The only thing worse than water damage in your home that you know about is the water damage in your home that you don’t know about. The water you see can be promptly removed and the affected area treated to prevent long term damage. Unseen water problems may go unnoticed for weeks or even months before they are discovered, at which point the damage is done, and the cost of repair and restoration may have increased dramatically.
Water damage occurs for a variety of reasons such as leaks, floods, overflowing sinks or tubs, ice dams on your roof, water backing up into the basement, or malfunctioning toilets and sewer systems. While many of these problems are almost immediately visible, some are not, and those are the ones that can cause the greatest number of problems and become the most costly to repair.
The best way to avoid these unpleasant discoveries is to be proactive in the inspection of your home for any signs that unwanted water is present, locating the source of the problem and shutting it off, and then beginning prompt repairs on the damaged area. The faster you act, the less severe the impact of the water on your property will be.
So how do you look for water damage? And where do you begin?
First, check the exterior of your home, specifically the gutters that are designed to channel excess water out and away from your home in the event of rain or severe weather. If the gutters are dripping or overflowing, then you probably have a back up or a clog. Water should be able to flow freely through gutters and downspouts and be deposited in a manner that directs it away from your home. It’s best to have the downspouts extend out a few feet from your home to prevent water from going under your home’s foundation.
Look for stationary water or unusual accumulation around the property, which is a sure sign of water problems. If water is damming up against your home then your property is probably sloping towards your home and re-grading is required. Water should always flow away from your foundation.
Learn to read your water meter and do it every no and then. If there is a sudden rise in the use of water or a spike in your water bill, chances are there is a leak somewhere. You can test this theory by closing off the water supply and then checking a reading a few hours apart. If there is a variation on the reading, then a leak is almost certainly present. If you suspect a leak somewhere then call a leak detection specialist and have them look for the leak. It’s best to find the leak before you start finding the symptoms.
Wooden and laminate floors almost always give up signs of water damage through staining, softening, or warping. Any one of these signs may be traced back to a water problem. Home appliances may also spring leaks affecting the flooring and drywall in their immediate vicinity. Appliances located upstairs may also affect first floor ceilings.
Door and window frames and the wall surrounding them should be checked for signs of softening or staining, since broken seals can allow easy access by water or condensation. Broken window seals are one of the most common sources for slowly developing water damage. A tube of silicone is much cheaper than needing to call a mold removal company later on down the road.
In these tough economic times “an ounce of prevention” should still be everyones philosophy. The key to avoiding costly water damage repair bills is to stay ahead of the problem. Continuously inspecting your home wards off costly damage and expensive repairs.