serious incidents such as floods or burst pipes. However, we also know that there are other signs which can mislead the homeowner into thinking the problem is far worse than it actually is. Before calling in the experts, we recommend you take a look through other common signs that indicate a less serious problem that can be eradicated by taking a few simple steps.

Mould Growing on Walls

Whilst it is true that mould grows on damp surfaces, and may be caused by a leak in your walls, it is not always a sign of a massive problem. Mould can grow on your walls, ceilings, or even furniture, but can be caused by poor ventilation. This happens when air is unable to circulate properly inside your home trapping odours, bacteria and moisture caused by cooking, bathing, washing clothes and the air breathed by you and your family. This in turn means that condensation and water vapour will tend to stagnate and stick to surfaces, the perfect home for mould.

Opening windows and doors, installing ventilation bricks and extractor fans will allow your house to breath and let stale air out and fresh air in that will help deal with this problem.

A Damp, Musty Smell

This sign again can come down to water damage, or poor ventilation. Damp smells are caused either by water within your walls, or by a lack of air movement causing it to stagnate. It is important that you check your wall for dampness, this will give some indication of the cause of the smell. If your wall is not damp, then you should take steps to improve the ventilation of your home.

A few more simple ways to improve the ventilation of your home include:

  • Checking your washer/dryer is vented properly
  • Installing a working extractor fan in your bathroom and kitchen
  • Trying to dry clothes outdoors whenever possible (or in a well ventilated room indoors)
  • Closing doors when working with boiling water to stop the steam spreading throughout the house
  • Trying not to overfill cupboards or wardrobes, as this is bad for ventilation
  • Keeping furniture around 50mm away from walls to improve ventilation

The Sound of Water Running, When No Appliances are Being Used

This one may be a little more obvious. One of the signs of water damage, or at least a leaking pipe, is the sound of water when no appliances are being used. Normally this would be a major issue, but there are other factors you may not have thought of. One of these include the sound radiators make when first turned on and warming up. It’s common to hear a trickling sound as water moves through your heating system which could be mistaken for a water leak. Before assuming the worst, it is worth checking that it is not your heating system or other water based appliance that’s responsible for making the noise.

Discolouration Beneath Sinks, Or Counters

By actively checking beneath your counters for signs of leaks you can ensure that there isn’t a serious problem that will need serious repairs to fix. You may find that there is some slight discolouration underneath your sink, or in your counters, that can point to a leak somewhere in the general area. You should be able to judge the scale of the problem by the size and colour of the stain. This will notify you if there is a long running leak of serious consequence, or a small job of tightening some seals in your pipes. If it is the latter, you will have saved yourself money on expensive repairs bills.

Sometimes the signs of water damage are not as bad they seem. This does not mean they are not worth checking out. If you believe your home is showing signs of water damage, you should immediately check out the source of the problem. This will allow you to understand the scope of the problem. For more information about water damage, and what to do in the event it affecting your home, please call our advice line on 0800 328 4188.

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Thames Valley

Suite 220, SK House, Vansittart Estate, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1SE.


Suite 220, SK House, Vansittart Estate, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1SE.

Jane Smith

Regional Director at Thames Valley Office

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