Water damage causes more headaches for homeowners in the Portland and Vancouver area than just about anything else. Why? Because in many cases, water damage can go unnoticed for a long time, leading to serious problems that are difficult (and expensive) to repair.

In today’s post, we’re going to take a look at the most common causes of water damage, where you should look for water damage in your home, and what you should be on the lookout for. We’ll also talk about how you can rest a little easier by investing in preventive waterproofing for your home.


What Causes Water Damage?

It sounds like a silly question, doesn’t it! Water causes water damage, right? But it’s a lot more complicated than that. Water comes in many different forms, especially here in the moist, drizzly, damp Portland and Vancouver area.

  1. First, there’s the obvious source of water damage– the months and months of drizzling rain that we endure every year.
  2. Next, snow and ice during the winter. Ice is an especially sneaky cause of water damage because it expands as it freezes, causing cracks that allow more water to enter your home.
  3. There’s moisture in the air, even when the sun is shining! Moisture in the air can condense in hard to spot places and can even make its way inside walls and in places where you hardly ever look!
  4. Appliances like your washing machine, garbage disposal, water heater, toilet, and air conditioner can all contribute to water damage if they leak or stop draining properly.
  5. Finally, there’s the water that we invite into our homes, from our pipes and sewer systems. Leaks and drips can go on for months or even years, raising your water bill and doing unseen damage to your home.


Before You Look For Water Damage

Before you start exploring your home in search of water damage, remember that some effects of water damage, like mold and bacteria can make you sick!

It’s never a bad idea to have your home inspected for water damage by a professional– like the team here at Rock Solid Waterproofing. We have years of experience and have access to the best safety equipment.

That said, if you are looking for water damage in your home, these tools can help:

  1. Flashlight – Many areas where water damage is common are dim and dark. A bright flashlight can help you spot water damage.
  2. Safety mask and gogglesAlways protect yourself when taking on a DIY home project.
  3. Notebook & Camera – Make a list of the areas you want to check and work through them systematically. Take notes about what you see. If you spot any possible water damage, take a picture with your phone’s camera. You can show the picture to an experienced professional or you can compare pictures the next time you inspect for water damage.


What To Look For

Hopefully, your water damage isn’t this obvious!

When you’re searching for water damage, there are 7 important warning signs you shouldn’t overlook:

  1. Standing water – If you see puddles of water in your house, that’s more than a warning sign– it’s a serious problem that needs attention now.
  2. Condensation or wet spots – Damp spots and excessive condensation can indicate hidden leaks or areas that aren’t insulated properly.
  3. Bad smells – If an area has a dank, musty smell, that can be a sign of mold growth or bacteria.
  4. Stains and spots – Visible water damage often presents as spots, stains or discolored areas. Look for slightly discolored areas.
  5. Peeling paint – Dry paint is happy paint! Paint damaged by water will start to peel, bubble or flake off.
  6. Uneven surfaces – Water damage can cause floors, ceilings, walls, and other surfaces to warp and feel uneven.
  7. Cracks – Water is always seeking the path of least resistance out of your home. Water wants to flow downhill and will always look for a way to do so– on a much larger scale, this phenomenon is how the Grand Canyon formed! Coupled with expansion and contraction during extreme weather, this can lead to visible cracks and fractures.


Where To Look

Walls, Floors, Windows & Door Frames

Some water damage can be subtle!

Start by looking at your home’s walls, as well as around windows and door frames. Warped window sills and door frames can be caused by excess moisture in your home. Walls might look uneven, floors can develop “wavy” areas, and paint or wallpaper might start to show signs of peeling or cracking.

Work from the outside of your house to the middle. Water damage to interior walls can be a sign of more advanced water damage.


Basement, Crawlspace, & Attic

Basements, crawl spaces, and attics are places where water loves to hide and cause damage to your home. Why? Often these areas are neglected or not inspected often.

How’s your sump pump looking?

Cluttered attics, basements, and crawlspaces that are just used for storage are great places for mold and mildew to hide. When inspecting your basement for water damage, test your sump pump to make sure it’s actively draining water, rather than allowing it to collect. A waterproof, finished basement is less likely to suffer water damage.


Appliances & Pipes

Check all the pipes in your house for visible leaks or drips. Make sure you inspect the areas below the pipes for water damage, too. Some pipes may only leak during certain times of the year but the water that dripped from them may show up as spots or discolored areas.

Look behind and around all appliances, including:

  • Refrigerator
  • Toilets
  • Sinks
  • Sump Pump
  • Air conditioners
  • Garbage disposals

All of these appliances may leak or cause condensation that can lead to water damage.


Home Exterior, Siding, Foundation, Gutters & Roof

Look for foundation cracks!

Don’t neglect your home’s exterior. Pay close attention to the state of your siding. If you see mildew or mold growth outside your home, there’s a chance that it is invading your home, too. Take a close look at exterior walls, especially at the base near the foundation. Visible cracks are a common sign of water damage to your foundation.

Make sure your gutters are draining properly and that the downspouts are directing water away from your foundation.

Severe weather may loosen or damage shingles that can allow water to enter your attic. Working on your roof (even just taking a look) can be dangerous. It is a job best left to an experienced roofer.


Your Utility Bill!

Here’s a sign of leaks and water damage that many homeowners overlook: their utility bills!

If you’re suddenly paying a lot more for water than you used to, there might be a subterranean leak or a malfunctioning appliance to blame. Water damage to your home might be the end result! Most local utility companies will help you figure out the cause of a high water bill.


What To Do If You See Signs of Water Damage

If you see any potential water damage, don’t ignore it!

Water damage won’t fix itself and in all likelihood, the problem will only continue to grow. A problem that might be a simple fix today can easily turn into an issue that costs thousands of dollars to fix down the road.

So if you suspect that there’s any chance of water damage, get it inspected!


How To Waterproof Your Home

The best way to avoid having to repair water damage to your home? Preventive, active waterproofing to the areas that need it most, like your:

  • Basement
  • Attic
  • Crawlspace
  • Foundation

At Rock Solid Waterproofing, our active waterproofing system actually directs water away from your home and prevents water damage from happening in the first place. If you’d like to learn more about our process, contact us online today!


Photo Credits: Wayne Truong, Kai Schreiber, State Farm, State Farm, Guy Sie, KOMUnews, Rusty Clark, Bart Everson