Signs of Water Damage: What Does It Look Like? | BIll Howe

Signs of Water Damage: What Does It Look Like?

Restoration & Flood

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As a homeowner, it’s normal for you to do routine home inspections. After all, you’ve paid a lot for the property and want to keep maintenance costs down. However, occasionally, you may come across something that can be quite puzzling, like a water stain.

It could be on the ceiling, or on the wall. But your first thought is usually, “What is that, and how did it get there?” If you see water stains in any of these areas, it could be a sign of water damage caused by a leak somewhere in your home. What does water damage look like? We’ll provide more insight below.

What Are Signs of Water Damage

Not all water damage is visible, so thoroughly checking areas with issues is essential. But what are the signs of water damage? Here are a few things to keep an eye out for:

  • Water stains: A clear sign you have a plumbing issue is water stains. There could be signs of water damage on the ceiling or walls with abstract shapes. The stains often have a yellowish-brown color.
  • Mold: No homeowner wants to deal with mold because it usually means a more significant problem. When excess water from leaks meets oxygen, it leaves a breeding ground for mold to grow. Professional help is necessary if it gets out of hand.
  • Strange sounds: If you hear weird sounds throughout your home, don’t worry; it’s not a ghost (we hope). But it might be leaking water, which is equally strange. Leaking water has to go somewhere, possibly through floor damage.
  • Health issues: Remember the mold we spoke about from the leaking water? When left too long, the mold spores can affect the air quality, leading to health discomforts such as itchy eyes or difficulty breathing.
  • Smell: Musty, damp or mildewy smells can be signs of water damage that isn’t immediately visible.

So, what are the signs of water damage when it is visible? Again, water damage can occur in various places, such as:


It’s not always easy to see signs of water damage in your walls. But you’ll know you have an issue if you notice:

  • Discoloration on your walls that’s yellow or brown
  • Wallpaper is beginning to peel or bubble
  • There are visible signs of mold growth
  • A musty smell in the area


Signs of water damage in the ceiling look like water damage in the wall. There will be discoloration and bubbling. Sometimes, a small hairline crack could indicate a bigger issue. Unfamiliar lumps and bumps are also signs of water damage.


Floor water damage is the hardest to deal with because, like most plumbing issues, it’s only visible when it’s too late. It’s worse when you have wooden flooring since the material is more susceptible to damage and harder to repair. However, any flooring can suffer from water problems. Signs of water damage under the floor include:

  • Weak spots in the floor that buckle when pressure you apply pressure
  • Slight discoloration in the flooring material
  • Cupping, which happens when plank edges curl upwards
  • Musty odors from a specific area

How Long Does It Take For Water Damage to Show

The time it takes for water damage to show depends on factors such as the material, the level of severity of water intrusion, time, and environmental factors. Depending on the issue, water damage could show within hours or days, or take even longer. For example, a leak that seeps into your carpet flooring would show quickly since that material doesn’t absorb water easily and you’re likely to find it when walking.

Moreover, mold can also be present if the climate is more humid than usual, indicating that water damage could be present in the area. Again, water damage can be hard to see. Other indicators, such as smell, can also help you determine if your home has a plumbing issue to fix.

Prevention and Maintenance Tips

To avoid the costly repairs water damage can cause, here are a few prevention and maintenance tips:

Disconnect hoses from faucets, especially during the winter. Any remaining water can freeze and halt water flow, affecting multiple appliances around your home.

Clean your gutters frequently. Yes, it’s a tedious task, but doing so can eliminate build-up on your roof. If left too long, the residual water can leak through your home’s roof, causing more issues.

Clear your roof drain regularly. Like gutters, roof drains also play a crucial role in water runoff. If your roof drain is obstructed by debris or damaged it can cause a major water intrusion problem during rain.

Regularly inspect your home for leaks or cracks. Some appliances/amenities that can cause this to happen include:

  • Washing machine
  • Toilets
  • Sinks
  • Dishwasher
  • Bathtubs
  • Water heater

Review your water bill each month. If the charges are too high, it could be due to:

  • Broken pipes
  • Leaky faucets
  • Leaking water heater

Ensure optimal water pressure in your home by monitoring it regularly. Incorrect water pressure can lead to pipe failures and other plumbing issues. Consider installing a water pressure regulator to effectively control and stabilize water pressure, reducing strain on your pipes. Contact us for professional assistance with water pressure adjustment or installation of water pressure regulators to maintain a healthy plumbing system.

Ask the Pros At Bill Howe

Water damage can be overwhelming for any homeowner because it can seem like a never-ending battle. The leaks, wet stains, and curled floors would be enough for anyone to pack it in. Did you know that Bill Howe has a fully-fledged restoration and flood department? We’re experts in restoring your home after a water intrusion incident and can work with your insurance to save you as much money as possible, or directly with you to remediate and restore your home!

We’ve been around since 1980 and are known as the best plumber in San Diego, and for good reason. We do plumbing inspections, drain line cleanings, and repair any other plumbing issues you might have. After we’re done with your property, you won’t have to worry about leaks or signs of water damage.

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