Not only do water leaks create major damage to your home and property they are also highly expensive to locate and repair. Not to mention the water bills!
Most water restorations we attend are for an obvious water leak or burst pipe with the most common being the fexi hose to your tapware in your vanity or kitchen cabinet bursting and flooding the surrounding area. With such an obvious leak they are usually spotted almost immediately when someone comes home from work or wakes up in the morning to find water pooling on the floor. With a fast attendance time we can mitigate a lot of the damage caused. But how do you spot a water leak if it is concealed in your wall or even under your concrete slab?
Many people report hearing dripping or running water before noticing any damage especially if that water leak is under your concrete slab or concealed in an external wall. The owner of the property in the below photos engaged a plumber to confirm his suspicions after he heard water running and was unable to locate the source.
Blistering to walls
Here in Western Australia most properties in the metro areas are double brick with a solid plaster render. Water damage to this type of wall often reveals as blistering, bubbling or rippling, this usually starts at the location of the leak then expands as moisture levels raise in the area immediately around and below it. It can start off as small as a coin and can rapidly grow.
Staining and discolouration
Water staining to plasterboard is usually obvious and seemingly can appear overnight, however this is not the only building material that stains as a result of water ingress. Flooring whether timber, carpet or laminate can all stain, discolour or desaturate in colour as a result of a water leak. Staining to carpet is usually the most visible especially if mould growth has begun as exampled in the photos.
One of the best giveaways that you have an ongoing water leak that has progressed far enough for mould growth is that musty stale odour that usually accompanies it. Mould growth requires the presence of moisture and can grow on the rear of your skirting boards, floorboards, along the smooth edge of your carpet and on carpet backing. It can only grow in wall cavities if you have plasterboard or timber frame. Once mould growth becomes evident it indicates your leak has been going for some time. As per one of our previous blog posts mould growth is unhealthy for humans and needs to be quickly addressed.
Changes to timber flooring
Timber flooring including floating laminate flooring can cup and swell leaving the appearance of wider gaps between the lengths as they swell and push away from each other. On a more minor scale cupping can occur where the surface of the boards are no longer flat and it is not until you run your hand across the boards or look at them from a very low angle that you notice the damage occurring. We included an extreme example in the photos as we find it amazing to what level timber can warp after water ingress has occurred.
Sagging and Cracking to plasterboard
Plasterboard can be found in a few places throughout your property, your ceiling lining walls are often clad with plasterboard if you have a timber or steel stud wall. A sagging ceiling can be the result of water damage from either a leaking/ burst pipe or potentially a leak in your roof. Water damage to plasterboard is not always accompanied with water staining, which is the more obvious visual tell-tale sign that draws our attention to the ceiling. Plasterboard can also crack as a result of the sagging and can become at risk of collapsing if it is the ceiling.
Being familiar with signs of water leaks and/or ingress in your homes is a useful skill. It limits prolonged damage to your home and property and can also save you $$$ on your next water bill.
Insurance companies may not cover water leaks that have been on-going or are due to maintenance. (Such as a deteriorated roofing , ongoing leaky pipes or failed window seals) Which is why it is important to spot them early on and get them fixed.
If you suspect a water leak or water damage in your property give us a call, we can come out and provide a report, leak detection or flood test as well.
- Louise Olman
Project Administrator and Report extraordinaire