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When considering a home to buy or rent, or when selling a home, it’s important to know the signs of water damage or potential water damage. Water damage from a flood, fire or leak can cause structural problems and lead to the development of mold which presents a health risk to the home’s occupants. 

See ServiceMaster by Glenn’s tips on determining if a home has suffered water damage.

Water Damage Outside

A home or structure should sit on the highest point of the property and the ground should slope away from the house. If it doesn’t, there may be water damage to the foundation and in the basement from water working its way towards the home.
Walk around the exterior of the house. Check for downspouts that divert water away from the house and gutters that are intact and properly attached. Problems with the downspout or gutter may mean water is not being properly diverted away from the home. Look for missing or cracked shingles, which can lead to leakage in the attic as well as missing or broken flashing. Look at all the exterior window and door frames. Is there any separation? Are there soft spots which may indicate leaks?

Checking for
Water Damage Inside

Inside the home, look for the following for signs of water damage:

  • Water rings on the ceiling or walls.
  • Soft or sagging spots on the floor, especially near the tub, shower, sinks, dishwasher, washing machine or water heater.
  • Warped or cracked flooring. Water damage to tile, laminate or wood flooring can cause it to warp, split or crack.
  • Look in the cabinet under the sink for water marks, warping and discoloration that may indicate leaking pipes.
  • Pay attention to any apparently new repairs to ceilings, walls and windows. Are there patch jobs? Does there appear to be areas with heavier paint? These “quick fixes” may hiding water damage spots.
  • Check for rust on the hot water heater. These can indicate a previous or current leak and any leak can mean water damage.
  • Trust your sense of smell. If you smell mustiness or mildew, it’s likely there was water damage and now there may be a potential mold issue.

In the Attic

Search for signs of water damage in the attic area, particularly around and near the chimney and roof vents where the roof planes join together and where the roof and the walls meet. If possible, check the insulation, it should be dry and free from mold.