Water damage can be quite costly to repair, and usually takes a team of plumbers, carpenters, and contractors. Find leaks even when they are hidden in the walls with these five tips, then get them professionally repaired before the water damage worsens.
1. Something smells funky.
If there's an unpleasant sour or musty smell in your bathroom all the time (not just after someone's used it), it could indicate a hidden leak.
Give your bathroom a good cleaning and then give it the sniff test. If the bathroom still smells musty, contact plumbers in your community who can diagnose the problem and repair the leak.
2. Stains on ceilings or walls below.
Water leaking through the bathroom pipes, shower drain, or tiles will stain the ceiling on the floor below. Water can also damage the drywall in the bathroom or an adjacent room.
If you notice discoloration on your basement or first-floor ceiling, it could be coming from the bathroom right above you. In some cases, water can travel farther and so you may notice staining in a remote area. You might also see peeling paint on water damage on walls. In extreme cases, the ceiling may appear to be drooping or sagging in response to pressure from the water above.
It can actually begin to leak water if you don't call plumbers to fix it. Note that a slow leak generally doesn't cause staining. If you see other symptoms of a bathroom leak but don't have staining, you should still take action.
3. Mold and mildew growth.
Usually when you see light mold or mildew, it's a sign that you haven't cleaned in a while. After all, mold and mildew grow in moist, wet areas like bathrooms.
If you start to notice repeated mold and mildew growth and you are regularly cleaning, it could indicate a hidden leak. Likewise, if you notice mold or mildew growing in an area of the bathroom that isn't close to water (say, beneath the vanity) it could indicate a leak.
Clean the area, since mold and mildew pose a health hazard, and then call a technician.
4. The floor feels soft.
Prolonged contact with water can weaken the bathroom flooring. If an area of the bathroom floor appears to give when you walk on it, it's a clear sign of water damage. A bathroom floor that cracks, buckles, or comes up from its substrate is also damaged.
If you notice that the floor is cracked, sagging, or otherwise damaged, contact plumbers quickly. Floor repair can be quite expensive and so it's best to take action once you notice the problem.
5. Your utilities are more expensive than usual.
Yes, water usage has seasonal peaks and valleys. You may use more during the summer when you are watering your lawn and garden. However, a water bill that's higher than usual can indicate a hidden leak.
If you think the water bill looks higher than normal, dig out past utility bills and review them. Compare a bill from the same time period the year before to get an idea of how much you spent last year on water usage. If the numbers seem reasonably close, things are probably fine. If you notice that the new bill is high compared to past water usage, you could have a leak.
Consumer Reports suggests that a family of four should not use more than 45,424 liters of water per month. You can gauge your water usage by this amount, or check past water usage for a direct comparison.
Fixing hidden leaks in pipes will save you money on your water bills. It will also prevent leaky water from damaging your walls, floors, tiles, ceilings, or other home fixtures.