what water damage might look like

What Does Water Damage Look Like?

One of the first signs that homeowners notice when water damage has taken place is stains on their walls or ceiling. These spots can start small and spread in size over time, providing evidence of the occurrence.

These signs could indicate that there is a water damage issue somewhere in your home. Preventing leaks now will save you money in the long run.

Damp Spots

Are you noticing dark spots on your walls? It could be indicative of damp in your home. These can be caused by rain getting into walls, condensation forming on cold surfaces and leaking pipes inside the property.

Damp can be a significant issue for homeowners across the US and if not addressed promptly, can cause severe damage to your property – including wood rotting. Here are the primary warning signs you should look out for if you suspect you have a damp problem:

Penetrating Damp

Penetrating damp is a type of damp that occurs when water seeps into your building through an opening, often caused by issues with guttering or leaking roof tiles. Identifying and fixing this problem is much simpler than rising or condensation damp, since you already know where the weak spot is due to seeing watermarks on walls or ceiling.

Efflorescence on your brickwork is another sign of penetrating damp. This occurs when water-soluble salts like calcium carbonate and sodium sulphate dissolve inside your brickwork when exposed to moisture. After dissolution, these minerals leach out into the air leaving behind a white powdery substance that appears as if you had just painted over.

Tide marks on your walls that do not extend above one metre from the ground are an indication of rising damp. This type of damp can cause plaster to bubble and wallpaper to peel away from the wall.

Rising damp can cause gradual degradation to your brickwork and masonry that may go undetected for some time. In most cases, rising damp is preventable by making sure your guttering is in good condition, windows & doors securely fastened, pointing & any gaps around windows/door frames cleared or filled in.

Swollen Drywall

Water damage can wreak havoc on drywall, framing materials and insulation, leading to mold growth, rot, electrical hazards, deterioration and structural problems. It’s essential that these issues be addressed promptly so they don’t worsen and require later repair.

Signs that you should contact a water damage expert are visible bulges in your drywall. This could be caused by numerous reasons, but the two most likely causes are moisture and inadequate installation.

Moisture can cause bulges in drywall by softening its gypsum core. Drywall that has become swollen due to water damage is especially challenging to work with if you attempt to repair it yourself.

Fasteners that are not driven deep enough into the drywall during installation can cause bulges. This occurs because they fail to hold the drywall securely against studs, allowing moisture to damage its gypsum core.

Another cause of drywall bulges is when installers use cut drywall sheets instead of butted ones. Butted drywall sheets are intended to form a small depression along their edges, which allows joint compound and drywall tape to adhere securely.

Unfortunately, when the drywall isn’t cut correctly, joint compound and tape will adhere to the paper core without creating a proper depression. As a result, bulging seams in the drywall may give off an illusion of tear-shaped tears.

The most frequent cause of drywall bulges is water damage. This typically occurs when the wall was exposed to excessive amounts of water during its construction process.

Bulging drywall isn’t necessarily a sign that you need to fix the issue, but it is wise to check for any underlying issues. This is especially pertinent if you plan on undertaking renovation work in that space as any damaged areas must be patched and replaced.

If you suspect water has caused the bulges in your drywall, a moisture meter can help determine the cause. If it exceeds 1%, either repair the damage yourself or have it professionally done.


Water damage often leaves behind stains. Unfortunately, these marks are usually indicative of an underlying leak that needs to be fixed; however, they can be difficult to spot without the aid of a trained eye.

To identify where a leak is coming from, inspect areas that are especially susceptible to water damage such as cabinets under sinks and walls near plumbing pipes. Additionally, if your ceiling has any brown spots that don’t appear elsewhere in your house, look for them there.

Another thing to watch out for is the sound of dripping water. If you can hear this even when it’s not raining, that could be an indication that there’s a leak coming from a pipe.

If you’re not sure where the leak is coming from, check your water bill to see if there are any changes. If your bill appears higher than usual, that could be indicative of a leak draining your supply of water.

Next, take a walk around your house and check for any dark or brown spots on walls or ceilings that don’t belong there. These could be signs of a leak from your roof, heating appliance, or plumbing system.

Once you’ve identified the leak, take immediate steps to seal it and then move forward. Water stains don’t look good and can quickly cause additional harm in your home.

For a fast solution, mix together bleach and water and spray it lightly on the stain. Allow it to air-dry for several hours or overnight so that the area is completely clean and ready for painting.

Next, apply another coat of new paint. You can either do this yourself or hire a professional for the job.

Once the source of the leak has been sealed, you can proceed and repaint to remove water stains. Be mindful not to touch anything stained and be sure not to paint over any active leaks!


Water damage to a material can leave behind discoloration and rings of stain, especially if there have been multiple leaks over an extended period. Although this type of damage is difficult to detect, there are a few steps you can take that will help determine if your home has been exposed to moisture for an extended period.

Test the Spot

Damaged material will typically feel firm or soft depending on its age. Newer spots will still feel solid and squishy, while older ones have been wetted and dried multiple times.

If you are uncertain of the age of your water damage, try to estimate it by touching the spot and looking for rings around it. If there are none, this indicates that the damage is fresh and not old.

Rings of discoloration are indicative of old water damage and can be seen on soft building materials like wood, plaster or drywall. These marks usually appear after multiple leaks have taken place over an extended period, usually caused by a roof or pipe issue.

Black mold can develop in areas that have been flood or exposed to excessive moisture for an extended period. This is often visible on walls, ceilings, and floors and comes in a range of colors. There are mold test kits you can buy online to test for black mold like the ones sold on Amazon and at My Mold Detector

To remove these rings, you can use a hairdryer to warm up the surface of the damaged material. Afterward, soak it with furniture oil ($9 at Ace Hardware), and allow it to air-dry for several minutes.

Furniture oil will lift away water stains from wood surfaces and prevent them from returning. It also helps restore the original aesthetic and feel of your wooden table or nightstand.

Another way to protect your ring from damage is by not wearing it while working out or doing housework. Constant exposure to weights, machines, and other materials can corrode the metal of your ring and leave scrapes and scratches that will eventually chip away at its surface.

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