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How Can You Tell if a Wall has Water Damage

Water leaking from the walls

Your home can be affected by water damage at any time. It is important to recognize the signs of water damage and to understand where it may be coming from so you can address the issue and limit the damage. One of the places that water damage can happen is within walls where it’s more difficult to spot. When this happens, you may notice some cracking, bubbling, and flacking of the drywall or wallpaper and even a moldy or musty smell.

Water damage can come from various sources including inclement weather, burst pipes, or leaky appliances. When water damage is not addressed by professionals, it can cause issues such as structural damage and create the conditions for mold growth which can be hazardous to your health. It is common to experience allergic reactions from exposure to mold and with prolonged exposure, you can experience major upper respiratory issues.

Signs of Water Damage in Walls

You may feel that it is impossible to detect water damage. The truth is that water damage can be tricky to detect early on. There are some signs of a potential water leak or flood that you can look for in an effort to avert serious and costly measures later on. Here are some signs you should look out for when it comes to water damage within your walls:

Dark or wet spots

Make sure to look out for dark spots on the drywall. Wet water spots indicate recent damage while yellow, brown, or chalky stains indicate past water damage. Both types of stains should be taken care of by a professional.

Flaking, bubbling, peeling walls

If you notice flaking, bubbling, or peeling on your walls, that may be a sign of water damage behind the wall.

Sound of running water

You should always make sure that there is no sound of dripping or running water as that may be sign of a water leak behind the wall.

Musty smell

If you notice a strong musty smell that resembles a smell of wet newspaper or cardboard, you may have a water leak inside your wall.


Water damage within the walls could lead to visible mold growth in your home. You may notice mold on your baseboards and your walls.

Increase in your water bill

If your water bill has increased and you haven’t had major changes in your family routine, there may be leaking water.

Water coming into your home

If you notice water that comes into your home near the windows, there might be an issue with your siding, or you may have roof runoff coming into your home which can cause water damage behind the walls.

Puddles on the floor

If you notice puddles on the floor from water leaking from the ceiling, that is a definite sign of water damage.

Brown spots on the wall indicate water damage

How to Tell if There is a Leak at Home

If you have at least one sign of water damage in your home, it may be time to call an expert. Besides checking the walls for signs of water damage, there are several other ways to tell if you have a leak in your home. Here’s how to check for a leak:

  • Shut off water in your house.
  • Write down the usage statistics from your water meter.
  • Wait for three hours (with the water still off) and check the water usage statistics again.
  • If your water usage is up during the three hours it was off, you may have a water leak in your home.

A few other things to check:

  • Exterior above grade issues: Check for clogged gutters, downspouts, and bad caulking. Also, inspect the flashing on vents, chimneys, windows, and doors.
  • Exterior below grade issues: If you have a leak in the lower level of your home, this may be due to broken sprinkler pipes, improper drainage from downspouts, or French drains or grading that is sloping toward the home.

You can help prevent water leaks in your home with proper maintenance. Here a few things you should always do to ensure that you do not have a water leak that can cause damage within your home:

  • Work with a professional company to find leaks: Professionals can use a thermal camera to figure out where the leak is and see inside the wall.
  • Clean your gutters: You should always keep the gutters of your home clean so that water can freely flow through.
  • Check your carpet: Always check your carpets for mold.
  • Water heater: Make sure to keep your water heater working properly.
  • Negative grading: Your yard should slope away from the home. If your yard has a negative grading, this will cause water to drain towards your foundation which can lead to indoor flooding and water damage.

Cracked walls and ceiling

Contact a Professional Water Restoration Company

Even if you take all the necessary precautions to prevent water damage in your home, it may still happen. If you notice any of the signs of water damage mentioned above, make sure to call our professionals for water damage mitigation.

If you are facing water damage at your home or business, ServiceMaster by Replacements is here to help. We use advanced equipment and restoration methods to make sure all excess water has been removed from your property.  After the water has been removed, we will clean all affected areas and then restore them back to their original state. We have been serving New Jersey and the surrounding areas for the last 25 years. We are available 24/7 to help with your water damage needs at (732) 842-6917.